By John Bassetti
One thing for sure is that the PBA Hubbard Open will have a new champion for 2014.
With former winners Ryan Ciminelli (2011), Rhino Page (2012) and Joe Ciccone (2013) elsewhere, the fourth champ will emerge from a field of 16 who qualified on Saturday at Bell-Wick Bowl.
Those returning for a 10 a.m. start today are: Kyle Troup (1938 pinfall), E.J. Tackett (Huntington, Ind./1933); Jack Jurek (1924); Jim Pitts (Elmira, N.Y./1923); Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind./1922); T.P. Peterson (Evergreen Park, Ill./1875); Josh Conner (Columbus/1862); Tom Smallwood (Saginaw, Mich./1861); Kyle Bigelow (Troy, O./1860); Kerry Smith (1852), Brian Robinson (Morgantown, W.Va./1828); Michael Machuga (Erie, Pa./1826); Ray J. Edwards (Middle Island, N.Y./1825); Dakota Hyde (West Monroe, N.Y./1819); Lou Mann (Monongahela, Pa./1803) and Jeff Zaffino (Warren, Pa./1803.
After 12 games of round-robin match play, five will advance to the stepladder finals at 3:30 p.m.
After their eight-game bloc during the morning session of the Hubbard Open on Saturday, at least two bowlers were comfortable knowing they’d advanced to today’s round of 16.
Finishing 1-2 in the “A” squad that began at 9 a.m. were Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C. and Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y. About an hour-and-a-half before the “B” squad took to the lanes in the afternoon, Troup and Jurek had secured spots after the tournament’s opening eight games at Bell-Wick Bowl.
Troup was first among the 62-person morning squad with 1938 pinfall, while Jurek followed with 1924.
The 22-year-old Troup, son of senior bowler Guppy Troup, experienced much different conditions after moving to different lanes. But his powerful style helped.
“I ran into a little bit of transition when I was on the lower [numbered] lanes, but I got lucky with plastic for a few games,” he said of using a White Dot.
“The lower-numbered lanes weren’t cut [older-wood end as opposed to surfaces redone on 17-32 where the wood is newer], so they hooked a little bit more. It was like night and day, but I got through that and had a good day.”
During his seventh game, Troup threw two straight gutter balls to finish with 238.
“It wasn’t a normal 230 game,” said Kyle, whose father was bowling in a senior regional in Franklin, Va. this weekend.
Kyle Troup’s most recent event was in a PBA Southern Region event in Pensacola, Fla. last week when he was runner-up.
He said that the 52-foot pattern in Pensacola was different than the 35 feet at Hubbard because the length of oil was put down in the Badger pattern as opposed to the 35 of oil in the Cheetah pattern.
“You’ve got to throw a little bit harder on this pattern,” he said.
Jurek said he started a little slow, then made a switch to urethane and bowled really well the last four.
“Once I got a ball that was a little less reactive and I was able to play off the gutter pretty good,” he said. “The lanes were pretty consistent for me the last four or five games.”
He still considers himself full-time on the national tour in the States.
“There’s just not that much out there [without going overseas] because the majority of the stops are in the World Tour.,” said Jurek, who bowled in the Masters [in New Jersey] in February, the Tournament of Champions in January and the World Series of Bowling [in Las Vegas] in the fall.
He hasn’t done well, though, so far.
“There hasn’t been a lot of good this year, yet. The T of C didn’t go well and I missed cashing by a little in the Masters,” he said. “In the World Series, I had a couple good days that were ruined with one bad game each day.”
A year ago at Hubbard, Jurek was the No. 1 qualifier, but lost his first match in the elimination bracket.
As opposed to last year’s matchplay segment, this year’s round-robin format allows each of the 16 qualifiers (after 8 games) to hang around for at least 12 games before going to the top five stepladder finals.
“I like my chances for staying around a while,” Jurek said of his hope today.
Kerry Smith of Lititz, Pa. was one of two women bowling Saturday — the other being Colombia’s Rocio Restrepo, who was the only woman in the 2013 Hubbard Open.
Smith was sixth among “A” squad bowlers with 1852, including 767 over the last three games, a 232 eight-game average and a 262 eighth game.
“The Cheetah is one of my strongest lane patterns,” said the 29-year-old Smith, who only changed balls twice.
“After a game-and-a-half, I switched to another ball, then switched back [to her Titanium Nail] to start the third game.”
Smith, not a PBA member, was bowling as a guest entry in only her second PBA event (the other in York, Pa.), but she is on the Hammer staff.
Eric Tackett, a cousin of Tour bowler E.J. Tackett, had a bad day.
“Pretty pitiful to say the least,” is how Eric Tackett, 24, described his eight-games during the “A” squad.
“I had the worst over-under reaction to start,” he said of conditions on different lanes that produced two different surfaces: one with more friction than the other. “They hooked more down at the lower end [lower-numbered lanes] of the house than the upper end. I should have gotten on top of it quicker than I did.”