Monacelli earns top seed for finals at 2021 Super Senior Classic

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Standings: Cashers' Round | Match Play | Group Stepladders

LAS VEGAS -
United States Bowling Congress and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli of Venezuela knew he'd be returning to Sam's Town Bowling Center as the defending champion at the USBC Senior Masters, and arriving early would've given him the opportunity to watch some of the 2021 Super Senior Classic.

When the competition dates for the two events shifted from June to September, it meant Monacelli also would be able to compete in the Super Senior Classic, which is for USBC members age 60 and older.

He turned 60 on Aug. 27 and has taken full advantage of the opportunity, outdistancing a field of nearly 160 competitors to earn the No. 1 seed for Monday's championship round.

The right-hander topped the standings after the first day of qualifying, and again after the Cashers' Round, and he was able to ride that momentum to an automatic spot in the title match.

All rounds of competition at the Super Senior Classic, along with next week's Senior Masters, are being broadcast live on BowlTV. The Super Senior Classic champion will take home a $7,500 top prize.

"To finish this off would feel great, and that was my goal coming in, of course," said Monacelli, a 10-time PBA50 Tour winner and 20-time PBA Tour titlist. "It has been my goal since I found out I would be able to bowl, but there is a little bit of added pressure. Some people expect me to win because it's my first year or because I'm Amleto Monacelli, but it doesn't work that way. You still need to perform. It's only one more game, though, so if I do the things I've done well so far, I'll be OK."

Monacelli averaged 229.33 over 24 games and added 30 bonus pins for each of his four wins in match play for a 5,624 total, which bested Glenn Smith of New York, his roommate this week, by 144 pins.

The two finished the Cashers' Round first and second in the standings, and that meant they were headed in different directions when the 12 match-play competitors were split into two groups for six games of round-robin matches.

Monacelli's performance topped the Group A standings, and Smith was the top performer in Group B, guaranteeing them the top two seeds for the championship round. The final seeding was determined by total pinfall. Smith finished with 5,480, which included 30 pins for each of his two victories in match play.

The two jockeyed for the lead throughout the event, and it was confirmation to Smith that the work he has been putting on his game, with help from Monacelli and others, is paying off.

Now, it's time for the next test in his journey.

"I just have to focus on my tempo, making good, clean shots and not letting the moment get in my way," said Smith, a 61-year-old rookie on the PBA50 Tour this year. "This is new territory for me and the first time I'm even in the top 10 at a national stop. It's an amazing feeling to have even accomplished this over the qualifying and match play to get to the show. Now, I have to do all the things I've worked on over the last six months and make good shots."

Before Monacelli and Smith get to take the lanes Monday, the other two spots for the finals must be determined.

The second, third and fourth seeds from each match-play group will face off in simultaneous group stepladders, with the winners claiming the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the finals. Their seeding will be based on their averages for the event.

The group stepladders will get underway at noon Eastern, and the final round is scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT.

In the Group A stepladder, a pair of bowlers from the Pacific Northwest, Hugh Miller of Mercer Island, Washington (5,283), and Michael Karch of Edgewood, Washington (5,220), will meet in the first match, and the winner will take on USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida (5,451).

The opening match of the Group B stepladder will include 2017 Super Senior Classic champion Ron Mohr of Las Vegas (5,356) against Darryl Bower of Middletown, Pennsylvania (5,108), and the winner will meet Widmar Vargas of Sun City Center, Florida (5,424).

The 12 bowlers in match play Sunday at Sam's Town emerged from the 40-competitor Cashers' Round based on their 18-game pinfall totals.

The entire tournament field bowled 12 games over two days, before the 12-game totals determined who advanced to the six-game Cashers' Round, which was held Sunday morning.

Defending champion Ty Dawson of Sunnyvale, California, finished in 42nd place, just missing the initial cut.

If Monacelli is going to continue to ride this fateful wave of success, he knows it will take a combination of skill, luck and internal calmness.

"It's always a little bit of luck involved, but at the same time, that's something that's in you when you're bowling well," Monacelli said. "My key has been more about my mental game. I know what I want to do and what I want to feel, but my mental game needs to be relaxed in order to do that."

Following the conclusion of the Super Senior Classic, many of the competitors will shift gears for the Senior Masters, and that event will get underway Tuesday with the first of three days of qualifying. The field of 250 of the best USBC members age 50 and older will compete for a $20,000 top prize and PBA50 Tour major title.

Monacelli is the defending champion at the Senior Masters and looking to become the first bowler to win in back-to-back years, since Tom Baker of King, North Carolina, achieved the feat in 2007.

The Super Senior Classic and Senior Masters are returning to the 56-lane Sam's Town Bowling Center together for the fifth time, a routine that began in 2016. The Senior Masters will be the final event of the 2021 season.