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Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Pro bowlers coming to Coldwater

By Gary R. Rasberry
Some of the top stars of the Professional Bowlers Association will make a trek to Coldwater next week.
Pla-Mor Lanes will host a PBA Central Region tournament - The Lefeld Implement Classic - on August 16 and 17 with events getting underway on Aug. 13 with a golf outing benefiting the West Ohio High School Bowling Conference Scholarship Fund, followed by pro-ams and other bowling events on Thursday and Friday.
Up to 96 bowlers will take part in the tournament, with the winner receiving a check for $4,000, one of the highest totals on the regional tour.
Pla-Mor co-owner Rick Hartings is happy the PBA has given Coldwater a chance to host a tournament.
"For the size of town we are, 4,800 people and a 16-lane bowling center, it's unheard of to hold a regional event," said Hartings.
Not only will some of the top regional bowlers travel in to compete, a number of exempt players - the top 64 pros nationally - will travel. Second-generation star Pete Weber, former PBA Player of the Year Doug Kent and Mike Machuga will be among the national exempt players coming in for the festivities before getting down to business on Saturday when qualifying begins.
"I told Bob Johnson of Bowler's Journal Magazine that we're very fortunate to know the best bowlers in the world by their first names and have contact with them," said Hartings. "To bring them to Coldwater to let our public and surrounding area watch them firsthand, some people never will.
"That will be the neat thing (having the bowlers in Coldwater). We'll make some friends that way and to get them to see our place. It will be very special to have them here."
The inspiration for this year's event occurred last year as a number of pros came up to Coldwater for a golf outing and doubles bowling event to benefit the WOHSBC scholarship fund before heading to a PBA event in Taylor, Michigan.
"The whole purpose was the scholarship (fund)," said Hartings, who serves as Coldwater's high school bowling coach. "When we brought in these guys for the scholarship outing, we tacked on the Thursday bowling."
When Columbus received a PBA National tournament event, a regional tournament date opened up. Initially reluctant to try and put together a PBA-sanctioned event, Hartings was encouraged by friend and PBA pro Brian Kretzer to put on the event. Kretzer, from Dayton, is one of the hosts for this year's tournament.
"Brian had to convince us to do it," said Hartings about bidding for the regional tournament. "We didn't think we were big enough a town, but I give a lot of credit to the local businesses that are sponsoring the tournament (over 80 local businesses are sponsoring the event)."
Hartings admits it's been a lot of work to get the event off the ground, including ensuring hotel accommodations for the bowlers before signing the contract to host the event.
"It's probably more work than we expected," said Hartings. "My wife, Patty, and Dad (Pla-Mor co-owner Linus "Liny" Hartings) sold the sponsorships. Once we got done with that, we got the banners and advertisements in line. Been a lot of work, as much as the golf outing (in) getting everyone lined up and the teams. The owner of Roto Grip (bowling balls), Hank Boomershine, is flying in from Utah to the event. Turbo Grips' owner Lori Tessmar is coming in from Michigan. It's been a lot of work, even though I think we have a lot of work ahead of us."
In addition to the pros, several local amateurs will compete, including Gary Cisco and Jeff Schott, both of Celina and Bruce Bollenbacher of Rockford, who works part-time at Pla-Mor.
In addition to the golf outing on the 13th and the doubles tournament the 14th, other events included on the docket include pro-am tournaments for both younger players and adult players on Friday, followed by three shifts of qualifying on Saturday. On Sunday, the round-robin begins at 10 a.m. before championship round play gets underway at 2:30 p.m. The awards presentation is slated for 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is free for every event, with a hog roast being held outside on Saturday all day starting at noon.
"We're hoping the local sponsors and the public come out to watch the best bowlers in the world," said Hartings. "It's been a lot of work, but it's been fun."
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