|'King of the Hill' Mike Walls|
On Sunday, October 11, Lincoln Way Lanes in Chambersburg, PA hosted one of the increasingly popular "King of the Hill" tournaments, pitting some of Pennsylvania's premiere tenpin bowlers in a competitive, one-day open event. At the conclusion of the tourney, a new young superstar came to the forefront in the sport of bowling, as Saint Thomas, PA's, Mike Walls laid claim to the 2009 'King of the Hill' title. A multitude of bowlers were on hand, competing in a 6-game pinfall block to establish a stepladder for the finals. Walls settled himself onto the bottom rung of the stepladder, the 5th seed position, with a 1301 pinfall total, averaging a 'not-too-shabby' 216 clip, while tournament leader, Gettysburg, PA's Adam Baer was comfortably at the top of the ladder with a sensational 1502 pinfall aggregation, which calculates to an average of a whopping 250 for the 6 games.
As the stepladder finals got underway, Walls started fast in his opening match against one of the more effective 'wrong-foot' bowlers in the bowling game, Joey Washabaugh, who was seeded 4th with a 1323 block total. As the match wore on, Mike continued to bowl steady as Joey met with a couple of splits in the early to middle stages of the game, and Walls finished with a 234-182 victory.
Next up for Walls was 3rd seeded, Bobby Carter, who had gained access to the stepladder with a stellar 1331 score. The story of Match #2 was similar to that of the previous encounter, with Mike gaining the early edge and not letting up, this time winning 215-189.
With the stepladder finals now halfway completed, Walls' performance to this point seemed like one of a seasoned veteran, in spite of the fact that this was the 28-year old's first ever stepladder appearance. The 2nd seed, Tony Davenport, who amassed a superb 1401 qualifying total, was now ready to face his primed opponent. Again, Mike jumped out to an early lead, opening the match with a double-header, while Tony struck and opened in his first 2 frames. Davenport soon got it going, but could never catch a double-header. Walls' confidence was up at this point, as he pitched a 4-bagger in the middle part of the game, which allowed Mike to roll to a 247-185 victory.
With 3 wins under his belt, Walls couldn't have been any more ready to face the top seed, Adam Baer. Baer is a true veteran in championship matches, as he's the holder of several regional bowling titles. In Baer's dominating 1502 qualifying block earlier in the day, his games all ranged from 232 to 268. Adam started the title match with a crushing double-header, and had the early advantage, as Walls began by being tapped by a solid 9 pin in the first frame, which he subsequently picked up for a spare. Things seemed pretty tame at this point, and Baer seemed to have the early momentum, but little did anyone foresee, a drastic and 'near-perfect' scenario was about to unfold for Walls. The match continued, exceedingly well rolled by both individuals, and by game's end, the top seed Baer had pasted the 1-3 pocket a total of 12 out of 12 times, striking on 9 pitches, but leaving two '4 pin' single pins and one '10 pin' along the way for an impressive 238 game. However, it was Walls who was the talk of the tournament, matching Baer's 12 for 12 mastery of the 1-3 pocket, and after nailing the 9 pin in frame #1, Mike 'took it off the sheet', striking the rest of the way for a tremendous 290 effort to capture the "King of the Hill" championship.
For Baer, it's a matter of chalking it up to the fact that he bowled superbly all day, but just didn't win. For Walls, a near perfect effort in the title game was a fitting way to cap off a brilliant debut in the stepladder finals.
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