The more Dave Bernhardt is around bowling, the more he learns there is no sure thing.
A month ago in Indianapolis, Bernhardt felt his Turbo 2-N-1 Grips team was miles above the competition, but they finished third in the Brunswick World Team Challenge qualifier.
At Thruway Lanes on Sunday, the Turbos failed to mark in the 10th frame in either game of the final match, yet they won the regional event by 12 pins and qualified for the Grand Championship in Reno, Nev., in July.
"We've been in the (regional) finals five times (in three years)," Bernhardt said. "We bowled great in Indianapolis. We outbowled everybody but we were out-Brooklyned (strikes on cross-over hits).
The Turbos were fifth in last year's national final. They led after Saturday's six-game qualifier and held first place through all of Sunday's nine-game round of Baker System Scoring (each player bowls two frames: first and sixth, second and seventh, etc.) to earn the top seed in the three-team (taped TV) finals.
The Columbia Cuda C's of Katona finished second and Allie Brandt Lanes of Lockport was third.
In the two-game total pins title match against Columbia, the Turbos led by 23 pins through eight frames but opened in the ninth and 10th and finished in a 192-192 tie. The second game was a struggle for both teams, but the Turbos caught a break in the ninth frame when PBA Senior star Gene Stus tripped out the 1-pin and 2-pin from what appeared to be a 1-2-4 leave, then he spared by just grazing the 4-pin and got it to fall.
"It's no excuse but I stiffen up (in a long day of bowling)," said the 53 year-old Stus who has won five Senior Tour titles. "I was a little tentative on the first shot and lost the ball. On the second shot I was too careful and almost threw it away."
PBA regional player Ted Hannahs, the anchor for the Turbos, then gave Columbia an opening by chopping the 6-pin after leaving the 3-6-9.
Hannahs, 36, said "shock" would be an understatement to describe his 6-pin chop. "I executed the way I wanted to," the winner of three national and 11 regional PBA titles said. "To chop from that angle is not an easy thing to do. I made that shot (Saturday) when I should have missed it but I thought this one was flush."
It was only after Columbia anchor Chris Vitale, needing a double in the 10th, left a 3-10 split, that the Turbos were home free in a 161-149 victory for a 353-341 final margin.
"We had this one coming," Stus said, also reflecting the Turbos' Indianapolis experience.
"It's hard to figure," said Bernhardt, the 48-year-old president of Chesterfield, Mich.-based Turbo Grips. "We gave (Columbia) a break and they gave it back to us."
The Allie Brandts made a tremendous charge in the round robin from eighth place to qualify third. The Lockport team rolled 478 and 424 in the last two games of match play to knock Jim Mee's Pro Shop of Jamestown out of the last qualifying berth to fourth place.
In the opening of the Baker finals against Columbia, Brandt won the first game, 222-203, and John Meczynski's double after Pat Healey Jr.'s strike made things look promising. But three straight splits by Bob Foss Jr., captain Carl Kinyon and Ron Sutton were disastrous in a 191-168 loss and 394-390 margin that sent Columbia to the title match.
"We just did not throw good shots," Kinyon said of the splits. "We got our feet moving too quickly. When John struck we thought it was over." Three frames later it was, but just like Bernhardt, not the way he thought it was going to be.
First place from the $17,400 prize fund was worth $2,415 to the winning team, which also included 40-year old Steve Fehr, an ABC Hall of Famer, and 23-year old Mark Moore, who substituted Sunday for PBA Tour regular Bob Learn Jr., who had a prior commitment.
The prize package also included five Brunswick balls, five pairs of Lind Shoes, five championship rings, a sponsor's award, airfare, lodging at the Reno finals and, more importantly, a shot at the projected $150,000 prize fund.