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Local bowler falls short at national Open

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Fort Frances resident Jeff Watts fell short in his bid to win a medal at the Canadian Open championships held last week in Gatineau, Que.

Representing Northern Ontario in the men's singles competition, the Sunset Country bowler missed advancing to Saturday's “stepladder” playoff round by a mere 55 pins following the 21-game preliminary round held over three shifts from Wednesday to Friday.

Watts was clinging to the fifth-and-final “stepladder” berth heading into the second-last game of the last seven-game shift Friday night but managed only a 197 (his lowest score of the tournament) while Quebec's Frédéric Martin rolled a 325 to take over fifth place.

Martin then closed with a 279 to finish with a 5,498 total (261.8 average) while Watts had a 275 to wind up in sixth place overall at 5,443 (259.2 average).

Fred Tofflemire of Nova Scotia finished in top spot in the 11-bowler preliminary round with a 5,972 total (284.4 average).

He was followed by Danny Baer of Saskatchewan (5,731), Michael Maloney of Newfoundland/Labrador (5,673), and Adam Weber of Alberta (5,612).

Weber wound up winning all of his “stepladder” matches on Saturday, including two over Tofflemire in the final by scores of 279-236 and 268-262, to capture the gold medal.

Tofflemire won the silver while Baer took home the bronze.

“Definitely leaving with mixed feelings on my bowling," Watts said in a Facebook post afterwards. ”Had some good times but also struggled, as well.

"Overall, I was maybe on the hp [head pin] 80 percent of the time and at that level of play, that's unacceptable [as] these guys are the best in Canada.

“But still a 259 [average] isn't horrible and I am happy with it," he added. ”[It] just sucks being so close but just missing.

“[I] can't wait to represent Northern Ontario at the Open again,” concluded Watts.

“Hopefully it won't take me another six years like it did last time," he noted, referring to the last time he qualified for the nationals back in 2012, also held in Gatineau, where he finished fourth in the preliminary round before losing his first "stepladder” match to wind up fifth overall.

In the women's singles competition, Northern Ontario was represented by Renée Laframboise of Nickel District (Sudbury), who totalled 5,346 (254.6) over the 21-game preliminary round to finish in fourth place and advance to Saturday afternoon's “stepladder” playoffs.

But her dreams of capturing a national medal were dashed after falling 275-214 to fifth-place finisher Kelsey Wilton (Alberta) in the opening match.

Jennifer Baker of Newfoundland/Labrador, who had nabbed first place in the preliminary round with a 5,570 total (265.2 average), took the gold medal after defeating Danielle Leffler of Nova Scotia 236-223 in the final.

Kélyanne Beauchamp of Quebec wound up with the bronze.

In team play, Northern Ontario (represented by Thunder Bay) settled for the bronze medal in the men's division after falling by just nine pins to Ontario in their “stepladder” showdown Saturday morning.

Northern Ontario had finished second following the nine-team, double round-robin preliminary round held Wednesday to Friday with 76 points to advance to the “stepladder.”

B.C. topped the field with 85 points, with Saskatchewan taking third place (75) and Ontario snagging the fourth-and-final berth (66).

Then on Saturday, Ontario beat Sakatchewan 1,236-1,207 to win that match 6-2 before edging Northern Ontario 1,341-1,332 for a 6-2 victory and a berth in the gold-medal final against B.C.

Ontario nearly pulled it out—shading B.C. 1,303-1,292 for a narrow 4.5-3.5 victory to force a second-and-deciding match to determine the gold medal.

This time, though, B.C. cruised to a 1,303-1,213 margin to take the match 5-3 and leave Ontario as the silver medalists.

Northern Ontario's team included Greg DeGrazia, Taylor Michel, Tyson Nelson, Wesley Swoluk, Dan Taylor, and former Fort Frances youth bowler John Willcott, along with coach Bob Taylor.

In the eight-team ladies' division, Northern Ontario (represented by Nickel District) wound up last with 47.5 points following the triple round-robin preliminary round.

The team included Danica Lefebvre (engaged to former Fort Frances youth bowler Lyle Dolph), Cindy Remmerswaal, Ramona Stables, Ashley Tremblay, Shawna Ann Upson, and Laframboise, along with coach Elaine Laframboise.

Newfoundland/Labrador topped the preliminary round with 109.5 points, followed by Quebec (108.5), Alberta (95.5), and Ontario (95) to determine the four teams that advanced to Saturday's “stepladder.”

The Ontario ladies also nearly ran the table—knocking off Alberta (1,111-1,080) and then Quebec (1,186-1,173) before falling by just five pins to Newfoundland/Labrador (1,258-1,253) in the gold-medal final.

Ontario settled for the silver medal while Quebec took the bronze.

And in the 10-team mixed division, Northern Ontario (also represented by Nickel District) finished in ninth place with 52 points following the double round-robin preliminary round.

That team included Diane Depatie, Richard Gauthier, Jason Remmerswaal, Urgel Rheaume, Pauline Stables, and Lise St. Denis, along with coach Lynn Imbeau.

Quebec topped the preliminary round with 95.5 points, followed by Alberta (93.5), Ontario (87), and Saskatchewan (83) to determine the four “stepladder” teams.

In this division, it was a case of fourth-place Saskatchewan running the table on Saturday, upsetting both Ontario (1,155-1,039) and Alberta (1,268-1,181) to advance to face Quebec for the gold medal.

After winning 1,204-1,111 to force a second-and-deciding match, Ontario once again prevailed 1,325-1,009 to capture the national crown.

Quebec earned the silver medal while Alberta took the bronze.

At the awards banquet Saturday night, Michel and Laframboise were named to the men's and women's all-star teams, respectively.

Laframboise also had the individual high five games (1,454) and six games (1,751) in ladies' singles.

One perfect game was thrown during the tournament.

Adrian Kiss, a member of the B.C. men's team, rolled a 450 against P.E.I. in the final game of the preliminary round Friday.

He later was named the men's rookie of the year at the tournament.

Sunset Country bowler Tim Gadd of Dryden, second vice-president of the Northern Ontario 5 Pin Bowling Association, served as contingent manager for Northern Ontario at the nationals.

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