Watts snags singles’ berth at nationals

Lucas Punkari

A couple of days after qualifying for next month’s Open national bowling championships in Gatineau, Que., the excitement for local bowler Jeff Watts was still easy to see.
“This feels pretty good right now,” the 23-year-old enthused.
“I’ve been to a couple of nationals before, but this will be my first time at the Open singles event so that should be pretty exciting,” he added.
Watts earned his trip to the nationals by capturing in the men’s singles competition Saturday afternoon at the provincial roll-offs in Thunder Bay, defeating Rene Godin (Cambrian North) 270-260 in the gold-medal final.
He qualified for the final after finishing in first place during the 10-game preliminary roll-off on Wednesday, where he averaged 268.4 and had a high game of 315.
“I went into the event thinking that I could win, and everything pretty much went how I expected it to go,” Watts explained.
“I found that I bowled very consistently throughout the whole tournament,” he noted. “But I would have liked to have bowled some more 300 games as I only had two, which was low for me.
“I had a lot of other high games, though, which helped a lot of with my overall score,” he added.
“And I didn’t really throw any bad games, so that helped a lot with my performance.”
Watts also earned two other medals over the weekend in leading the Sunset Country contingent to a third-place finish in the aggregate standings.
He was a member of the men’s team that earned a silver medal after losing twice to Thunder Bay in the stepladder final on Saturday, and also was named an all-star after averaging a combined score of 257.6 in both singles and team play.
“Those losses in the final to Thunder Bay were both pretty tough ones,” Watts sighed.
“I actually bowled a little bit of a higher average score in the singles games as opposed to what I did in the team play, but overall I thought I was
consistent in both events throughout the weekend,” he added.
The men’s team also included Kevin Blake (Kenora), Chris Gadd (Dryden), Jeff Hazlewood (Dryden), Roger Peterson (Dryden), and Darryl Rollins (Dryden). Their coach was Arnie Rollins (Dryden).
With only a couple of “fun tournaments” in Kenora and a year-end wrap-up event here on the horizon, Watts’ next big event will be the national roll-offs, which will take place May 28-June 2 in Gatineau (across the river from Ottawa).
“That event is going to be pretty hectic,” Watts noted.
“We leave here on the Monday and have opening ceremonies the next day, followed by 10 games from Wednesday to Friday—and that’s even before we have the stepladder on Saturday if I’m able to qualify for that,” he explained.
“Before I go there, the main thing that I’ll be doing is just practising basically as I’ll be throwing a lot of games when I’m at the nationals and I want to make sure that I don’t get too rusty beforehand.”
Times’ editor Mike Behan, the other Fort Frances bowler competing at the provincial roll-offs, returned home with a bronze medal as a member of the Sunset Country mixed team.
He averaged just under 213 in his first trip to the Open, with his high game being a 310.
After finishing in fourth place following the 15-game round-robin, Sunset Country upset Cambrian North in a thrilling 3 versus 4 stepladder showdown Saturday morning.
But the squad then fell to second-place Gold Belt to dash their title hopes and a trip to the nationals.
Rounding out the mixed team were Jackie Miner (Dryden), Jessica Mymryk (Kenora), Chris Rollins (Dryden), Cheryl Stefanik (Kenora), and Vernon Tattrie (Atikokan).
They were coached by Bill Luchka (Dryden).
Finally, the Sunset Country women’s team finished in fourth place after they were knocked out of further contention by Gold Belt in their 3 versus 4 stepladder match Saturday morning.
The team included Terry Delaronde (Dryden), Terri Hamilton (Dryden), Pauline Kressal (Dryden), Shelley Petsnick (Dryden), Eleanor Rumpel (Kenora), and Tammy Woitowicz (Dryden).
They were coached by John MacDougall (Kenora).
The host contingent from Thunder Bay took the aggregate title over Cambrian North (Sudbury), with Gold Belt (Timmins) finishing in fourth place behind Sunset Country.
Nickel District (Sudbury) and Gateway (North Bay) rounded out the six-zone field.