PBA Wichita Classic Preview
The fourth stop of the 2023 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour, for many of the game’s finest talents, marks a return to old stomping grounds.
The PBA Wichita Classic will take place at Northrock Lanes, the center where dozens of Tour stars developed as part of the illustrious Wichita State University program.
Chris Barnes, Jake Peters, Mitch Hupé, AJ Chapman and last week’s finalist Joseph Grondin, among others, graduated from the Shocker ranks — as did Packy Hanrahan and François Lavoie, who still live in town.
The city last hosted the PBA Tour in 2018, when Dom Barrett defeated Jakob Butturff to win the U.S. Open. Butturff, the PBA's top lefty this season, led the tournament by over 550 pins that week.
The action begins on Wednesday morning and all rounds will be livestreamed on BowlTV. Here’s what you need to know:
Players to Watch
Seven-time Player of the Year Jason Belmonte’s pursuit of a record-setting eighth award hasn’t gotten off to the start he envisioned, posting finishes of 70th, seventh and 25th. With the second major of the year still a month away, he can get back on track this week.
Kevin McCune, sixth overall in points, has been one of the PBA's breakout players this season. He made match play at the U.S. Open and the PBA Springfield Classic, finishing 12th in each event, before finishing 21st last week in Shawnee.
Matt Ogle excelled at the PBA League last season, and that success has carried into 2023. He has finished among the top 15 in each of his two events this season. The 38-year-old is a player to keep your eyes on this week, pun intended.
The top story all season has been the brilliance of EJ Tackett. The former Player of the Year has laid the groundwork for a second honor, winning two of the first three tournaments of the season.
While Tackett struggled at the PBA Springfield Classic, perhaps due to an emotional hangover after winning the U.S. Open, he’ll look to win back-to-back titles for the first time in his career this week.
Anthony Simonsen has been knocking on the door each week, finishing no lower than 10th this season. Despite the remarkable résumé compiled thus far by the 26-year-old, he has yet to bring home Player of the Year honors in his career. A win this week could be the impetus to a first-ever POY campaign.
Sam Cooley has racked up consecutive top-10 finishes, including a win at the PBA Springfield Classic. In his attempt to return to the PBA League, the Australian has been looking to prove his stellar 2021 season — in which he won one title and finished ninth in points — was no fluke.
Classic Series Points Leaders
This will be the third of five Classic Series events this season. The top eight point earners across those five tournaments will earn the chance to compete in July’s PBA Skill Ball Challenge. Cooley and Tackett, who won the first two tournaments, lead the way thus far.
- Sam Cooley, 6,310
- EJ Tackett, 5,280
- Dom Barrett, 3,510
- Jakob Butturff, 3,310
- Keven Williams, 3,260
- Anthony Simonsen, 2,800
- Sean Lavery-Spahr, 2,770
- DJ Archer, 2,490
- Anthony Neuer, 2,360
- Chris Via, 2,190
- Dick Allen, 2,120
- François Lavoie, 2,040
- Jason Belmonte, 2,020
- Kevin McCune, 1,920
- Joseph Grondin, 1,900
After competing on short and medium lane conditions in the first two Classic Series events, the players’ next challenge is the 45-foot Dragon oil pattern.
All players will bowl 18 games of qualifying, bowling three six-game blocks across Wednesday and Thursday. Then the field will be cut to the top 22 players for an additional six-game round, which will determine the 12 finalists for Friday’s round-robin match play.
Wednesday, Feb. 22
12 p.m. ET — Qualifying Round 1 (six games)
6 p.m. ET — Qualifying Round 2 (six games)
Thursday, Feb. 23
12 p.m. ET — Qualifying Round 3 (six games) — cut to top 22 players
6 p.m. ET — Top-22 Qualifying Round (six games) — cut to top 12 players
Friday, Feb. 24
11 a.m. ET — Round-robin match play Round 1 (six games)
3 p.m. ET — Round-robin match play Round 2 (six games) — cut to top four players
7 p.m. ET — Stepladder finals
More information on the PBA Wichita Classic is available here.