The best of the Senior bowlers descended on Continental Lanes over the weekend of January 26th-27th to participate in the Riley Stewart 2019 Senior Scratch tournament. The 2018 defending champion, Tommie Whitten, was joined by 47 other bowlers for five games of qualifying on Saturday. The top five bowlers from the senior division (ages 55-64) and super senior division (ages 65+) then returned on Sunday for the stepladder finals.
Saturday’s qualifying started with big scores, led by Jerry Spearman with 269. Spearman, the only bowlers to have bowled a 300 game in the tournament in history, looked sharp out of the gate, but Jim Logan stayed close with a 257 start, followed by Don (Rusty) Gleason Jr’s 256 and Len Williams with 255. The average for the field was a respectable 207.29.
Second game average score was only down slightly at 205.14, as Ray Johnson fired back with a 268, followed by Murphy Shearer’s 256 and Rick Brown’s 255. Shearer’s 256 combined with a first game score of 235 to put Shearer in the lead for the senior division at 491, with Rick Brown trailing by only 1 pin at 490 after two games. In the Super Senior Division, Ray Johnson’s 268 second game launched him
Third game scores rose slightly, with an average of 205.75 as the bowlers started making the move for finishing in the top five of their respective divisions. Rick Brown took over the leader position on a strong 249, which combined with his previous two solid games to set the pace at 739 for the senior division. Bruce Milheim was the only other 700 for the seniors, and his first three games of 237-247-221 put him in second with 705, 34 pins behind Brown. In the Super Senior division, Len Williams came roaring back with a 299 high game of the tournament, to take the lead at 762. George Paynich also scored high with a 289 game to put him at 749, only 13 pins behind the Super Senior leader and the only other 700 series for the Super Seniors over the first three games.
Game four saw scores drop as the lane transition took hold and bowlers had to adjust for stubborn corner pins and oil carry down the lane. Average scores for the field were 200.81. Rick Brown increased his lead in the Senior division with a division high game of 258, bringing his four game total to 997. Murphy Shearer took over second place with 904, as Bruce Milheim dropped to third with 897. In the Super Senior division, Len Williams maintained his lead with a 212 game to bring his four game total to 974, while Ray Johnson roared back into second on the back of a 286 game with 967, only 7 pins behind.
Game five scores were the highest with an average of 208.06, as bowlers made the final push for the top five. In the Senior division, Rick Brown coasted to the top qualifier position with a 215 to put him at 1212, an average of 242.4 for the five games. Murphy Shearer held off tough competition to shoot 236 and take second at 1140, followed by Bruce Milheim with 1120, George Cherghezhan at 1109 and Jack Bullard at 1105. John Lovett Jr. just missed the cut with 1100 even. In the Super Senior division, Len Williams locked up the top qualifier with 222 to set the pace at 1196, while Ray Johnson, who also shot 222, finished second with 1189, only 7 pins behind. Charlie Tapp made a big move the last game, shooting 275 and jumping into third with 1169, followed by George Paynich at 1143 and Bill Stewart at 1131. Dennis Louden just missed the Super Senior cut by 8 pins at 1123.
Sunday’s stepladder finals started with Jack Bullard facing George Cherghezhan in the Senior division and Bill Stewart squaring up against George Paynich in the Super Senior division. Bullard came out swinging, defeating Cherghezhan xxx-xxx, and kept it rolling against Milheim, defeating him 212-211 in a back and forth hard fought match. In the Super Seniors, Stewart defeated Paynich xxx-xxx when Paynich caught a 7-10 split on a pocket shot in the 9th frame. Stewart nearly ended up with the same result the very next frame, but managed to trip the 10 pin and convert the spare. Stewart then ran into a wall when Charlie Tapp started with 7 in a row, defeating Stewart xxx-xxx.
In the third game, Bullard’s run came to an end as Murphy Shearer defeated him xxx-xxx as both bowlers struggled with oil carry down. In the Super Senior Division, Charlie Tapp battled Ray Johnson in a very close match, almost forcing a tie and roll off but coming up short when Johnson defeated Tapp 238-237 after Tapp left a stubborn 10 pin on his last shot.
In the division finals, Shearer lined up against Rick Brown and made the adjustment to defeat Brown 268-xxx after starting with two spares. In the Super Senior division, Johnson squared off against Len Williams but couldn’t overcome him, as Williams finished with 4 in a row to seal the win.
In the final game, Shearer and Williams moved to a fresh pair of lanes, which proved to be difficult to adjust. Shearer’s spare shooting proved to be the difference, as Shearer defeated Williams 203-163 to win the 2019 Riley Stewart Senior Scratch Tournament. Congratulations to champion Murphy Shearer, runner up Len Williams and all the finalists on a weekend of outstanding bowling!