Tackett, Marshall Kent, Kyle Troup, Benjy Martinez and Zach Wilkins advance to Saturday’s championship round

With six games remaining in the Just Bare PBA Indiana Classic, then-tournament leader EJ Tackett set a goal.

“If I come out and bowl something like 300-over, that’s going to make someone have to bowl really, really well to catch me,” Tackett said. “If someone catches me doing that, so be it.”

Tackett shot 1,520 (+320) during the final elimination round at David Small’s Championship Lanes in Anderson, Ind. Nobody caught him.

The Indiana native, who averaged 246.38 for 36 games on the 37-foot Viper pattern, will make his fourth consecutive championship round appearance on Saturday. He will be joined by Marshall Kent, Kyle Troup, Benjy Martinez and Zach Wilkins.

Since his 17th place finish in the season-opening PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers, Tackett has finished fourth, fifth, third and will finish at least second on Saturday.

“I've gotten a little bit better every single week,” Tackett said. “I feel like I'm in good form. I don't know if I'm in as good a form as last year because last year was so good physically. Everything went right. But I feel like I'm getting close back to that.”

The Just Bare PBA Indiana Classic finals will begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on FS1.


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Kent shot 159 in the opening game of the tournament, placing him in 64th place of 64 competitors. He averaged more than 243 in the subsequent 35 games, including a literal 243 in the decisive final game, to earn the No. 2 seed for the finals.

When the 31-year-old won the PBA Illinois Classic a fortnight ago for his sixth career PBA Tour title and first singles title since 2017, he said the title would mean that he was “back.”

He meant it.

“I felt confident with the work I put in, but winning a couple of weeks ago took it to that next level,” Kent said. “I'm just gonna try to ride the wave and hopefully win a couple of matches on TV. I feel like getting the No. 2 seed was huge because now I’ve got two games to win it.”

The third-seeded Troup also won a title earlier this month at the U.S. Open. However, other than his green jacket-winning performance, Troup had not made a cut this season.

Troup averaged more than 240 to make his second championship round of the season. In the final game — where the difference between the No. 2 and No. 4 seed was just 12 pins — Troup fired four consecutive clutch strikes to shoot 235 and hold on to the No. 3 seed.

“That’s the first time in my career I’ve never known what I needed, whether it was to make the cut, make the show or get the No. 1 seed,” Troup said. “That was a pretty sweet feeling. The (ball reps) really helped me read the lanes today, but this was a big stepping stone for me mentally.”

Troup credited the renewed mental strength he found this week to reading Mind Gym, of which he has saved 15 pages for Saturday's finals.

Martinez, who nearly set a PBA Tour scoring record with a 1,632 six-game series earlier this event, earned the No. 4 seed. The 26-year-old staved off fellow Mexican Arturo Quintero and last week’s champion Anthony Simonsen by closing the final round with games of 268 and 266.

As Martinez wrote down his final scores, tears poured down his cheek as reality caught up to him.

“All the excitement that I had been holding in came out,” Martinez said. “It’s been a very intense week, trying to keep up with the best in the world. I knew I had a great chance. I had great ball reaction all week. But it’s not easy to do.”

“In my first-ever PBA tournament, I made the show,” said Martinez, referring to the 2021 PBA Players Championship Southwest Region Finals. “After that, I haven’t even been close. You think to yourself, maybe it was luck, but also maybe I just need to keep working. It’s one thing to see it in your mind. You see it over and over and over. But when it actually happened, I just let go. I proved to myself that I could do it again.”


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Wilkins finished 50th in points last season for the final 2024 exempt spot. He has taken full advantage of the opportunity and is in the midst of a career season.

The 27-year-old Canadian has placed no lower than 18th in five title events so far this season. He elevated his game once again this week to earn the No. 5 seed and make his televised singles championship round debut.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot in the last three years to make this a career. This feels very bittersweet right now,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins previously made the 2019 Roth/Holman Doubles Championship finals with Patrick Girard and the non-televised 2019 PBA Gene Carter's Pro Shop Classic finals.

Wilkins said his performance this week — and all season — was for his family.

“My dad is recovering from cancer and my fiancée’s mom is currently in the hospital,” Wilkins said. “This has been a very emotional week for me. I’m going to do everything I can on Saturday to win for them.”

The Just Bare PBA Indiana Classic finals will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.

Final Elimination Round Standings

  1. EJ Tackett, 8,870 (+1,670)
  2. Marshall Kent, 8,665 (+1,465)
  3. Kyle Troup, 8,660 (+1,460)
  4. Benjy Martinez, 8,640 (+1,440)
  5. Zach Wilkins, 8,619 (+1,419)
  6. Arturo Quintero, 8,544 (+1,344)
  7. Anthony Simonsen, 8,530 (+1,330)
  8. Dom Barrett, 8,507 (+1,307)
  9. Wes Malott, 8,501 (+1,301)
  10. Tom Daugherty, 8,467 (+1,267)
  11. Jason Belmonte, 8,429 (+1,249)
  12. Stu Williams, 8,362 (+1,162)

Full standings are available here.

Just Bare PBA Indiana Classic Schedule

David Small’s Championship Lanes | Anderson, IN

All times Eastern

Friday, Feb. 23
5:30 p.m. — Meet and Greet with finalists

Saturday, Feb. 24
7:30 p.m. — Just Bare PBA Indiana Classic finals


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