For the past four years, Greg Black Jr.has made the 12-hour drive from his native Atlanta, Ga. to Cleveland, Ohio to bowl the Reed Hawthorne Singles Classic at Freeway Lanes. With a 263 average in the opening block of qualifying after years of struggle at this event, Black made that long drive worth every minute on Saturday.
“I have not bowled well at this event at all,” Black said after taking the lead in the Men’s division at +409 for 10 games. “This is the first time I did not get in as many brackets as I usually do. I am a brackets player, but this year I did not want to worry about losing money, I just wanted to worry about bowling well, because I really want to do well at this tournament.”
Though Black cooled off in the second block of qualifying, in which he struggled with carry and lane transition, his torrid pace in the first round was enough for him to maintain the lead. It also was a performance he will not soon forget.
“I was getting all the breaks in that first block,” Black says, “every break you can imagine. But I also threw the ball well. Everything just connected for me.”
On the women’s side, Elizabeth Sienicki of Mansfield, Texas leads the field at + 376 for 10 games. The standings are particularly tight on the women’s side, with the second, third and fourth-place players separated by just one pin.
“I think this is a great tournament, especially for the women,” former Team USA member Anita Mann says. “There are so many great women players that come out here; it’s a great opportunity for them, because women don’t have a lot that they’re able to bowl right now.”
In the senior division, two-time champion Ben Hoefs of West Bend, Wis. made a strong bid for a third Reed Hawthorne crown, averaging 255 for the day and opening up a 242-pin lead over second place.
“The lane pattern allowed me to play my A game today,” Hoefs explained. “My equipment matched up really well with this pattern, and I had the ability to repeat shots.”
This is the tenth year in a row that Hoefs and his wife Geri have made the eight-hour drive from West Bend to Cleveland to bowl this event.
“We’ve made an awful lot of friends at this event over the years,” Hoefs says. “There’s a lot of competition here, and it’s just a lot of fun. That’s why we keep coming back.”
The 53rd TNBA Reed Hawthorne Singles Classic once again features a field full of highly accomplished bowlers, including former USBC Masters Champion and Sport Bowling series record holder Brett Wolfe, former collegiate standouts such as Kayla Bandy and Steve Novak, and noted international players such as Colombia’s Rocio Restrepo.
The top 108 men, top 48 women and top 30 seniors return to Freeway Lanes Sunday for another round of qualifying. The field in each division is then cut once more, and a final round of qualifying gets underway to determine the top five players. Champions will be determined through a stepladder finals format.
Be sure to check back with BOWL.com Sunday for the latest on the 2012 TNBA Reed Hawthorne Singles Classic.