LAS VEGAS - United States Bowling Congress and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famers Amleto Monacelli of Venezuela and John Petraglia of Jackson, New Jersey, lead a group of 16 players undefeated after two rounds of match play at the 2016 USBC Senior Masters.
A total of 32 players remain in contention at Sam's Town Bowling Center from the 64 that began Friday's competition in the double-elimination match-play bracket.
Monacelli is the defending champion at the Senior Masters, and he is looking to become the first competitor to successfully defend the title since Tom Baker of King, North Carolina, accomplished the feat in 2007.
Monacelli nearly saw his journey back to the stepladder finals take a turn into elimination bracket in Friday's opening round. The 54-year-old right-hander delivered a double in the 10th frame to defeat Scott Greiner of Platte City, Missouri, 651-641.
"I tried to keep myself cool and stay relaxed, since I knew it was going to be a tough match," Monacelli said. "Scott had found the right look with the right ball, and the lanes were tough. I was playing the left lane straighter and looping it more with a different ball on the right lane, and it ended up being the right guess."
Monacelli rolled in his second match, 746-663, against Stoney Baker of Canton, Georgia, and will look to continue his march towards a repeat performance Saturday morning at noon Eastern against Michael Lucente of Warren, Michigan.
"I'm going to try and do the same thing tomorrow," Monacelli said. "I'm going to keep myself low key and adjust to what I see."
Petraglia earned his stay in the winners bracket after a dramatic second-round win against fellow USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Florida.
The 69-year-old left-hander knew he'd need a big finish to close out Duke and got there in perfect fashion, tossing the third 300 of the week to secure the victory, 790-742.
Petraglia entered the finale with a 27-pin advantage and got an unexpected opportunity to expand that lead early when Duke opened the final game with a 7-10 split. The two exchanged strikes the rest of the way, finishing the match 300-279.
"Norm doesn't make mistakes, and anytime he gets to bowl three games on the same pair of lanes, you know he's probably going to bowl well the last game," Petraglia said. "The lanes kept getting nicer the more we bowled, and I knew I had some room. You never expect to go out and shoot 790 or bowl 300 to get there, especially at an event like the Masters, which is pretty special."
Petraglia compared the feeling he had Friday against Duke to what he felt during his televised perfect game against Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida, in 1994. He now will look to match that feeling Saturday as he faces off against Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, New York, the runner-up at the 2014 Senior Masters.
"Your concentration level definitely rises in those situations and against guys like Walter and Norm, who you know probably aren't going to make a mistake," said Petraglia, the owner of 14 PBA Tour titles and eight PBA50 Tour victories. "I expect to need the same level of focus tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to it. This is exactly what it's all about and why I'm still bowling at 69 years old. I love it, and days like today make me love it more."
Also among undefeated players are 2013 champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Missouri, hall of famer Brian Voss of Centennial, Colorado, and local favorite Eric Forkel of Henderson, Nevada, who delivered in a must-strike situation on his first shot of the 10th frame to send top seed Parker Bohn III of Jackson, New Jersey, to the elimination bracket, 676-673.
Notable players joining Bohn in the elimination bracket are 2014 Senior Masters champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. and fellow USBC Hall of Famers Rick Steelsmith of Wichita, Kansas, Lennie Boresch of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Sam Lantto of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Duke.
All 32 remaining players will return to the lanes at Sam's Town on Saturday morning at noon Eastern.
The field will continue to be narrowed, and the final five players will be seeded into Sunday's stepladder finals, which will be broadcast live on BowlTV beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern. The winner of the stepladder will take home the top prize of $16,000 of a more than $131,000 prize fund.
The 2016 Senior Masters, an event open to USBC members age 50 and older, featured 263 players, who competed in 15 games of qualifying to determine who would advance to match play.