With another outstanding record in 2014 PBA Tour major championships, Australian two-handed competitor Jason Belmonte picked up where he left off in 2012-13 to earn his second consecutive GEICO Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award.
Belmonte, along 2014 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash.; Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner Brett Spangler of Niles, Ohio, and Tony Reyes PBA Community Service Award winner Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, Calif., were recognized during a presentation webcast live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel Monday in advance of the PBA Players Championship/Mark Roth–Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship preliminary rounds which get underway Tuesday at AMF Bowlero in suburban Milwaukee.
An overwhelming winner in balloting among his fellow competitors and a panel of veteran bowling journalists over Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, and Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., Belmonte won three PBA Tour titles in 2014 including back-to-back majors in the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions and United States Bowling Congress Masters. He also won the Oklahoma Open during the Grand Casino Resort Summer Swing, and led the PBA Tour in earnings ($163,788), average (226.71) and competition points (136,454).
He is the only two-handed player to win the PBA Player of the Year award. He joined Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli (1989 and ’90) as the second international player to win PBA Player of the Year honors in back-to-back years, and he joined Monacelli and Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi as the third foreign-born player to win PBA’s highest annual honor. Belmonte is the sixth player to win the POY award in consecutive years. Walter Ray Williams Jr., Earl Anthony (twice) and Mark Roth all won the honor three years in a row.
During the 2014 season, Belmonte defeated Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, with a strike on his last shot to win the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions by a single pin in January at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., 219-218. A month later, he defeated top qualifier EJ Tackett of Huntingon, Ind., 221-177, to become the third player to win back-to-back Masters titles, joining Hall of Famers Billy Welu (1964 and 1965) and Dick Hoover (1956 and 1957) in that exclusive club. The 31-year-old Australian then won four straight matches on a demanding Bear lane condition to win the Oklahoma Open, defeating Tackett in the title match, 193-145, for his 10th career title.
“The PBA boasts the best bowlers in the world and we aspire to be the best of the best,” Belmonte said. “To be standing here, holding this award again, is very special.
“I don’t put myself in the category of the other guys who have won Player of the Year back-to-back,” he added, “but one day I hope I can join that elite group.
“I also want to thank the haters,” Belmonte said of those who criticize his two-handed style. “It seems like the more you hate, the better I bowl, so keep it up.”
Kent, one of the Tour’s top young stars at age 23, won the Saudi Arabia Kingdom International Open in December for first PBA Tour title. He defeated Sweden’s Martin Larsen, 257-206, in championship match. Prior to joining the PBA in the summer of 2014, Kent won the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Munich, Germany, as an amateur.
Kent, a former collegiate star at Robert Morris-Illinois University, also finished fourth in the Badger Open, his first television appearance as a PBA member, losing to Brian Valenta in the second stepladder match, 236-165. He dominated PBA rookies for the season, earning $32,528 and averaging 217.03 in only a half season as a professional.
“(Winning Rookie of the Year) was the main goal when I joined and to be able to accomplish that feels great,” Kent said. “It’s an honor and a privilege, and to get my first title, too, makes it even better. It was just in time for me to bowl in the 50th anniversary PBA Tournament of Champions.”
Also during the Xtra Frame webcast, PBA awarded its prestigious Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award, selected by PBA Tour players, to Brent Spangler of Niles, Ohio. The 33-year-old, nine-year PBA member has gained the respect and admiration of his fellow competitors not only on the lanes, but for his help as a representative for MOTIV bowling balls.
“Winning (the Nagy award) was a surprise. Actually, being nominated was a surprise,” Spangler said. “I’ve worked really hard on my physical game in order to become competitive, but the thing I really wanted to do when I came out on tour was to exemplify the principles I believe in – being nice to other people, earning respect, that kind of thing. I guess at least some people took notice.”
In Nagy voting among PBA Tour players, Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., and four-time Nagy winner Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., tied for second place behind Spangler.
Established in 1966, the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award is named after the late PBA Hall of Famer and founding members of the PBA. A colorful and talented performer, Nagy made such an impact on his fellow pros that the award was established shortly after his death.
Parkin, a three-time PBA Regional titlist, earned the second Tony Reyes Award which recognizes a PBA member for outstanding community service, charitable and/or educational contributions over the course of a PBA Tour season. The first woman to join the PBA when the opportunity became available in 2004, Parkin was recognized largely for her work in organizing the Baby Reesa Foundation fundraiser which supports families with children born with Krabbe Disease and has raised more than $20,000.
Parkin is a staunch supporter of the sport, serving as a volunteer USA Bowling and Junior Gold instructor. She regularly donates her time organizing other charity bowling tournaments. She also provides autographed jerseys, bowling balls and photos that are auctioned for charities such as BVL, Ronald McDonald Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
”I’m very surprised,” Parkin said. “Just the fact that the award is named after Tony makes it very special. He was a special guy. His smile would light up any room he walked into. To receive an award named for him is such an honor.”
The Reyes award is named after the popular PBA Tour titlist who died in September 2012 of injuries sustained in a traffic accident near his home in San Bruno, Calif. Parker Bohn III was the first Tony Reyes award recipient in 2014.
For a complete list of PBA Players of the Year, click here.
For a complete list of PBA Rookies of the Year, click here.
For a complete list of Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winners, click here.