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WNY/Observations from the PBA Tour Finals in Pennsylvania – Video News Service

Video News Service presents local bowling news this fall

By Mike Pettinella
Especially for the Video News Service

The Professional Bowlers Association Tour headed to the eastern United States this weekend with the PBA Tour Finals – a special event featuring the eight bowlers with the highest point totals they have achieved in competition over the past two seasons.

The tournament was hosted at Steel City Bowl & Brews, a converted 24-lane facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The tournament was broadcast live on the CBS Sports Network on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Longtime bowling writer Mike Pettinella of Batavia was on hand for Friday night's festivities — which included practice sessions (and time to talk with participants) and a meet-and-greet autograph session with about 300 fans — and for both shows on Saturday.

Pettinella will bring his weekly bowling column, “Pin Points,” to the Video News Service for the 2024-25 season and will also publish weekly results of Genesee Region USBC league games and tournament highlights in print and video.

More details will be available in August.

Here are some observations from the PBA Tour final, won by 27-year-old two-handed striker Anthony Simonsen of Las Vegas, Nevada. Simonsen defeated Marshall Kent of Clarkston, Michigan, 40-38 in a ninth and tenthth Frame rolloff after each bowler had won a game in their two-game match.

The win was worth $30,000 for Simonsen, who now has 15 career PBA titles. Kent took home $15,000 for his second-place finish.

Jason Belmonte and Bill O'Neill finished third and fourth, each receiving $8,000, Kyle Troup and Jakob Butturff finished fifth and sixth, each receiving $6,000, and EJ Tackett and Packy Hanrahan finished seventh and eighth, each receiving $5,000.

For more information on the actual PBA Tour Finals competition, visit www.pba.com.

Rochester resident Justin Wyman (right) provides technical and logistical support for Professional Bowlers Association Tour events. (Photo by Mike Pettinella))

ROCHESTERIAN HAS KEY ROLE BEHIND THE SCENES

Although he says he doesn't have a specific job title, Justin Wyman of Rochester plays an important role when it comes to what goes on behind the television cameras.

Wyman, who opened the pro shop 12 X Tech LLC on Hylan Drive in Henrietta in 2022, has worked for the PBA for seven years.

“We design and build the set and control the graphics during the show,” he said. “We also handle the venue's sound and some of the supporting infrastructure like the announcer and camera platforms. There's a lot that goes into it.”

He said he travels thousands of miles by road to transport equipment to the various tournament venues.

“This is the last PBA show until the (PBA Elite) League in September (in Portland, Maine), but next weekend I have to go to Indianapolis for the U.S. Women's Open, and then in July for the Junior Gold (in Detroit) and then in August for the Women's Tour Championship (in Allen Park, Michigan),” he said. “We have a break from October to December, but then we check all the equipment to make sure everything is in good condition.”

Wyman, 41, a native of Penfield, said he got into the bowling business in 2002 after meeting Batavia native Ray DiSanto Sr., owner of Bowlers World pro shop in Rochester.

Australia's Jason Belmonte, the PBA Tour's most dominant player over the past 15 years, says saying his best days are over only motivates him to achieve more. (Photo by Mike Pettinella)

JASON BELMONTE RESPONSES TO CRITICISM ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Jason Belmonte, one of the first to use the two-handed style, admits he sees comments on social media questioning whether he can still win regularly. Although he came close in 2024, he failed to win a tournament after winning two in 2023 and five in 2022.

“Look, I've been very polarized my whole career. When things are going well, they like to throw rocks at you to bring you down, and when things aren't going so well, they like to kick you,” he said. “So every step of my career, there's always been a group of people that have made it harder.

“And I think it toughens me up more and it's more of a challenge for me mentally. And with 31 titles and 15 majors, I feel like I've been able to climb the mountains that they put in front of me every time. If they say so, it's just my job to go out there next year and tomorrow and prove to them that I'm still exactly where I'm supposed to be.”

When asked if he considers joining the PBA Senior Tour in 10 years (when he is 50), Belmonte said he will not go down that path.

“I have no intention of playing a single ball on the Senior Tour,” he said. “It's a long road to get here. I've been traveling not only here in the U.S. but all over the world since I was 16. I can tell you that when I'm 50, the last thing I want to do is travel to the U.S. and back for any Senior Tour stuff.”

He said that as he approaches 50, he will focus more on the big events – Masters, World Championship, Tournament of Champions, Players Championships – “and not bowl at the small stuff anymore.”

Batavia bowling writer Mike Pettinella (left) with EJ Tackett, the reigning PBA Player of the Year who is the favorite to win that title again in 2024 after winning two tournaments, including a major, and leading the tour in points, average and television appearances.

EJ TACKETT TALKS ABOUT HIS PATH TO THE TOP

There's no doubt that EJ Tackett makes the most of his 5-foot-7, 145-pound frame. The Ossian, Indiana, resident has one of the highest rev rates – the number of revolutions per minute of his bowling ball – on the PBA Tour, and he's no two-hander.

“I've always been a very small person and since I also play golf, I had to figure out ways to build strength,” he said. “Luckily, I could bowl and bowl and bowl. My dad taught me the basics and I just went from there.”

While growing up in his parents' bowling center, Tackett, now 31, developed a style that allowed him to win 23 PBA titles in 12 years, including five major tournament championships.

Tackett explained that the performance of today's bowlers is different from those of years ago.

“Today we release the ball in a downward motion (the so-called yo-yo release), whereas bowlers in the past learned to hit the ball upwards,” he said.

He also said that he believes the changes to the bowling shoe have contributed tremendously to the development of the game.

“Today's shoes have replaceable heels that allow bowlers to position themselves on the line and get the leverage needed for a powerful throw,” he said. “Old school bowlers still slip when they release the ball.”

Tackett has been on MOTIV’s bowling team since October 2012.

When asked why he signed with the Muskegon, Michigan-based company, he replied: “Because of the way Brett Spangler (the company's human resources director for the PBA) treated me in high school and later at the 2011 US Open.”

“He just treated me really well. And when I decided to go on tour, I called him. I asked, 'Brett, would MOTIV be interested in signing me?' He said, 'Yes,' and within 45 minutes I had a contract – and I made every shot as a professional with a MOTIV ball.”

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