Ilgenfritz set to defend York Masters bowling title

Barry Sparks
For The York Dispatch

Twenty-five-year-old Zach Ilgenfritz is set to defend his York Masters title Sunday at Laser Alleys.

Last year, the West Yorker was a dark horse candidate who surprised a talent-laden field. He hadn't planned on entering the challenging tournament until 2019 York Masters champ Ritchie Wolfe offered to pay his $70 entry fee as a birthday present.

This year, he won't catch anyone by surprise.

"I still consider myself a dark horse," said Ilgenfritz, who erased a lot of self-doubt with his win last year.  "But, I know I can compete against the best bowlers, and I'm 100% more confident than last year."

Zach Ilgenfritz is set to defend his 2022 York Masters title this weekend.

To repeat, Ilgenfritz will have to survive a star-studded field of 34 bowlers. Among the top competitors are five-time York County Match Play champ Adam Baer and two-time Match Play champs Greg Bruff, Mike Spangler and Eric Smith, as well as one-time Match Play winners Jerred Poff and Ritchie Wolfe.

"It's awesome that York County has so many high-caliber bowlers," Ilgenfritz said. "It's an impressive field. Anyone who wins this tournament has to do a lot of great bowling."

Ilgenfritz said it will be important for bowlers to quickly adjust to the changing lane conditions and to take the games frame by frame.

"I feel like I know what I'm doing this year," said Ilgenfritz, who confesses to still having some moments of self-doubts. Now, however, they are briefer than in the past. 

The defending champ has been dealing with an injury to his right hand, but he doesn't believe it will affect his performance.

Ilgenfritz has viewed the live stream of last year's York Masters Tournament several times, and he said it's still "exhilarating." It's a feeling he hopes to experience again.

The tournament features five games of qualifying, and the top 12 advance to a single-elimination bracket finals. The top four bowlers receive a first-round bye. Final rounds one and two are two-game total pin fall matches. The semifinals and finals are one-game matches. Ties are broken with a one-ball roll-off. First place pays $800.

The tournament, sponsored by Bowlers Supply, will be live streamed at fb.me/yorkcountymatchplay. Action starts at 9 a.m. Sunday.