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Bowling: Gary Clark wins inaugural P-T Men’s Senior event

Gary Clark DeMotte bowls senior finals during Post-Tribune Men's Awards Tournament Stardust Bowl III Sunday May 26 2013 Dyer Ind.

Gary Clark of DeMotte bowls in the senior finals during the Post-Tribune Men's Awards Tournament at Stardust Bowl III Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Dyer, Ind. | Scott M. Bort~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 28, 2013 6:46AM



DYER — One ball change is all it took for Gary Clark to make a little Post-Tribune bowling tournament history.

“You’ll always be the first,” said Jim Helmecy, who was Clark’s opponent in the final of the first P-T Senior Men’s Awards Tournament.

Clark switched to a Reign of Power Storm ball in the 10th frame of his semifinal victory over Bob Nikolich, found something with it, and went on to defeat top seed Helmecy 212-174 in the championship match.

“It hooks a little more,” Clark said.

But Clark admitted fortune was on his side in the final against a former Professional Bowlers Association Senior Tour member.

After throwing three consecutive strikes in frames five through seven, Clark left a pocket 4-9 split.

“When he left that, I said, ‘OK, I got a break,’ and then it was ‘never mind,’” Helmecy said.

That’s because Clark picked up the tough spare, and cruised in the last two frames.

“You get lucky sometimes,” Clark said. “I threw the right shot at the right time (on the spare). Unfortunately for Jim, he opened in back-to-back frames (seventh and eighth) to give me a chance.”

Helmecy rolled 795 to earn the top senior seed and eighth place overall, but it was tougher on the championship pair of lanes.

“I had a ball that felt best, but I lost my speed,” he said.

Nikolich defeated Jimi George in the first stepladder match 203-176.

Grind-out scoring pace: The 38-foot Puzzle Piece oil pattern played tougher than some thought it would. But other qualifiers in the annual P-T invite-only (bowlers qualify by rolling award scores in local league or tourneys, or winning various local tourneys) loved it.

“You could get to the pocket, but you had to make shots and there were times I didn’t make good shots,” said two-time P-T Tournament champion and Lakeshore Bowling Association doubles champ Don Draia, who averaged 181 in four games. “We’re all supposed to be good and I was happy with the shot.”

Fellow association tourney champ Jeff Snuffer took it a step further.

“It was the best scoring pace ever,” said the Lakeshore Association president who rolled 735 to finish 23rd in the open division.



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