To Lonnie Waliczek, a 17-year PBA member and 2005 winner of the Wichita Open, Sundays title at the PBA Regional tournament meant very little in terms of his professional life.
But every time he turned around and saw his 10-year-old son, Benjamin, the father in Waliczek wanted the title more than ever.
Waliczek made his son proud, rolling nearly a flawless first eight frames in the championship match to flatten Sean Rash in a 268-225 victory, which in turn made him one proud dad on Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Lanes.
It meant a lot to him, so it meant a lot to me, Waliczek said. That makes me feel good.
When Waliczek was at his peak, he was traveling across the nation on the PBA Tour and his family was unable to see him bowl much. Even when they did, his son was too young to comprehend his fathers accomplishments.
Thats what made Sunday so special for Waliczek, who earned the No. 2 seed in the bracket play after 13 games of qualifying.
Trust me, I have not pushed bowling on him at all, Waliczek said. But hes starting to get into it. He knows whats going on, and he knows when Im throwing it good and throwing it bad. Its kind of fun to have him watching.
After dispatching defending champion Nathan Bohr in the semifinals, 234-226, Waliczek was matched with Rash for a compelling final.
Waliczek, a 1993 Wichita State graduate, has bounced on and off of the PBA Tour, while Rash, a 2003 WSU alumni, has gone on to become the face of the PBA Tour, winning the 2012 Player of the Year award and starring in ESPN commercials.
Both bowlers were solid through seven frames, but in the one-game, winner-take-all format, it came down to who made the first mistake. While Waliczek strung together seven consecutive strikes, Rash left his eighth frame open effectively ending his chance to win.
Ive been working on a few things technically to get my ball to do the right things when Im on the big tour, Waliczek said. So it was nice to be able to practice it out here.
Waliczek is the fourth straight former Shocker to win the Wichita Southwest-Midwest Open.
I pretty much took it in the pants there at the end of the game, Rash said. Its always nice to see a Wichita State alum win this event ... it just would have been nice if it was me.
While Rash has gained some sort of celebrity and champion status on the national tour, Waliczek had all he needed on Sunday - his family seated behind him, cheering him on.
And most importantly, he had the adoration of his son, which was more than enough for him.
It makes it fun, Waliczek said. This one is definitely special.
PBA Wichita Open
At Thunderbird Lanes
Round of 16(9) Rick Steelsmith, Wichita, def. (16) Kevin Tatrow, Bel Aire, 172-231, 211-206, 226-210; (13) Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, def. (12) Dylan Woods, Lawrenceburg, Ten., 163-212, 254-193, 256-180; (10) Mike Edwards, Tulsa, def. (15) Robert Harvey, Boise, Idaho, 172-188, 191-157, 201-170; (11) Sean Swanson, Springfield, Mo., def. (14) Austin Boulds, Wichita, 225-154, 195-192. Round of 12(9) Steelsmith def. (8) Cory Simmons, Wichita, 209-205, 241-216; (13) Barnes def. (5) David Williams, Omaha, Neb., 175-205, 234-200, 222-192; (10) Edwards def. (7) Miguel Lopez, Wichita, 218-194, 209-192; (11) Swanson def. (6) Kris Prather, Milton, Fla., 289-227, 205-183. Quarterfinals(1) Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., def. (9) Steelsmith, 222-200, 159-183, 243-215; (4) Roger Petrin, Bel Aire, def. (13) Barnes, 214-192, 233-136, 222-203; (2) Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, def. (10) Edwards, 201-200, 167-207, 235-174; (3) Nathan Bohr, Wichita, def. (11) Swanson 257-210, 234-222. Semifinals(1) Rash def. (4) Petrin, 202-192; (2) Waliczek def. (3) Bohr, 234-226. Finals(2) Waliczek def. (1) Rash, 268-225.