Bowling: Ari Wilson beats tough competition for P-T title
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent January 12, 2014 9:14PM
Ari Wilson reacts after throwing a strike during the Post-Tribune Sport Shot Classic bowling tournament men's division final held at Stardust Bowl III in Dyer on Sunday January 12, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 12, 2014 9:14PM
DYER — To reach the men’s championship of Sunday’s Post-Tribune Winter Sport Shot Classic, University Park’s Ari Wilson had to defeat to some noteworthy opponents in a five-game span.
After winning in the first round, Wilson defeated a trio of Professional Bowlers Association members, starting with top qualifier Brian Valenta, then Kevin Kullman and three-time PBA National Champion Eugene McCune, before edging Kankakee’s Gene Kanka 200-187 in the final.
The Calumet College student opened the championship game with four strikes, but was stopped in the fifth with a 1-2-10 washout that resulted in an open frame.
He bounced back with two more strikes before another split led to an open.
Kanak strung together four spares and an eight count to close out his game, forcing Wilson to mark in the 10th, which he did with a simple spare.
“I made the wrong adjustments in those two frames where I split,” said Wilson, who generates a lot of ball speed and revolutions with a two-handed release. “I kept getting light hits, but I managed it and I’m obviously very happy with the end result.
“I don’t think the whole feeling has hit me yet. I’m still in bowl mode because I have league (Sunday night) at Lakewood.”
Against McCune, Wilson said he was just trying to make good shots.
“I call Eugene the King of Stardust,” Wilson said. “Just keeping up with him was the plan. When he fell off, I just wanted to make sure I was making my shots.”
For Kanak, he had an equally challenging road to the finals. He reached the quarterfinals by defeating sharpshooter and P-T Fall Sport Shot Classic winner John Riffle, advanced to the semifinals with a win over league teammate Tony Hubert, and reached the finals by defeating Darrell Gilbert Jr., in a 157-146 grinder game.
“In the championship match, I was hoping his open late would set me up,” said Kanak, who was competing in his first P-T event. “If I was able to shoot well in the ninth and 10th, I could force his hand like I was able to against a couple of my opponents.”
“But I left a flat ten pin in the ninth, and that pretty much sunk me.”