BY NOLAN HUGHES
The emotions poured out of Marshall Kent and EJ Tackett as they capped off a moment six years in the making. Making their fifth appearance in six years on the PBA Mark Roth/Marshall Holman Doubles stepladder, the teammates completed their ascent to emerge with the title.
“Winning with Marshall is so cool because we’ve been so close for so long,” Tackett said. “(Marshall) was in my wedding two years ago, and it’s just really cool to have that friendship with somebody and to share a moment like that.”
“It’s hard to describe without being in the situation,” he added. “It’s a feeling that you really can’t describe to anybody.”
Kent echoed Tackett’s tongue-tied sentiment. “I can’t even put in words honestly,” said Kent, who claimed his first PBA title since 2017. “We kind of joked last year, ‘All we’ve got to do is not qualify second because the last four times we made the show, we qualified second and lost.
“We qualified fourth, and here we are.”
This Roth/Holman Doubles event marked the first without Roth, who passed away in Nov. 2021. However, his presence was omnipresent across Bowlero Wauwatosa. Kent and Tackett, perhaps the most powerful one-handed righties in bowling, are the living embodiment of Roth, the man who revolutionized bowling in the 1970s and 80s.
The duo dominated all afternoon, winning four straight matches as their opponents failed to muster a valiant counterpunch. As the show progressed, a sense of inevitability grew.
Tackett said he has focused on keeping his upper body from getting too forward at the line, which has proven integral to his success thus far in 2022. But he realized following his loss at the US Open, which he led by over 500 pins, that his feet tend to go into “hyperdrive” when he bowls on TV.
“Today I really focused on staying slow,” he said. “I think that helped me be able to throw good shots, but also repeat shots. Because you get so amped up on TV with the adrenaline going, that when you feel slow, you’re actually going at a normal pace.”
If there were any lingering doubts about Tackett’s ability to succeed on television, he put them to bed once and for all: He struck on 16 of 24 shots, did not miss the pocket and painted lines like Picasso.
“My ball reaction on this pattern had been really good the whole time,” said Tackett, who led the field in the individual portion of qualifying. “Honestly, this is one of my best performances on TV that I’ve ever had. I felt like I threw really good shots all day.”
Kent managed to tame a left lane that gave everyone, with the exception of Sean Rash, fits. He struck on 13 of 20 shots, and ensured his misses left makeable spares.
“I kept telling my ball rep, ‘if I can find some to the right, then we’re in play,’” said Kent, who only moved two boards all afternoon. “Obviously EJ’s look was really good, so all I had to do was try to figure something out, and I found a little something in the track.”
Kent and Tackett defeated Tom Smallwood and Jason Sterner in the opening match 247-173. After exchanging spares to begin the second match, the duo fired the back-10 strikes to defeat the 2019 champions, Rash and Matt Ogle, 279-244.
Neither the semifinal against Osku Palermaa and Jakob Butturff, nor the final against Shawn Maldonado and DJ Archer were particularly close. Kent and Tackett dispatched the righty/lefty duo 225-187, then the tournament leaders 245-192. In the title match, they had nine strikes in a row before Kent opened in the tenth frame to expedite the coronation.
Kent and Tackett claimed their fifth and 15th career PBA titles, respectively. After finishing second or third in four of the past five years, this title doesn’t absolve previous shortcomings, but Kent said it “absolutely” feels like redemption.
Throughout their long-awaited celebration, the duo kept repeating the same three words: “We got one!”
- Marshall Kent / EJ Tackett $ 25,000
- Shawn Maldonado / DJ Archer $ 15,000
- Osku Palermaa / Jakob Butturff $ 12,000
- Sean Rash / Matt Ogle $ 9,000
- Tom Smallwood / Jason Sterner $ 7,000
GUARANTEED RATE PBA WORLD SERIES OF BOWLING XIII STREAMING AND TV SCHEDULE
Qualifying and match play – Mar. 4-5, 7-11, on FloBowling
PBA World Championship presented by Pabst Blue Ribbon – Mar. 13, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
PBA Cheetah Championship – Mar. 14, 8 p.m. ET on FS1
PBA Scorpion Championship – Mar. 15, 8 p.m. ET on FS1
PBA Shark Championship – Mar. 16, 8 p.m. ET on FS1
PBA Collegiate Invitational presented by Storm – Mar. 20, 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1