By John Bassetti
The top three touring pros among a PBA Hubbard Open record field of 111 entries have their assessments of the Shark oil pattern that will be laid down for the opening qualifying round at Bell-Wick today.
Ryan Shafer says it will devour bowlers, Rhino Page thinks it will show its teeth and Ryan Ciminelli says it’s critical to out-maneuver the bowling beast.
The event’s official title is the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open presented by DV8.
Shafer, who lost to Ciminelli in the round of 16 last year, 3-2, said that the 43-foot pattern requires bowlers to play deeper inside [toward the middle], without over-swinging the ball.
“When most people play deeper inside, they want to over-swing the ball and it’ll hit the out of bounds,” Shafer said following Friday afternoon’s practice session. “That’s why I say probably half the field is eliminated before they even start — just because they’re not very good at throwing that angle.”
Ryan, of Horseheads, N.Y., said that a top finish this weekend depends on several facets of delivery.
“This is a tough house to cross,” he said of bowlers shifting lanes during their squads. “Different ends of the building play differently, so you’ve got to stay out of the grooves. I generally bowl okay on Shark, but things can happen. You don’t want to be overconfident, but you don’t want to have a bad attitude, either. [Friday’s] practice is to establish a plan of attack and follow it.”
Page, who beat Ciminelli for the 2012 PBA Hubbard Open title, explained that the Shark’s true pattern may not have manifested itself as of Friday.
“What matters is [today],” Page said. “Practice gives you an idea, but there’s still a lot of ‘house memory’ out there — spots that may not be there tomorrow,” the Dade City, Fla., resident said in explaining the remnant from repeated applications of Bell-Wick’s house pattern.
“When you lay out Shark conditions for the first time, sometimes the true ‘teeth’ of the pattern don’t come out [the first day]. The more oiled, the tougher it’ll get.”
Page has been battling a wrist injury, suffered earlier this year.
“Of course you want to defend your title, but I haven’t bowled in three weeks, so my expectation level isn’t huge. I’m competitive and want to win, but I’m also realistic, so I’m using this more as a warm-up for the Tournament of Champions [in Indianapolis in a week-and-a-half] just to get my body ready to go.”
He said he threw a ball for the first time in three weeks on Thursday.
“I stopped bowling when an MRI discovered a torn tendon and partially torn ligament in my left wrist. I’ve been trying to take it easy and, hopefully, the treatments will avoid surgery for me.”
Ciminelli most recently participated in the Masters in North Brunswick, N.J., at the end of February, when he placed 13th.
“I lost to Tommy Jones, 741-726, but you can’t be too upset when you roll those scores,” the Cheektowaga, N.Y., resident said.
In summarizing 2012, he said: “You always want to get a win to really feel good about a season, but, for not having a win, it can’t get much better,” Ciminelli said of finishing runner-up in the Tournament of Champions in 2011-12 and fourth in money and fourth in average.
“If I do that every year, I’ll be good.”
Ciminelli, who was the inaugural PBA Hubbard Open regional winner, ranks his national title two years ago as a career highlight.
Of the Shark pattern, he said: “Because of the surface [wood lanes], they’re going to play really tricky, so it’s a matter of figuring out where you need to be because the pattern isn’t dictating where you’re supposed to play.”
Rocio Restrepo will be the first female to compete in the Hubbard Open, but she’s got the credentials.
It’s been almost eight years since the Colombian native came the U.S. to bowl for Wichita State. In her time, the Shockers won national championships. She’s a 10-year member of the Colombian national team and Restrepo has five world [international] medals.
She’s also recently married and the couple lives in Canton.
A day after she and Joe Hostetler of Minerva were married a month-and-a-half ago, Hostetler bowled a 300 during the sixth game of the PBA Regular/Senior Doubles Classic at Legend Lanes in Akron. Restrepo equalled her new husband’s feat in the seventh game.