Professional bowlers will be returning to Wapakoneta this summer, and the local bowling proprietor says he could not be happier for the community.
Astro Lanes bowling alley owner Denny Borgert received word this week from officials with the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) that Wapakoneta has been chosen for the second consecutive year to host a regional event. The tournament is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7, through Sunday, Sept. 9.
“Last year, we held our first regional event and it went very well, — far exceeded expectations,” Borgert said. “This week we were again contacted by professional bowler’s tour officials about hosting an event and, of course, we accepted.
“I knew last year was going to be a huge undertaking and I told myself if the first event turns out this way then I would be extremely happy,” he said, “and it was 10 times better than what I thought.”
With news of Borgert’s acceptance, last year’s title sponsor, G.A. Wintzer & Son, jumped on board to serve for the second consecutive year as the title sponsor for G.A. Wintzer & Son Classic.
“In order for this to be successful, we need the community behind us and we are hoping again this year, as it was last year, that we receive the financial support of area businesses because that is the only way to generate the income to bring the bowlers here,” Borgert said, noting the city hosted nearly 75 bowlers last year and he looks for that number to climb this year.
“I also want to thank the businesses and Joyce and I, personally, want to thank the groups and people who helped and volunteered last year because that was huge,” the former Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award winner said. “The people in Wapakoneta really came out and supported us. It was so well received that the bowlers commented about how nice it was to have a large crowd watching them compete.”
The Borgerts shared that the 2011 winner of the tournament at Astro Lanes, Chris Loschetter, commented when he received his trophy that “this was unbelievable to see so many people come and watch them bowl on Sunday and all weekend.”
Borgert said it was one of the main reasons the PBA wanted the regional event held in Wapakoneta again. To accommodate the crowd, the Borgerts brought in bleachers for the three-day event.
Borgert explained how the three-day event unfolds — a Pro Am event is held Friday where anybody can participate in the event. People can even bowl with some of the professionals.
Saturday is the qualifying for each bowler bowling eight games and then the top 16 come back on Sunday for match play. Then on Sunday the top four bowlers face off head-to-head and a winner is crowned.
“Last year we had one of the strongest fields for a regional event,” Borgert said. “We had the ‘Player of the Year’ last year, Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi, on the national tour and he bowled here. We hope he comes back.”
Koivuniemi, who won the richest first prize in PBA history and became the first player ever to reach the television finals in all four PBA major championships in a single season, earned the 2010-11 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year.
Wapakoneta bowler Todd Book also is expected to bowl in this year’s event.
The Borgerts will not know which bowlers are competing in the event until they receive a preliminary list on the Tuesday (Sept. 4) before the event, but bowlers can sign up to compete until that Friday (Sept. 7).
To get ready for this year’s event, the Borgerts have a meeting planned for 7:30 p.m. May 29 for anyone who is willing to help the Borgerts and the city with the event.
Events associated with the regional PBA tournament benefited the Auglaize County Special Olympics, which received approximately $7,500 in proceeds from those events.
The Borgerts said Turner Tents brought a large tent for a chicken dinner sale and other events throughout the event, but the list of volunteers helping them was long.
Even Mayor Rodney Metz and Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dan Graf got involved — rolling out the first ball with the loser having to wash the windows of their office.
For the Borgerts, the return call proved to be special.
“Being called again means that we did it right the first time — I look at this as an honor,” said Borgert, whose life-long dream was to host a PBA event. “We are not doing it for ourselves, we are doing this for the entire community.”