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Dave Kareis wasn't very optimistic at the end of qualifying for the fourth annual York County Senior Match Play Bowling Championship.

After four games at Hanover Bowling Centre and four games at Suburban Bowlerama, the 53-year-old right-hander was in fifth place, 140 pins behind the leader, Rick Graham.

Kareis knew it would be an uphill battle for the six games of match play at Lion Bowl on Saturday. Catching Graham wouldn't be easy. After all, Graham was recently named the 2018 Professional Bowlers Association East Region Senior Player of the Year.

Kareis, however, blistered the lanes, averaging 240. He moved into first place after the fifth game of match play. In the position round, he defeated southpaw Dane Slenker, 220-201, to capture the title.

"This is the first tournament I have won in a while," Kareis said. "So, it felt especially good."

Helped by bonus pins: Although Kareis said he didn't expect to win the tournament, he knew if he could collect enough bonus pins, it would make the comeback easier.

"I like the modified match-play format," he said. "You are rewarded for your high games, and if you bowl well you can move quickly up the standings."

In modified match play, bowlers receive plus or minus the number of pins over or under 200 each game, and the top half of the field, based on individual game results, also receives bonus pins. The bowler with the highest score receives the most bonus pins, and the amount of bonus pins decreases with each subsequent position.

Familiar with Lion Bowl: Kareis said his familiarity with Lion Bowl also aided his comeback. Although he hasn't bowled in a league at the center for the past several years, he did compete in leagues at Lion Bowl for nearly 25 years.

"I felt very comfortable at Lion Bowl," he said. 

Kareis added that winning the title was more meaningful because of the level of the competition.

"This year, we had the largest field ever (33 bowlers) and I think it was the most competitive ever," he said. "And, I think there's potential for the field to grow next year."

Final standings: The final standings and number of pins are as follows: Kareis (734); Joe Andreone (665); Rick Graham (643); Dane Slenker (643); Chuck Crone (532); Guy Johnson (403); Nate Jameson (393); Bill Kuntz (383); Keith Conley (345); Marlin Garvick (261); and Jerry Wire (98).

This story was provided through the York Area Bowling Proprietors Association.

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