Bowling News USA - January 8, 2012 The Schlemer Report - PBA World Championship: Mike Aulby Division
Heading into this fourth and final division show of the PBA World Championship before the finals, I have to say that I definitely liked our chances on getting another player on through to the final show. Leading the way for the Storm Nation was Jason Belmonte, Roto Grip staffer Brian Kretzer, and free agent Josh Blanchard. Since Belmo was the high qualifier of the Mike Aulby Division, he got to select the lane condition. Of course he played to his advantage and opted to go with the longest of the animal patterns, the 41 foot Shark pattern. Belmo figured his rev rate would allow him to stay left of all the others and let them open up a friction spot for him to throw at.
In warm-up, before the show, the plan for our three guys was to use stronger balls with some surface between 10 and 15, as we usually do on the Shark to develop some area in the midlane. All seemed to be going well until a few minutes to go in practice. All of a sudden we were scrambling to get any ball to face the pocket the right way. For Kretzer, I had to hit his Marvel Pearl with a fresh 2000-grit Abralon pad to get it to read the lane better. It worked out great as he was able to move left, soften up the speed, and hit it harder. Getting Belmo lined up was a little trickier because he kept throwing it too hard and the ball had no time to react. I finally convinced him to let me freshen-up the cover of his pin up Critical Theory with 2000-grit Abralon. I told him to slow down and try to post his shot at the foul line. He finally tossed a couple quality shots and was good to go. PBA rookie however, Josh Blanchard, was in all out panic mode. His nerves definitely got the better of him, from the start of warm-ups and got worse as it all progressed. The very reasons he made it that far were his natural abilities and instincts. He just could not seem to get a hold of either. I told him to not to worry and that even the veterans still get worked up on show day. Even with all the words of encouragement, it was still a struggle and I felt bad for the kid. After all was said and done, I told him to look at the bright side, he totally blew past Tom Daugherty’s 100 score at last year’s Tournament of Champions, so he had nothing to be ashamed of. He laughed it off and even cracked a smile. Mark my words folks, this is definitely not the last time you will see Josh on TV.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Kretzer led the first game as the lanes played well for him. He pieced together a 231 game with a couple bad shots, slow hooking a Marvel Pearl. Belmo used the pin up Critical Theory that we freshened with surface to grind out a 188 game. As the lanes kept transitioning, it was apparent that Belmo was in need of just a little more help from the ball. So after that first game, I asked him to toss a pin down Critical Theory just to see if it would read the lane a little better. Sure enough, it was the difference Belmo needed. He felt he didn’t have to be as perfect with his shots and that this ball would give him a little more room to miss. I have to say though, even though this ball change made total sense, no one expected it to become a part of bowling history after watching that first game.
As the second game moved along, it was evident the lanes were transitioning again, but not for Belmo. After he made a decent move left he was able to use his rev rate and pin down ball to blend out the lane and didn’t have to move anymore. Kretzer on the other hand was not so lucky. As Belmo moved left, it forced BK to start moving left. By the middle of that second game, BK had already moved eight boards left and needed to move more. Since there were only a few big strings of strikes on the arena lanes up until that point, there was definitely a new buzz in the air as Belmo and his Critical Theory kept mowing them down. Tension built with each strike, putting 10 in the pit. All the while Kretzer, was doing his best to fill frames to advance to the third and final game. In the end it was all good. Kretzer managed to advance after crafting another 231 game, and Belmo added his name to the record books with the 19th perfecto in PBA televised history. After all the excitement and check presentation, it was time to bowl the final game to see who would advance to the World Championship Finals round next week to join fellow staffers Osku Palermaa and Ryan Shafer.
Both Kretzer and Belmo felt the lanes changed considerably after the extended break for Belmo’s 300. Like I mentioned earlier, Kretzer kept moving left, but finally reached a point where the Marvel Pearl just wasn’t strong enough on the transitioned 41 foot Shark pattern. We discussed it and he decided to go to a stronger ball so he could stay in the heavier oil and try to stay left of Belmo’s traffic. The only ball strong enough for the job was the brand spanking new Roto Grip Defiant (be sure to log onto http://www.rotogrip.com/products/balls/ball.asp?ballid=135 for details). It was definitely the right ball choice for what Kretzer wanted to do. On the other side, Belmo was still trying to settle down from the adrenaline rush, as well as figure out what the two lanes were doing. Bottom line, as fast as the lanes were changing, I don’t know if anyone on earth could have bowled more than 220 at that point. It got ugly in a hurry and we were quick to figure that whoever could make the least amount of errors, would likely advance. The 196 and 179 games were a lot lower than the 300 and 231 the game before; but again, no one can predict what will happen. That’s just how the ball rolls sometimes.