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David Walsh: Fite becomes first 3-time Harrell Memorial champion

Nov. 17, 2012 @ 11:00 PM

Brian Fite used an unusual scoring pattern to his advantage in winning the 22nd annual Harrell Memorial Match Games title last weekend at Colonial Lanes.

Fite entered the handicap tournament with a 241 average, making him one of just four scratch competitors in the field of 25. Fite posted a big number in the opening game and that served as the catalyst to leading the four-game qualifier Saturday and winning four matches Sunday to become the event's first three-time champion.

"You need that. The pin carry was better in the first game," Fite said. "The pattern changed and my second games were mediocre."

Fite shot 246 in the first game in qualifying and followed with 269, 220 and 225 to lead with 960. Chip Gue was second with 932.

In match play, Fite had to spot Randy Wilson 26 pins in the first match, Dale Morrison 24 in the second and Ryan Bleyle 44 in the third. Fite started with 267 in the match against Wilson and won, 492-455. He opened with 258 against Morrison and went on to win, 462-374. Moving to different pairs between games didn't bother Fite who shot 245 in game one against Bleyle en route to a 460-436 victory.

That set up a final between Fite and Jesse Wolowinski, another of the scratch bowlers. Fite fired 268 in the opening game to lead by 54 pins. A 246 in the finale gave him a 514-414 victory.

"You put pressure on the other guy," Fite said of the quality starts in all five sessions. "I tried to make up what I could in the first game, cut into the deficit the best I could. You go frame by frame."

Before Sunday, Fite and John Howard shared the lead in the Harrell victory column with two each. Howard won in 1996 and 2007. Fite's wins came in 2000 and 2009.

"It means a lot to be the first three-time winner," Fite said. "This is a tough tournament."

One of the best first-round matches was Justin Adkins against Dave Roberts. Adkins had to spot Roberts 26 pins, but made a big move with a 243 in game one to 222 for Roberts. In a high-scoring game two, Adkins fired a 257 to 249 for Roberts and won, 508-505.

Since 1989 when the tournament began, there have been four female champions. The 2012 field had just two females, 2008 winner Dawn Turner, who also served as tournament director, and Lori Henson.

The one downside to the tournament was entry total. Henry Harrell did a lot for bowling in Huntington and around the country. He was a charter member in the USBC West Virginia Hall of Fame and Huntington Bowling Association (now Huntington USBC) Hall of Fame. He's a past president and secretary of the Huntington Bowling Association. Harrell and the tournament that features his name deserve better.

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: In-house tournament season at Colonial concludes Sunday for the scratch division and Dec. 2 for the handicap division.

The WTBA London oil pattern will be used for the scratch TofC. Bowling starts at 2 p.m. After qualifying, the eliminator finals will be used for the championship round. Entry fee is $40 and first prize is $300 (guaranteed). The handicap TofC will start at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2. Qualifiers for both events are listed at www.coloniallaneswv.com. One bowler who's in both tournaments is -- you guessed it -- Brian Fite.

FINAL WEEKEND: The 57th Kentucky State Handicap Tournament wrapped up this weekend in Louisville. Kingpin Lanes had singles and doubles and Fern Valley Strike & Spare had team event.

HUNTINGTON USBC: Entry forms for the fifth Huntington USBC Championships are available at Strike Zone and Colonial Lanes. The tournament scheduled Jan. 26-27 and Feb. 2-3. Singles and doubles are Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 at Colonial Lanes. Team event is Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 at Strike Zone. Shifts begins at 1 p.m. Entry deadline is Jan. 23. Entry fee is $20 per event and $3 more for all-events.

David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or dwalsh@herald-dispatch.com.