BY EMIL WILLIAMS JR.
Join Graham Fach and Tommy Jones as finalists in the season’s first major
EULESS, Texas – Midwest Region top seed Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, squeaked by Matthew Russo of Manchester, Missouri, while Southwest Region No. 2 seed Arturo Quintero of Plano, Texas, defeated top seed Dom Barrett of Great Bentley, England, to earn the next two spots in the Professional Bowlers Association Players Championship Finals presented by Snickers.
The matches took place at Bowlero Euless and were broadcast live on Fox Sports’ FS1 as part of a six-show series that will determine the first major champion of the 2022 PBA Tour season.
The first five shows are regional showdowns, featuring the five remaining players in each region, who have converged on the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a shot at the $ 100,000 top prize.
Rash and Quintero now join Graham Fach (East) and Tommy Jones (South) in the finals. Fach and Jones won their respective regional finals Saturday evening, also live on FS1. The West Region Finals will wrap up the regional broadcasts and will air live on FS1 on Monday at 7 p.m. EST.
The final match of the Midwest Region Finals was an emotional rollercoaster for Rash, who is looking for his third major title and 18th career PBA title overall.
After eight complete frames, Rash trailed Russo by 17 pins. Russo stepped up in the ninth frame with a chance to move closer to victory, but he left the 2-4-6-7-10 split. In thrilling fashion, Russo converted the troublesome leave to remain in the lead.
After sparing a 10 pin in the ninth frame, Rash struck on the first shot of his 10th frame but left the 3-6 combination on his next offering. He converted the spare to finish with a 207 game. Russo needed 9 pins on the first shot of his own 10th frame to defeat Rash and become the first non-No. 1 seed to advance to the finals.
Instead, Russo left another 2-4-6-7-10 split, which he had to convert to advance.
Unfortunately, the talented two-handed southpaw only took the 4 pin from the five-count split, leaving Rash with a Midwest Regional Finals win while sitting on the bench, 207-201.
“I didn’t make a very good shot to start the match, and I didn’t throw a very good shot in the 11th (frame),” said Rash, who averaged 228.75 for 28 games to lead qualifying at the Midwest regional qualifier. “Matt bowled a phenomenal game and bowled great matches throughout the day.” Rash was able to give his father, Gene, an excellent birthday present, since Gene was on-site and able to celebrate his 73rd birthday with his son. Rash also was thinking about his family in Illinois, which recently endured a family emergency.
“A lot of emotions today,” Rash said. “It’s my dad’s 73rd birthday, and I couldn’t be prouder to have him here with me. The last time we were together, I won my 17th title in Virginia. Then, I had a scare at home with a medical emergency with my baby girl. I’m just glad she’s home, and I’m very thankful for my wife.”
Russo advanced to face Rash by dispatching PBA Tour newcomer Bailey Mavrick (235-209), 14-time PBA Tour champion EJ Tackett (223-212) and PBA standout AJ Johnson (259-219).
In the Southwest Region Finals, Quintero opened with five strikes in his first six frames and built a 48-pin lead against Barrett, despite a missed spare in the second frame. Barrett came out of the gates scuffling with two open frames during that same stretch and never quite figured out the challenging PBA Dragon (45 feet) and PBA Chameleon (39 feet) oil patterns.
With his family in the crowd, the 43-year-old right-hander, originally from Mexico, saw his dream come true by defeating Barrett, 207-179, to advance to finals of a major tournament for the first time.
“For me, it means the world,” said Quintero, who defeated Kyle Sherman in the semifinal match, 239-193. “I’m so happy. I was so nervous on the show because I wanted to do it so badly. I’m thankful for all of the support I have. I’m so, so happy right now.”
Quintero, who turned pro in 2003, has traveled all over the world competing but he recently spent several years away from the sport. He’s rededicated himself to the craft and being a professional bowler, and all of his hard work was on display Sunday evening.
“I feel really excited,” Quintero said. “Finally, during this last year, I decided to really turn into a professional bowler. I told myself, ‘If you’re going to do this, you have to do it good.’ This is the result of all my work and effort. I’m really, really happy right now.”
Before falling to Quintero in the semifinals, Sherman defeated his friend and business partner, Brad Miller of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, 213-205. Sherman and Miller together make up the successful, “Brad and Kyle” YouTube channel.
Sherman then defeated Francois Lavoie of Quebec City, Canada, 233-209.
The 10 players on Saturday’s shows were the top performers in their respective regions last weekend.
Each regional qualifier included 28 games on the two oil patterns –Chameleon and Dragon (14 games each) – and total pinfall determined who advanced.
For the televised portion of the event, both lane conditions are being used. The left lane Saturday and Sunday featured the Dragon pattern, and the right lane was Chameleon.
The PBA Players Championship Finals will air live on FS1 on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
MIDWEST REGION STEPLADDER FINALS RESULTS
Bowlero Euless – Euless, Texas
- Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., advances to PBA Players Championship Finals
- Matthew Russo, Manchester, Mo., $ 15,000
- AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., $ 13,000
- EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $ 11,000
- Bailey Mavrick, Peru, Ind., $ 10,000
Match 1 – No. 4 Russo def. No. 5 Mavrick, 235-209
Match 2 – No. 4 Russo def. No. 3 Tackett, 223-212
Match 3 – No. 4 Russo def. No. 2 Johnson, 259-219
Match 4 – No. 1 Rash def. No. 4 Russo, 207-201
SOUTHWEST REGION STEPLADDER FINALS RESULTS
Bowlero Euless – Euless, Texas
- Arturo Quintero, Plano, Texas, advances to PBA Players Championship Finals
- Dom Barrett, Great Bentley, England, $ 15,000
- Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo., $ 13,000
- Francois Lavoie, Quebec City, Canada., $ 11,000
- Brad Miller, Lee’s Summit, Mo., $ 10,000
Match 1 – No. 5 Sherman def. No. 4 Miller, 213-205
Match 2 – No. 5 Sherman def. No. 3 Lavoie, 233-209
Match 3 – No. 2 Quintero def. No. 5 Sherman, 239-193
Match 4 – No. 2 Quintero def. No. 1 Barrett, 207-179
UPCOMING PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP TELEVISION SCHEDULE
Bowlero Euless – Euless, Texas
All telecasts on FS1
January 24 at 7 p.m. ET – West Region Finals
January 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET – PBA Players Championship Finals