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Bowling News USA - May 19, 2012 Storm's Martin Larsen Wins PBA Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award...

Storm's Martin Larsen is the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner, and Arizona's Josh Blanchard a former Wichita State University All-American, is the 2011-12 PBA Harry Golden Rookie of the Year, the Professional Bowlers Association announced Wednesday.

PBA Commissioner Tom Clark also announced that Storm staffer Jason Belmonte, Mike Fagan of Dallas and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., are the finalists for the 2011-12 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award. Mike Fagan

One of the most hotly contested Player of the Year races will come to an end at noon ET on Monday, May 28, when this year's winner will be announced in a special ceremony webcast live on PBA's Xtra Frame online bowling channel from 10pin bowling lounge in Chicago.

The 24-year-old Blanchard from Gilbert, Ariz., got his PBA career off to a fast start when he won a PBA West Region Non-Champions tournament for his first title in the first event he entered as a member.

In his first year as a PBA Tour player, he dominated rookie stats, cashing in 10 of 13 events (the next closest rookie cashed in only two events) while leading all rookies in average, points and earnings. His best finish was third in the PBA Cheetah Open presented by Ebonite.

"The successes and failures I learned this season have taught me what I need to know not to just be competitive but to compete for wins," said Blanchard, who made one other championship round appearance and gained some unexpected notoriety when he fell during the ESPN telecast of the PBA World Championship Mike Aulby Division finals.

"This year my mindset was to bowl well enough to make cuts and match play rounds. After my experience this season I believe I have the confidence where now my mindset will be bowl to win.

"I achieved way more than I expected," said Blanchard, who was a runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award. "I mainly joined (the PBA) to see how good my skills were and if I could compete. Rookie of the Year really didn't enter into my mind until I had some good finishes."

Larsen, a veteran member of Team Sweden at age 32, earned the right to bowl as an "exempt" PBA player during the 2011-12 season after two quality seasons as a part-time international player. The six-time European Bowling Tour titlist finished third in the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs.

"Wow, it's an honor to be included in the list of some very worthy bowlers," Larsen said. "Some guys back home will say they're not surprised I got the award, but I am. This year I'm the "nice" bowler of the year, maybe next year I can be Bowler of the Year."

Larsen joins 2009-10 winner George Lambert IV of Canada as the only two international players ever to win the Nagy Award.

Other players who received Nagy Award votes were Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa; Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J.; two-time Nagy winner Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., and Scott Norton, Costa Mesa, Calif.

The Harry Golden Rookie of the Year award, named after the late PBA Tour Tournament Director, is voted on by the PBA membership and the Steve Nagy Award is determined by a vote of PBA Exempt players. Established in 1966, the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award is named after the late PBA Hall of Famer who was one of 33 founding members of the PBA.

In the Player of the Year voting among the PBA membership and select veteran bowling writers, Belmonte, Fagan and Rash are the top three vote-getters.

Belmonte won three titles including the Elite Players Championship, had seven top-five finishes, finished third in average and second in both points and earnings. Belmonte also finished third in the U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions, fourth in the PBA World Championship and ninth in the USBC Masters.

Fagan qualified for TV shows in all four PBA Tour majors. He won the USBC Masters, finished second in the U.S. Open, fourth in the Tournament of Champions and 12th in the PBA World Championship. He also won an international PBA Tour title, the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Paris, France. Statistically, he was second in average and third in points and earnings.

Rash won PBA's signature event, the Tournament of Champions. He led the Tour with eight top-five finishes, including third place in the PBA World Championship, and finished first in average, points and earnings. He also qualified for a record five consecutive TV finals during the World Series of Bowling. Brunswick


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