by Fred Eisenhammer
Tripp scored a 245-175 victory over Justin Spurrier of Las Vegas in the one-game championship match that was held March 25.
“By the seventh frame or so, it was all but decided,” said the 46-year-old Tripp, a Santa Clarita resident. “I was able to kind of enjoy the moment a little bit and relax and soak up what was happening. It’s been a very long time waiting for this day.”
Tripp’s decisive victory almost obscured how gritty he bowled throughout the one-day tournament en route to claiming the $2,000 top prize.
There were 69 entrants and 16 bowlers advanced to match play based on total pin count. Tripp didn’t make it into the Round of 16 until he squeezed into the qualifying group in his eighth and final game.
A powerful 246 allowed Tripp to advance as the 10th highest qualifier with a 1,712 score. Chris Ferreira of Visalia, who would be eliminated in his first match-play series, was the top qualifier with an 1,896.
Tripp, who works as an accountant and is the owner of the pro shop at Santa Clarita Lanes, turned back Mark Myers of Phoenix in his first competition in match play.
The Round of 16 is a best three-out-of-five format. Tripp advanced in five games, winning the last game decisively with a 269, his best score of the day.
Now in the best-of-three Round of 8, Tripp met Michael Duran of Banning, Calif., the second-leading qualifier. Again, the match was extended into the final game. Tripp lost the first game before striking out in the 10th frame of the tense second game to shut out Duran en route to a 197-195 victory.
With the match on the line in the finale, Tripp once again came up big, scoring a 257-244 victory. Tripp said he had come into the tournament with a lot of confidence, but his march to the title game appeared to be over in the best-of-one Round of 4.
He faced Craig Spencer of Tempe, Ariz., who had rolled into his match against Tripp undefeated in match play, scoring five victories. Spencer appeared to have locked up his sixth straight victory when he went to the line on his first shot in the 10th frame, needing only a spare to win. Spencer, stunningly, left the 2-10 split, failed to convert it and Tripp escaped with a 222-216 victory and a trip to the championship match.
“It was pretty unlikely,” said Tripp about Spencer’s misfortune. “He had been around the pocket all match. These things happen and I just thanked my lucky stars. In match play, it’s more about who you bowl and when – not as much as what you score.”
Given new life, Tripp conceded he felt “pretty confident at that point.” Tripp then put the championship match out of reach early to add to his list of strong PBA regional performances, which include several runner-up finishes.
“All the matches were really close,” said Tripp about the Las Vegas regional. “When it really counted, I stepped up and performed. The one time I didn’t, I got some help.”
Tripp, who has smoked 69 perfect games and exactly 50 800 series, has been a PBA member since 1991. He competes in PBA regionals off and on.
“It was kind of surreal,” said Tripp about winning his first PBA title. “I had assumed it was going to happen a long time ago. It was a relief that it actually happened.
There was a sense of calm that it happened.” Tripp went on to advance to match play in the doubles portion of the PBA regional event with teammate Paul Bober, a Morton Grove, Ill., resident. Tripp and Bober’s team was ousted in the first round of match play, but each walked off with $550.
Tripp is considered one of the elite bowlers in the L.A. area and takes part in the ultra-competitive Bill Mossontte Majors league at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana. He holds the league’s top average at 240 and ripped off a 730 in league action last week.
Tripp says he’s been bowling nearly all his life, first picking up a ball when he was 5. He shot his first 300 at 21 and still remembers that special date: May 7, 1990. He practices several times a week and top bowler Matt Jones heaps a lot of praise on Tripp for his work ethic.
“He’s put in so much work the past 20 years,” Jones says. “He’s worked about as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen in the sport. And when you do, you deserve it [PBA title].”
Said Tripp: “To put in the hard work and see the reward is very satisfying.”
The South Point West Challenge was considered a socalled “non-champions” event, meaning it was open to PBA members who do not hold a PBA title and non-members who have never won a PBA event.
Tripp plans to compete in additional PBA regional events, most likely in June. “I’d like to prove this was not a one-time thing – that I can do it again,” Tripp said.
Summing up his PBA regional victory, Tripp said: “I really didn’t feel any pressure. It was almost like it was my time.”