Russell the Magnificent

by Bob Johnson 0

Ronnie Russell, PBA bowler from Indiana, gave a masterclass in tournament bowling to the 250-plus Europeans playing the

Russell with the huge trophy

inaugural Brunswick Italia Challenge at the unique Red & Black bowling center in Asti, Italy, on finals day, June 26.

Coming second earlier in the week after the six-game qualifying round, along with the rest of the leading eight he enjoyed a late Sunday breakfast as that group were awarded byes into the third round. As qualifiers 9-48 fought two rounds of eliminations, Russell and compatriot Chris Loschetter wandered into the center in time to play the third round which consisted of eight players left from the earlier two rounds and those aforementioned eight from the elite octet.

This third stage called f four games, starting from scratch from which the leading eight would

Presentation party

advance to the quarterfinals. It was that Russell put his stamp of authority on the proceedings, opening with a 267, then hitting the tournament's fifth perfect game and finishing with 262 and 224 for a 1053 series.

He was chased by Italy's Enzo Zuccinelli who homed with 979 and it took 894 to make the cut into the final eight Those 9-16 took prizes for those positions, as did the finishers down to 48th place.

A very unusual format, unique to this event, saw qualifiers 1,3,5,7 play as a group on one pair of lanes, seeds 2,4,6,8 on the other pair, the lowest scorer to drop out after a one game match.

Russell stayed on his strikefest trail to top his group with 279  and was followed by Stuart Williams (253), Jimmy Dan Mortensen (162) and Paul Moor (236). Mortensen having the low score dropped out.

On the other pair, it was Chris Loschetter in the lead with 246 in front of Thomas Gross (207), Enzo Zucchinelli (202) to oust local hero Marco Reviglio by one pin (201).

The two trios then played a further game to cut the count to two, Russell remaining with 234 and Paul Moor staying with 225, whilst Williams bowed out with a lowly 221.

The other group had Zuchinelli drop out with 210 as Loschetter topped the scores with 229 and Gross struck out in the tenth for 231.

Now things got deadly serious with places in the final at stake. Russell had an easy victory over Moor, 247-171, and it was a closer encounter as Gross put Loschetter into the loers' bracket, 231-216.

The play-off for third and fourth places went down to the tenth frame, Loschetter emerging the victor, 254-248, so the final lined up Russell against Gross, the United States against Austria.

Russell had all four wheels on his wagon whilst Gross had only three, cruising to victory, 255-178.

Russell was well and truly mobbed by a passionate Italian crowd and many of the 260 international layers as he celebrated his victory, well deserved for such an impressive performance.

"I love bowling international tournaments," said Russell after his victory."The people are so friendly and it is great to socialize so much with all the friends. You just don't get that back home.

"The conditions and organization here have been fantastic and I am so thankful for Brunswick's support since I joined their staff a year ago. The new balls are just out of this world, as you can see by my performance here today and there a\re three more new ones just coming on the market.

"I would love to be able to bowl more European and Asian events and I will be back just as soon as I can, so many thanks to everyone for their friendliness and hospitality."



1. Russell, Ronnie USA M 255 0 255 R
2. Gross, Thomas AUT M 178 0 178 R
1. Loschetter, Chris USA M 254 0 254 R
2. Moor, Paul GBR M 248 0 248 L
1 Russell, Ronnie USA M 279 234 247 R
3 Williams, Stuart ENG M 253 221 - R
5 Mortensen, Jimmy DEN M 162 - - R
7 Moor, Paul GBR M 236 225 171 L


2 Zucchinelli, Enzo ITA M 202 210 - R
4 Reviglio, Marco ITA M 201 - - L
6 Loschetter, Chris USA M 246 229 216 R
8 Gross, Thomas AUT M 207 215 231 R


Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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