Lonnie Waliczek wins New Mexico Open from top seed


    United States

    2012NMOLonnieWaliczek.jpg Veteran pro bowler, Lonnie Waliczek of Wichita, Kansas, defeated former Wichita State collegian, Kristopher Prather, 206-193, to win the 9th New Mexico Open and the $8,530 top prize at Tenpins & More in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

    The two-time PBA champion was a man on a mission on the final day of the tournament, Sunday, Aug. 19. Starting the day just above the top twelve cut line, in a three-way tie at 11th, Waliczek stepped on the gas in the four-game semi-final, shooting 929 to jump in to second place behind one of America's top amateur bowlers, Robert Gotchall of Lincoln, Nebraska.

    Photo: Rich Coffel

    Showing his years of experience on the PBA Tour, Waliczek was "tradesman-like" in demolishing eight straight opponents with games of 209, 232, 216, 223, 234, 215, 212 and 279 to open up a big lead of 208 pins over local hope, Billy Grant of Rio Rancho.

    As Waliczek's scores indicate, consistent approach and ball speed, coupled with concentration on every shot was required to overpower the demanding lane condition put down by former touring pro, Mike Miller, who has developed a different condition for the tournament each of it's nine years on the wood lanes.

    Waliczek won two of his last four, going 10-2 to take the top seed position with 5,819 (including 300 bonus pins) over 25 games at an average of 220.7, to finish in front of Prather 5,614 (9-3, 213.7), Aaron Foshie of Phoenix, Arizona 5,552 (9-3, 211.2), Bryanna Caldwell of Tucson, Arizona 5,503 (6-6, 212.9) and Grant 5,393 (5-7, 209.7).

    Caldwell became the first woman to make the New Mexico Open stepladder final, while Prather and Foshie both shot 299's, one pin less than the sole perfect game rolled by Texan, George Gaucin of El Paso. Grant meanwhile hung on to keep USBC Senior Masters champion, Mike Edwards of Tulsa, Oklahoma at bay by 13 pins in spite of Edwards' closing string of strikes.

    In the opening stepladder match, Grant opened with a double and baby-split spare to take the early lead against Caldwell and was never seriously troubled to win 196-137. Caldwell received $ 1,750 that included a $300 bonus for being the highest-placed woman.

    In the next match on a different pair, Grant opened the first two frames then left a soft 10-pin in the midst of four strikes to put Foshie's 213 out of reach by 26 pins. His fourth place, worth $1,770, was the highest ever by a house bowler.

    Prather started match three with six strikes while Foshie struggled to find anything after an opening double. The Arizonan opened five frames in a row including three consecutive splits as Prather won 247-154. Foshie received $2,050 for third place.

    In the championship match, Prather opened the first frame while Waliczek plugged away with five strikes and three easy spares in the first eight frames. Prather came back with a quick turkey but missed the 4-7 in the sixth frame when he used a plastic spare ball at speed to chop the 4 off the front; advantage Waliczek.

    Waliczek could have wrapped up the title in the ninth frame with a third strike but he pulled it left to leave a 3-pin, then edged too far left on the approach and sailed by the pin by less than an inch. He and the spectators were astonished.

    To his credit, Waliczek threw a great shot in the tenth but then left a 2-pin for 206, giving Prather a chance after he had courageously struck after a ball change in his ninth frame.

    Prather took a deep breath, threw it as good as anyone possibly could, needing a double, 4-count to win, and rode the shot only to see a 7-pin stay upright, as he screamed "that's a $4,000 pin there" (about the difference between first and second place prizes).

    He finished with 193 and consolation from Waliczek who had suffered similarly in the past on the pro tour. Waliczek got $8,530 for the win while Prather took home $4,220 for second. Total purse was $41,645 based on 173 entries, second most in the tournament's history and bringing to $252,220 the total paid out since it's first running in 2004.


    9th New Mexico Open Stepladder Finals

    Tenpins & More in Rio Rancho, NM, United States (Aug. 16-19, 2012)

    Championship Round:
    1. Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., $8,530
    2. Kristopher Prather, Wichita, Kan., $4,220
    3. Aaron Foshie, Phoenix, Ariz., $2,050
    4. Billy Grant, Rio Rancho, N.M., $1,770
    5. Bryanna Caldwell, Tucson, Ariz., $1,750

    Playoff Results:
    Match 1: #5 Grant def. #4 Caldwell, 196-137
    Match 2: #3 Foshie def. Grant, 213-187
    Match 3: #2 Prather def. Foshie, 247-154
    Championship: #1 Waliczek def. Prather, 206-193

    Other Placings:
    6. Mike Edwards (Oklahoma) $1,475
    7. Robert Gotchall (Nebraska) $1,010
    8. George Gaucin (Texas) $860
    9. Josh Blanchard (Arizona) $900
    10. Mike Moyer (New Mexico) $700
    11. Frank Guccione (Colorado) $710
    12. Matt Villegas (Arizona) $690.