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Day 2: PBA Shawnee Classic

February 16, 2023 - Today was the second day of qualifying. We have 8 additional games before the cut to the top 12. I was on A squad this week which means I bowled in the morning day one and evening on the second day. Since my squad bowled second today, I was able to see that even with a good start day one, I would need a much higher score day two.

I really liked my lane play plan for day one, but after talking with Dino, I knew I needed to make some changes for day two. He mentioned to me the strategy I was using was making the lanes more inconsistent game-to-game. He suggested instead of using a bowling ball with a solid coverstock, I take a ball with a pearl coverstock and add 1000 grit abrasive to it. He felt this would allow my release to be more up the back of the bowling ball instead of using more side rotation at release. Based on the our conversation, the ball we settled on drilling was the Hammer Black Widow Ghost. You may have heard me mention this ball a lot in the first few weeks on tour and that is because, honestly, on the tougher sport patterns, especially on the PBA tour Patterns, the Ghost has been so versatile and tends to always be a must-have ball in my bag. I felt really good going into the second day. It was really refreshing having about 28 hours off between squads. When I got to the bowl, I felt really confident, excited to bowl, and ready to go!

Day two, I was still crossing with the same guys as day 1, Keven Williams and Joe Grondin. Joe and I both being right handed, decided again that we would try and break the pattern down (throw very sanded bowing balls) in the 8 minutes of practice to the right, about the 8th board, of where we wanted to bowl once the tournament started. It seemed to work well the first day, so we felt it made sense to try it again. After the 8 minutes of practice, I liked how the lanes were playing with my new Ghost. I was a bit nervous because I didn’t feel like I had much miss room left but I really believed in my game plan and was ready to go.

Game one, I was able to execute some really good shots and really seemed to strike every time I hit the 1-3 pocket. I ended up striking 8 times game one but I left 3 big splits on the shots I didn’t strike and ended the game with 210. Going into game two, I wanted to stay patient and trust my game plan, as always... stay patient Jake. I knew the miss room on the left I wanted was going to develop but I had to relax and let it happen. As the game went on, I felt more and more confident in my ball reaction and ended up hitting the pocket all but one frame and I ended bowling a 215 clean game.

Going into game three, I really felt good about how I was attacking the lanes. I decided I needed to make an adjustment to get the ball to enter the 1-3 pocket differently to try and get the 10 pin and 7 pin to fall more consistently. I decided to move a couple boards left of where I was and lower my speed by about .5 MPH. This gave the ball more time to hook higher into the pocket and seemed to cure my bad carry I was having before. I ended up bowing 235 game three and felt like I was trending the right direction.

Sometimes when you are feeling the best bowling can be a bit cruel. In game four, I left two pocket splits on what I felt were very good shots and I ultimately only bowled 186. This was my first real defining moment of the week. I am running out of time to be able to bowl well enough to make the cut, but I told myself going into the week no matter what, I am sticking to the process of patience and shot making. So before game five, I took a deep breath and found my rep, Dino, and asked what I could try. He recommended that I needed to try a different bowling ball that had a symmetrical core, Columbia 300 Cuda, instead of my asymmetrical that I was currently using, BW Ghost.

I thought it was a great idea so I got my Cuda and it hooked more down lane than my Ghost did. So this cured the under hook I was having with my Black Widow Ghost. Let the games begin...

I ended up bowling 220 game five and a 215 game six. Again, at the end of game seven, just like in game four, the oil kept feeling slicker and slicker right of where I was aiming and I felt like every time I was a little fast with my feet or missed a bit right my ball always under hooked.

Going into game seven I knew I needed two big games to have a chance at the top 12 cut. I told Mike Wolfe the concerns I was having now with my ball reaction. He felt the Radical Big Foot Hybrid would be perfect at this point in the day. I switched to his recommendation in frame one of game seven. The ball over hooked the first frame and I made an adjustment with my feet for frame two and I ended up striking the next ten times for 278. This was just the game I needed right then!!

Game eight, I new I needed one more good game. The pair of lanes we moved to had been said to be hooking less than every other pair. I was told the pair always hooks a little less over all and guys also threw urethane on the pair earlier in the day and moved the oil even further down lane where it felt like there was almost no hook on the lanes.

I started the game coming in light for the first 5 frames. I made a more aggressive adjustment each of those frames. I would move my feet to the right, and more hand in the ball to make it hook, slow down. Nothing seemed to work until in the sixth frame when I did all of those things including getting the ball further to the right. This allowed it to miss all that carry down in the middle part of the lane and my ball finally hooked perfectly into the pocket for a strike. I doubled in frames six and seven and before frame eight, I caught the standings and realized I was 21st (they are paying 22 spots) and instantly I had some nerves come. This could either be a blessing or a curse. Do I keep it on my mind and fail or do I grind and make moves?

I knew I was still a long way from the next cut, but it was so crazy to see I had climbed back from 41st into a cashing spot. I had to take a deep breath and I actually got really calm and happy because it felt really great to throw shots that really mattered.... Bingo. I was able to use the little extra nerves as a way focus and I made 5 really good shots and actually struck out to bowl 233 and secure a cash spot.

Ultimately, I finished 18th. It’s not the overall result I want and I know I have a lot of things to clean up to get back in the winners circle, but it feels really great to be back on track. Especially with how big of a disaster week two was for me!

This week I stayed true to my game plan and it was all about staying patient and making smart adjustments. I am super proud of my mindset and performance this week! It’s crazy how much easier it is to make good shots and bowl consistently when you let things happen as opposed to trying to make them happen! For the day I gave myself a B+ and for the week a B. I could have made smarter adjustments and I definitely need to make more consistent shots through out the day. However, I feel I am really close to where I want to be and believe this week can be a huge building block for the rest of the season.

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