Pine Ridge's Larry Pearson had been a bridesmaid, figuratively speaking, three times in terms of second-place finishes in NABI Tournaments during the past 18 months when he entered the first event of the fall season Oct. 3-4.
Pearson made it all the way to the top at Tarpon Lanes, defeating Clearwater's Tim Quick 242-185 in the title match and winning $1,000 and a white championship jacket.
"I never could put anybody away before," Pearson said. "(The championship match) was close until the sixth frame. Tim let a couple of spares get by and I guess he was feeling the pressure."
Quick, a former Lecanto resident, settled for second-place money of $500.
Bowlers from Pasco County also fared well in the NABI Tournament at Tarpon Lanes. Land O'Lakes' Scott Taylor was third ($150), and New Port Richey's Les Hunter came in fourth ($125).
The win was the second for Pearson in the past three months. He picked up the $10,000 winner's share at the Style Masters 300 Bowling Classic in Tampa on July 12.
NABI expands: National Amateur Bowlers Inc. (NABI) of Florida now have a sixth club in operation.
Club No. 586, as it's designated, covers the Jacksonville-Daytona area. It recently started up, and provides bowlers on the northeast coast of the state with tournaments within an hour's drive of home.
"The Jacksonville-Daytona Club has taken off," NABI state director Bob Manker said. "Our first tournament had 137 entries."
Bowlers from the Gainesville-Ocala Club now can concentrate their efforts on the west coast of Florida as a result of the expansion, with fewer trips to Daytona or Orlando. There's a Thanksgiving weekend event in Jacksonville, and another two-club tournament there the next weekend. But a tournament in Sebring Oct. 31-Nov. 1 is the only other lengthy trip on the Fall Tour schedule.
"One big thing we try to do is have good tournaments where bowlers don't have to drive for hours to get there," Manker said. "We try to take the tournaments to the bowlers, and give them six-seven options on where to bowl in case they don't like a particular house in their area.
"We also have six champions each week, and we try to distribute the total prize money available each weekend among six areas versus one big tournament per week."
Fair Lanes in Leesburg gets the next tournament for Gainesville-Ocala Club members this weekend. Manatee Lanes is the site for the Oct. 24-25 event.
A seventh NABI club is expected to be launched at the end of the year. It will serve the Tampa-Lakeland area, Manker said.
Overly sixth at Florida Queens event: Spring Hill's Pat Overly finished sixth in the senior division (ages 50 and up) of a Florida Bowling Queens tournament Oct. 3-4 at White Sands Bowling Center in Fort Walton Beach.
Overly put together a 15-game scratch total of 2,803. Spring Hill's Judy Fought took 23rd place (2,549 pins) among the 35 bowlers in senior division.
"Scores in regular division were astronomical," Florida Bowling Queens executive director Mimi Lambert said. "The girl that won averaged 232 in the last five-game block and that's as high as I've seen in a long time. Our top eight finishers all averaged over 200."
Karen Juday of Fort Walton Beach was the champ in regular division with a score of 3,159, but two keglers from Citrus County finished near the middle of the pack in a 74-bowler field. Lori Bonanno of Homosassa Springs was 42nd with 2,750 (183 average), and Pine Ridge's Cathy Pearson came in 49th with 2,724 (181 average).
Lambert said three 279 games, one 278 game, and a 704 series was rolled during the tournament. There also were 16 games of 250 or higher.
The Florida Bowling Queens is an organization for amateur women bowlers who have a 170-plus average for at least one of the previous three seasons. Tournaments are conducted quarterly at different sites around the state, with the next event set for Dec. 5-6 at DeLand.
Competitors roll 15 scratch games at each tournament in three five-game blocks. Two blocks are rolled on Saturday, one on Sunday.
Any woman interested in joining Florida Bowling Queens may contact Lambert at (904) 243-4503.
Turnaround week off to good start: The Student Achievement Turnaround Award Program fund-raising drive is held during the second week of October at houses throughout Citrus County, and Steve Neff reports Powder Puff League bowlers contributed $71 last Thursday morning to open the drive at Steve Neff Lanes in Homosassa Springs.
"Each school nominates a student who has most turned his or her life around," Neff said. "Committees decide which student represent individual schools, so we ask our bowlers each year to help the council fund the program.
"During the second week of October league bowlers pledge a penny a pin during the second game (at Neff Lanes). We ask each league to participate, though it's voluntary."
Bowlers should check with their league representative to find out if their particular league is involved in the fund-raising effort.
King of the Hill to return: Neff also said the King of the Hill Tournament, which was run Monday nights during the summer and proved so popular, will return soon to Neff Lanes.
"I've got money for the Kings pot and 300 pot," Neff said. "We just have to figure out when to hold it. We've got a full house Monday night, but maybe we can run it on Sundays."
Details will be announced as soon as they become available.