I want to apologize in advance for the lack of posts recently. I had been planning my father’s surprise 70th birthday and that was taking up much of time. If you know my story you may understand why the party was more important than most 70th birthday parties.
Frank did a great job recapping the event, and I’m going to give you my take on it. I love this event. It’s so much fun getting to meet the up and coming kids that are keeping the game alive. Without the kids in the game it would surely die, and I thank them for their interest. I have to thank Robbie Taylor and all the folks at Candlepin For Kids. Without their hard work this tournament wouldn’t have happened AND the finals wouldn’t have been on NESN either. I promise I won’t spoil it for you on here.
I started my qualifying on lane 13 with Random Draw Doubles champ Evan Mazzaferro. The kids we were bowling with were Jason Gauthier Jr. and Alex Bilonas. I want to go out and say one thing. Both kids are troopers and battlers out there on the lanes. I heard Alex’s dad at one point say to him, these guys are pros listen to what they have to say. I will admit I wasn’t surprised to hear his dad say that to him, but at the same time, I was surprised to hear that while I was on the lane. Me? A Pro? I guess. Needless to say, I want to apologize. Alex did in fact struggle the first string and his dad was giving him suggestions. I didn’t want to overstep my bounds and I watched as Alex completely turned his game around and started throwing a crusher ball in the second game. He bowled great and the suggestions his dad made obviously worked as he threw a great 91 string. Alex got cheated on a couple of spares and it easily could have been a 1-teens game for him! Should I have said anything? Maybe. I still think I did the right thing since Alex was already getting suggestions. Sometimes too many suggestions are worse than none at all.
We love being a part of the action, and we are there to offer suggestions and tips, but at the same time, we all bowl differently. It’s difficult sometimes for our observations to work for the bowler we are watching since we may throw completely different. I know that in the next event last year, if I see something I am going to be more vocal and throw out a suggestion if I see something. I think I did the right thing on this day as Alex improved mightily and I’m proud of how he battled. Also, one thing to add, I wasn’t bowling what I would call great so I thought maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Needless to say, I learned just as much as the kids did on this day.
Jason Gauthier bowled amazing on the day. Very consistent. His third string he had a half for the ages as he threw – if memory serves – five marks and sat down at 70+ and a ball. He cruised into the knockout round on his third string and it it was a pleasure to bowl with him. It was also nice to meet his father for the first time as I have seen his name on the messages boards and around the candlepin community. I did teach Jason one thing though. When he finished his first half of the third game, I told him, now you turn and point at dad and say “Where were you the first two strings!“. Jason Sr. got a chuckle out of it, but he did tell me that Jr. doesn’t always like when he watches so this was first. Jason was steady throughout the day, and he finished strong heading into the knockout round.
Evan and I bowled fairly well. I was under the distinct impression I wasn’t doing all that well, when I went 115, 119 the first two. I heard from one of the bowlers next to us that 24th place was 230. So I was in what I thought was decent shape. I struggled out of the gate in the third string, but sat on a spare. I ended up going crazy marking five in a row and got tortured in the 10th box for what should have been a sixth mark in a row! I finished with a 138 and 372 on the day in qualifying which was good enough for 7th place! Not only did I make the cut, I managed a bye! I didn’t have to bowl in the first round!
Now the fun part, the top eight kids are paired with the top eight pros. I ended up getting paired with Alex Haesaert. His dad Tim was bowling on my right, and man can he throw. He should strongly consider joining the Pro Series. He was putting up explosion after explosion. The pins always seemed to be flying on his lane when he was up there. Alex bowled great in qualifying, and I thought we had a shot to make some real noise. The kids can really make a difference in this tournament and I thought I was paired with a difference maker.
We sat and waited for the first round matches to complete. I will admit I was nervous. I had bowled well in qualifying, but I was concerned sitting was going to be a detriment to my game. After the first round game was over, we warmed up again, and started the second round match – round of 16. I set a goal in this one, that if I make the cut I just want to win at least one match. I feel badly if we are eliminated in the first round we bowl. From Frank’s post you know we faced off against him and little Nate Fontaine. Nate is a warrior through and through. He finished tied for 24th and had to bowl a one string roll off just to get to the knockout round. He bowled great getting a hammer in the final box to then be paired with Frank. Nate and Frank had won their first round match and we started up.
Alex alleviated my concerns as he went right out of the gate and gave us an early lead. And then I stepped up, and this is why bowling is fun, and torture rolled into one. First three boxes, nine-drop, eight drop, hammer. Total before the bonus ball – 30. Super. I had a vertical piece of wood just to the left of the 5-pin in my first box. Since I am a righty I figured the way I throw I should be fine as long as I didn’t nick the cap, well, you know what happened, I hit the cap, and then got the ten. Box right after that, dreadful. Crusher ball, eight drop, and I left the 3-10 with a piece of wood angled against the 3-pin all I had to do was hit it. Yeah, you know how that turned out. I had a decent fill on the strike and if memory serves, I sat on a mark. We did well to keep the lead and we were able to close out Frank and Nate and move on to the next round. I asked Nate an all important question – should I kick Frank off my Friday night team because he let him down. Nate silently shook his head “no” so Frank was safe…
Next match we faced off against Jeff Surette and Ryan (sorry I didn’t get his last name!). Ryan and Alex were in a fierce battle and it was great to watch. I had to square off with the game’s best and as usual Jeff didn’t disappoint. As I mentioned earlier “difference maker”. Thank God for Alex. He managed to give us an eight pin lead going into the final five boxes. I tried to keep up, and Jeff simply was Jeff, and threw four nine-drop spares in a row, and finished with a 151 and we bowed out in the quarterfinals. Jeff bowled great, and showed the kids what a Pro bowler is and what a Pro bowler can do. He was simply on for the those four boxes and as sad as it was, it was fun to watch. The consistency is simply disgusting. I got the best of him last Friday night, but that’s a different story for another time. I love shameless plugs!
You’ll be able to see the semi-finals on Candlepins for Kids, and the finals will be aired on NESN on December 1st, at 11:30 AM!
Thanks to Leda Lanes, Candlepins For Kids, and the Pro Series for running a great event.