By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Held in Anderson for the first time, the Professional Bowlers Association Central Region Open gave bowling enthusiasts the opportunity to see the pros up close this weekend.
Mark Kratky and his son, Ben, 12, came out Sunday afternoon because they both love the sport and play in leagues in Indianapolis.
“It’s awesome,” Mark Kratky said. “It’s great to be so close to the pros.”
Ben placed first in the state this year for singles scratch for boys — with a cracked wrist he didn’t find out about until a day or so later — and he has his own ambitions of going pro.
“It’s just addictive to me, you could say,” Ben said of bowling. “This is something I dream of being.”
Pro bowler Brett Spangler said Cooper’s Sport Bowl, 1920 E. 53rd St., agreed last-minute to hold the tournament after the original location fell through.
He added it’s an “outstanding facility” and that Cooper’s did a great job promoting the event.
“It’s one of the best tournaments of the year already,” he said, “even with (Cooper’s) first time doing it.”
Spangler, of New Castle, helped bring the Central Region Open to Cooper’s. He graduated from Anderson University and said working at Cooper’s really got him involved with the sport he’s always enjoyed.
“I enjoy the travel, competition, love the guys,” he said. “It’s a combination of all of those things.”
Spangler has been a pro bowler for five years and placed 14th Sunday. He won the 2010 Central Region event in Monroe, Mich.
Cathy Cooper said they’ve hosted the PBA Seniors before, but that having the Central Region Open here for the first time has been very rewarding.
“It’s a great opportunity to have our bowlers see the regional bowl tour,” she said.
Friday night, the pro bowlers bowled alongside kids during their own competition for a fun, unique experience, Cooper said.
It was winner Craig Nidiffer’s, of Trent, Mich., second PBA Regional and he said winning felt incredible.
“I didn’t expect to come here and win,” he said, “especially with the caliber of players.”
Finishing second was first seed Ronnie Russell of Marion.
Spectator Liz Reynolds was at Cooper’s with her boyfriend Sunday and said she only wishes she had the skill the pros have.
“We love the sport, it’s a lot of fun, and we heard pro bowlers were going to be here so we thought we’d come watch,” she said.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino sponsored the tournament that represented 15 states and had 84 bowlers. Next for region winners is the World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas.
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