Jimmy and Sue May, TD
After a 14 year absence, the AWBA returned to the Richmond, Virginia area for the 53rd National Championships, hosted by Jimmy and Sue May. To say they went beyond the call of duty would be an understatement as the 60 bowlers that attended experienced 6 days of gracious treatment and wonderful accommodations. Bowl American did an excellent job in addressing most every need of all that attended.
The event kickoff with the Up/Down held Monday night. The Colorado team of Mike DeLoach and Mark Shepherd along with two local bowlers with excellent games as well, took the Up/Down Crown. It certainly didn’t hurt to have one of those locals be an ex PBA bowler. Great job by all!!!!
Tuesday began the Welker Scratch Doubles with 24 teams competing for the Doubles Crown. In the end, Kevin Schaefer, (CA), and John Budd (IN) won the event. It was Kevin 2nd National Doubles Crown, the first coming with Billy Birch as his partner. They were closely followed by John Sharp and Ronald Richardson of Virginia for second place. In order to advance to the finals, Kevin and John won a 2 frame roll off against Walt Roy and Eddy Hutchens.
Wednesday began the Handicap Team event was conducted with 15 teams were vying for the title. In the end, John Sharp, (VA) Keith Green, (VA) and Phillip Daniel, (TX) were crowned the 2014 National Champions. Little did Keith know he had bigger things in store for the “B” Division. Wednesday afternoon the Tournament of Champions was contested among all present that had won prior National Championships. In the Scratch Division, Mark Shepherd was crowned the new TOC winner and in Handicap, Mike Destasio was crowned the new TOC winner. Wednesday evening we were all treated to a wonderful social as the food was wonderful and the music, performed by “Back in Da Day” was outstanding. Numerous door prizes were given to those present. The evening ended with the performers giving tribute to those in wheelchairs that have overcome numerous obstacles to attain greatness. Just a great evening.
Thursday morning began with an introduction of those sponsors that were present. We were blessed to have a young high school girl sing our National Anthem, and the ceremonial first ball was rolled by a County commissioner which did a great job with the second ball and the singles competition began. In the scratch division, great bowling as always even though they found the lanes to be somewhat difficult. In the end, George Holscher of Virginia was the High Qualifier. In the “A” Division, Johnnie Baylark of Illinois was the High Qualifier and in the “B” Division, Ladon Chambers of Virginia was the High Qualifier.
In the “B” Division roll-offs, Don Porpora, (FL) defeated reining champ Tom Walthall (VA), 237-213. He then went on to defeat Andy Bernt (FL), 236-200. Don then met his match being defeated by Keith Green (VA), 230-220. In the match for the B division championship, Keith Green defeat fellow Virginia native Ladon Chambers, 246-191, giving Keith his first National Singles title.
In the “A” Division roll-offs, Terry Stewart. (TX) defeated Mike VanDyke, (VA) 213-193. He then took on Keith Scott (VA), being defeated 223-170. Keith then faced J.K. Johnston, (TX) and was defeated 216-192. For the “A” Division title match pitted JK against Johnnie Baylark (ILL) with JK coming out victorious in the end, 197-185 capturing the “A” Division Crown. It was JK second National title, winning the “A” division some 14 years ago.
In the Scratch Division roll-offs, 4 contestants were passed National Scratch Champions!! The first match placed Walt Roy, (CA) 5 time National Scratch Champion, against Mike DeLoach (CO). Mike defeated Walt, 188-177. He then took on 2013 Scratch Champion Mark Shepherd, (CO), winning 194-154. Next victim was Shawn Beam (TX), winning handily, 170-145. For the Scratch Championship, Mike faced high qualifier and native Virginia son, George Holscher. Mike defeated George by reverting to his backup ball release winning 202-170 for his first National Singles Title.
Other awards given were the Buddy Cole Award to Keith Green for an improvement of +298. Janet Norwood won the Alma Ladwig award as the top female bowler. The prestigious Richard Carlson All Events Champion went to George Holscher in the Scratch Division and Johnnie Baylark and Andy Bernt, Handicap Division, tying for the championship. The Bill Hart Sportsmanship Award went to Jerry Mills of Virginia and Johnnie Baylark captured the Seniors Title. The 53rd ended with a wonderful Awards Banquet Saturday night at the host hotel with all the awards being presented to the winners.
Finally we want to thank some very special people and sponsors. But we first want to thank the 60 bowlers that attended and we hope you enjoyed your stay. A special thanks goes out to the AWBA Auxiliary for their support throughout the year. We want to thank Linda Schneider and Helena Roy for once again handling every issue in a calm and professional manner. Our National Sponsors, Storm Bowling, National PVA, ABC Medical, and the USBC for your continued support of our National Championship and the sport of wheelchair bowling. To Independent Wheels, Mid-Atlantic PVA, Hilton Hotels, Bowl America, all those that purchased raffle tickets, and to those AWBA members that assisted financially with your gift to this event, thank you all so very much. Sue and I truly enjoyed having you all in Virginia for this event and we are now looking forward to a few days of rest and then helping where we can, to make the 2015 AWBA National Championships in Tampa, Florida a huge success.
Mark Shepherd – Scratch
Mike Destasio – Handicap
Bill Hart Sportsman