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Regional just won't be the same

Nearly every weekend for 26 years, since the inception of the PBA Southern Region, the Harmons have packed their car and headed for bowling centers north, south and east of their Valdosta, Ga., home.

For 26 years, Walt has greeted his players like old friends _ the seasoned veterans as well as the smart, young pros _ taking their entry money, solving their scheduling problems, and enforcing PBA rules on the lanes during tournaments. Verna kept everyone loose with her bright sense of humor, and her quick fingers had their scratch sheets, schedules and final results typed in fast order.

When the southern regional tournament makes its fourth visit to Southland Lanes in Pinellas Park this weekend, the Harmons will be in Valdosta.

"Just before the Lakeland tournament last April, I started feeling real bad," Walt recalled. "A checkup showed I had congestive heart failure, water on my lungs, and one of my kidneys had stopped working two years ago. I've been running on half a tank of gas ever since."

The Harmons retired after the Lakeland event.

In recent years, Walt had scheduled more than 40 tournaments a year in Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

Southern regional director Harry O'Neale Jr. will work the tournaments with Ken Smith assisting.

Guppy Troup of Taylorsville, N.C., winner of eight regular tour stops and 22 regionals, is expected in the field of 144 pros and amateurs at Southland Lanes. They will shoot for the $3,000 winner's share starting with Saturday's qualifying rounds.

The full field won't be known until later tonight when everyone checks in. It has been almost a year to the day since Pensacola's Don Best Jr. won here.

Melbourne's Sam Zurich, winner two weeks ago in Florence, S.C., is tied with Troup with 22 regional wins. Also expected are pros Darin Hays, Shell Wilson and Anthony Pullara from Tampa, and James Campbell, John Hendry, Mark Taber, Jack Runkle and Rick Langton, among others, from Pinellas County. The amateur entries could include Darryl Dempsey, Bill Hicks and Joe Bereczki from Pinellas County.

CHAMPIONS ALL: Saga II from Ten Pin Lanes won the mixed division of the 10th annual Champion of Champions tournament at Ten Pin Lanes June 23. The tournament pitted league champions from nine Pinellas County centers.

Tod Jansen led Saga II with a 670 series, followed by Jeff Williams with a 603. Allan Anderson (591), Don Avery (556) and Jerome Fussell (483) contributed to the team's 3,398 winning pinfall. Just Five from Skyway Lanes finished second at 3,317, and Piece of Cake, also from Skyway, finished third at 3,300.

Yahoo's from Ten Pin won the women's division with a 3,175 total. Cris Siskin, Sharon Pritchard, Joanne Sahner, Pat Dreifort and Karen Sella made up the squad. Nail Room from Ten Pin was second at 3,135, and Florida Women's Senior Stars were third at 3,111.

Liberty Lanes' Tech Force captured the men's title with a 3,332 pinfall. Vince Meiste, Donnie Bowers, Lou Campos, Warren Bartlett and Mike Sheared were the team. Bowler's Warehouse from Twedt's Lanes was second at 3,243, and Backtrack from Ten Pin finished third at 3,227.

GRAHAM BENEFIT SET: The bowling benefit for Robby Graham, 4, is Saturday at Liberty Lanes. He was diagnosed with cancer several weeks ago and is undergoing treatments at All Children's Hospital, Duke University and the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. He is the son of Rick and Leslie Graham of Seminole. Rick is a captain in the Lealman Fire Department. Entry fee is $5.

OZACK A WINNER: Clearwater's John Ozack won the NABI tournament and $500 Sunday at Rainbow Lanes. Clearwater's Stacey Sharkey was second and Pinellas Park's Johnnie Johns third.

AROUND THE LANES: Glenn Jeffers rolled a 300-758 at Ten Pin Lanes. The Style Master 300 tournament is at Tampa's Crown Lanes this weekend with a $19 entry fee and $1,000 prize.