by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Even those that follow the PBA tour religiously may not have heard of John Nolen. In fact he was not even a choice to pick on the PBA fantasy bowling roster. With no PBA titles or television
experience, Nolen dominated during the second week of February in Las Vegas and claimed the major title of USBC Masters champion. The challenging lane conditions made it tough for even the best bowlers with the strongest equipment to get the ball to tip up in the back end. It was evident in the TV finals as we saw a ton of weak tens, one pocket 7-10 and a number of shots that could have left something with the 2 pin. A couple of our local favorites performed well in the Silver City. Matt McNeil averaged 212 in the opening 10 game block and found himself ahead of Walter Ray Williams and Pete Weber going into round 3. Chad Nelson held a 205 average and was ahead of Wes Malott after 10 games. Matt just missed the cut to 64 but I’m sure that round is in his future. I have to stand up for the old guys though. I think I was most impressed with the performance of Carmen Salvino, who posted a 204 average and was in the hunt with all the kids.
The stepladder final was obviously a battle of hairstyles. The opening match had Tommy Jones vs. Danny Wiseman. Danny’s hair is straight out of the fifties, first made popular by the likes of James Dean, Frankie Avalon, Elvis Presley, and perpetuated by the “Happy Days” Fonz. The top of Tommy Jones’ head resembles my Ebonite Wolf spare ball. Wiseman went on to battle Steve Harman, whose hair looks like every soldiers drill sergeant in boot camp. But the younger crowd got their fashion statement from Nolen, who had his hair neatly gelled in 67 different directions. John’s bowling style was a little unorthodox as he planted his foot several inches behind the foul line with virtually no slide, and very little knee bend. But no one can argue with success.
So now time will tell if Masters champion John Nolen will follow in the footsteps of former champs like Pete Weber who won more than a few titles in his career, or Bryon Smith, a Masters champion who never quite lived up to expectations.