Returning to Wichita has always been a time for Sean Rash to recall his glory days at Wichita State, where he was a two-time All-American in bowling.
But it also brings back memories that still haunt Rash. After claiming four titles in his four televised appearances on the PBA Tour, that streak was halted in Wichita in 2008 at the World Championship. Since then, he hasn't won on television.
There were no ESPN cameras around on Sunday afternoon, but Rash buried that bad memory a little deeper by winning the Midwest-Southwest Region Wichita Open at Thunderbird Lanes.
Rash defeated fellow WSU graduate Chris Drewes 225-190 in the finals to collect his second Wichita Open title.
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"Since I lost (in 2008), I've had a lot of struggles," Rash said. "I've been able to win a couple of Regionals here and there, but to come back to Wichita and win this one for a second time means the world."
A title run almost wasn't an option for Rash, who entered the day sixth in qualifying. But after five additional games Sunday morning, Rash breathed a sigh of relief when he was locked in as the 16th and final seed.
"Game one on the day I bowled a 148, which was kind of a blow to the confidence," Rash said. "That's not what you want to come out and do, but in these formats where they're best-of-five and best-of-three it doesn't matter where you qualify."
A different Rash came back from the break after qualifying. His confidence was renewed and only grew after he knocked out defending champion and fellow PBA bowler Chris Barnes in the first round.
"I basically rode the confidence from that game through the rest of the day," Rash said.
On the other side of the bracket, another former WSU bowler was eliciting cheers from the crowd in Jay Futrell. The Derby native rolled a 300 game _ the only one of the weekend _ in his first-round win over Tyler Jensen.
But Futrell was brought down by Drewes in the semifinals, 204-184. Drewes won three elimination games in his first two wins of the day over George Lambert IV and Pete Weber.
Rash ousted Mike Bailey in the other semifinal, 236-202.
In the championship match, both bowlers struggled adjusting to the pair of lanes. The first open frame would prove to be fatal, which Drewes did in the sixth. Faced with a two-seven split, he was unable to convert.
"It just played a little bit tighter than the rest of them that I had seen all day," Drewes said. "It's hard for me to get my ball to hook on those lanes."
Rash took advantage and closed the game out on a solid score of 225.
"After that sixth frame, I felt I was in control of the match," Rash said. "Chris is a great player and he's a good friend. It's one of those things where I just took advantage of an opportunity he gave me. He's a good player, though. His day will come."
At Thunderbird Lanes
Round of 16—#16 Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., def. #1 Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 3-0 (265-239, 269-191, 223-213); #9 Cory Simmons, Wichita, Kan., def. #8 Andrew Koff, Miami, Fla., 3-1 (232-205, 179-166, 181-245, 228-216); #12 Kurt Gengelbach, Carrollton, Texas, def. #5 Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 3-0 (200-181, 201-188, 185-169); #4 Mike Bailey, Frisco, Texas, def. #13 Blake Demore, Springfield, Mo., 3-1 (188-201, 229-157, 181-163, 279-216); #11 Kevin Andes, Somerset, Mass., def. #6 Dan Umscheid, Wichita, Kan., 3-1 (199-160, 185-180, 172-200, 218-212); #3 Jay Futrell, Derby, Kan., def. #14 Tyler Jensen, Fort Worth, Texas, 3-0 (256-197, 300-190, 258-208); #7 Chris Drewes, Wichita, Kan., def. #10 George Lambert IV, Canada, 3-2 (199-193, 187-212, 185-196, 234-198, 222-199); #2 Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., def. #15 Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 3-2 (213-164, 195-169, 181-235, 215-280, 241-225).
Quarterfinals—#16 Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., def. #9 Cory Simmons, Wichita, Kan., 2-0 (222-183, 220-194); #4 Mike Bailey, Frisco, Texas, def. #12 Kurt Gengelbach, Carrollton, Texas, 2-0 (217-209, 225-180); #3 Jay Futrell, Derby, Kan., def. #11 Kevin Andes, Somerset, Mass., 2-1 (232-178, 171-181, 257-198); #7 Chris Drewes, Wichita, Kan., def. #2 Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 2-1 (198-177, 175-188, 232-180).
Semifinals—#16 Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., def. #4 Mike Bailey, Frisco, Texas, 236-202; #7 Chris Drewes, Wichita, Kan., def. Jay Futrell, Derby, Kan., 204-184.
Finals—#16 Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., def. #7 Chris Drewes, Wichita, Kan., 225-190.