CHICAGO – The Professional Bowlers Association’s regional program, founded in 1970, has provided young bowlers with a proving ground to develop their skills in high-level competition against some of the sport’s established stars. That mix of PBA Tour stars and emerging young talent was evident when John Weber, Director of PBA Regional and PBA50 Tours, announced the 2015 PBA Regional Awards winners Tuesday.
Recognized in the eight PBA Regional awards programs are Players of the Year, Rookies of the Year, PBA50 Players of the Year and Pat Patterson Award winners, which are presented to an individual or company for significant contributions to the success of the regional program. Award winners are selected by the PBA’s regional managers: Russ Mills, East Region; Sam Zurich, South Region; Bob Jakel, Central Region; Rich Weber, Midwest Region; Pete McCordic, Southwest Region; Gary Mage, West and Northwest Regions, and Junia Yoshida, Japan Region.
Here’s a summary of 2015 PBA Regional award winners:
East Region: Patrick Allen of Mount Kisco, N.Y., a four-time winner in the region in 2015, was selected as Player of the Year. Josh Schmehl of Seaford, Del., earned Rookie of the Year honors after cashing in all five events he entered. Brian LeClair of Albany, N.Y., won twice and had top-five finishes in all six events in his PBA50 “rookie” season to win PBA50 Player of the Year honors. Richard Byrd of Parkville, Md., was the East Region’s Pat Patterson Award winner.
South Region: Jason Sterner, who now resides in Cocoa Beach, Fla., had five top-five finishes in the eight tournaments he entered, including three titles, to earn Player of the Year honors. Brandon Curtis of Manson, N.C., had two top-five finishes in his four events, including a fourth-place finish, to capture Rookie of the Year honors. PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker of King, N.C., was named PBA50 Player of the Year for the fourth time after 10 cashes in 10 events, including three titles and four top-five finishes. Ed Tenan of Hayes, Va., was selected as Pat Patterson Award recipient.
Central Region: Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., won once and had five top-five finishes in capturing the Central Region Player of the Year award. Anthony Kennard of Wapakoneta, Ohio, won his first PBA Regional title and cashed five times in nine events to earn the Central Region’s Dan Ottman Rookie of the Year award. Lennie Boresch Jr. of Kenosha, Wis., won PBA50 Player of the Year honors with four top-five finishes including two titles in four events. Jim Bryant of Hubbard, Ohio, was the Pat Patterson Award honoree.
Midwest Region: Mitch Beasley of Clarksville, Tenn., won twice and had six top-five finishes while earning $21,295 to win Midwest Region Player of the Year honors. AJ Johnson of Oswego, Ill., won his first PBA Regional title and had four top-five finishes in seven events to earn the Rookie of the Year nod. Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich., repeated as Midwest PBA50 Player of the Year, winning one title and finishing in the top five eight times in nine PBA50 events. Ted Baer of Omaha received the Midwest Region Pat Patterson Award for the second time.
Southwest Region: Two-hander Shawn Maldonado of Houston racked up four wins in 14 tournaments to earn his second consecutive Southwest Region Player of the Year honor. He also had one runner-up two thirds and two fifth- place finishes. Will Barnes of Austin, Texas, completed his Rookie of the Year campaign with five cashes in 10 events, including his first regional title. David Scardaville of Houston won one of the two events he entered to earn PBA50 Player of the Year honors. Jimbo Evans of Lubbock, Texas, won his second Southwest Pat Patterson Award.
West Region: Scott Norton of Mission Viejo, Calif., won four titles in seven PBA West Region events to earn Player of the Year honors. Jakob Butturff of Chandler, Ariz., earned West Region Rookie of the Year with the help of four match play finals in the five tournaments he entered. Two-time PBA50 Player of the Year Ron Mohr of Las Vegas made it a double by earning PBA50 Player of the Year honors in both the West and Northwest Regions. In the West he had two wins, two second-place and one third place finish. Ted Hoffman of Dublin, Calif., who won the West Region’s inaugural Pat Patterson Award 43 years ago, in 1972, won it again in 2015.
Northwest Region: Two-time PBA Tour winner Josh Blanchard won Northwest Player of the Year honors with three top-five finishes that included one win, a third and fourth. Newcomer Cameron Weier of Federal Way, Wash., earned Region Rookie of the Year honors with five top-five finishes in five events including his first title. Ron Mohr of Las Vegas earned PBA50 Player of the Year honors in both the West and Northwest Regions. In the Northwest he had one win and two second-place finishes in the three events he entered. Grants Pass, Ore., proprietor and PBA50 competitor Kevin Croucher was recipient of the Northwest Region’s Pat Patterson Award for the third time.
Japan Region: Pat Nolan earned PBA Japan Region Player of the Year honors as the region’s leading player in competition points. Japan Bowling Promotion, under the leadership of managing director Shinichiro Kinoshita, was the winner of the Pat Patterson Award. Rookie and PBA50 awards were not presented in Japan in 2015.
The PBA conducted approximately 170 regional events during the 2015 season, including standard events, PBA50 and PBA60 events for players 50 and/or 60 years and older, “challenge” events for players who had not previously won PBA titles, and PWBA-PBA Women’s Regional events. The leading players in competition points in standard and PWBA-PBA Women’s events from each region were awarded paid entries into GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VII in Reno, Nev., in December, and were invited to compete for berths in the PBA Regional and PWBA-PBA Women’s Regional finals as part of the ESPN-televised PBA Challenge Finals.
During the 2015 season, the PBA Regional program also hosted a series of Xtra Frame PBA Tour events which included live online video streaming, enhanced prize funds and PBA Tour titles for the winners.