Spangler seeking history as York County Match Play bowling tournament returns
The defending champion could become just the second repeat winner and second three-time champion of the event.
Defending BowlerMaxx York County Match Play champ Mike Spangler admits he hasn't been bowling great lately. But he says he usually finds a way to elevate his game when qualifying for the tournament begins.
"I think the caliber of the competition pushes a lot of bowlers," he said. "You rise to the occasion."
Spangler has an opportunity to join an elite group of bowlers. First, he can become only the second bowler to win back-to-back titles in the tournament's 27-year history. Adam Baer accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2011.
He also can become the second bowler to win more than two Match Play titles. Baer has won the tournament five times, while Spangler, Dave Zelger, Steve Carbaugh, Greg Bruff and Eric Smith have won it twice.
Spangler gets his chance to join Baer as the most elite Match Play bowlers when qualifying begins with six games at Colony Park Lanes North at 1 p.m. this Saturday. Qualifying concludes with six games at Suburban Bowlerama at 10 a.m. Sunday.
The top 12 or 16 bowlers, depending on the number of entries, advance to match play the following weekend. Lion Bowl hosts match play on Saturday, April 22, and the tournament concludes with six games at Laser Alleys on Sunday, April 23.
"I feel like I could repeat as Match Play champ," said Spangler. "But there's a good reason it's only been done once. The field is a Who's Who of York County bowlers. It isn't unusual to have seven to nine former Match Play champs in the field. The competition is incredible."
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The steady right-hander said there's a lot of pressure on bowlers during qualifying.
"The scoring is traditionally high and you have to be able to put together a number of really good games," Spangler said. "There are no guarantees as to who will advance to match play."
Spangler bowls well at both qualifying centers, Colony Park North and Suburban Bowlerama.
Last year, Spangler won the Match Play title by 334 points, the second highest ever. In 2016, he rolled a 159 in the final match and held on to win the championship by three points, the narrowest winning margin.
"I much prefer a relaxed and stress-free final match," he said.
He knows better, however, than to expect an easy road to a third title.
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BowlerMaxx York County Match Play Champs
Dave Zelger 1996, 2000
Billy Heltzel Jr. 1997
Tony Lewis 1998
Jeff Hamme 1999
Brian Lafko 2001
Steve Carbaugh 2003, 2005
Chris Lakatosh 2004
Scott Farley 2006
Ken Dixon 2007
Adam Baer 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2017
Terry Miller 2009
Greg Bruff 2012, 2015
Jerred Poff 2013
Mike Spangler 2016, 2022
Eric Smith 2018, 2021
Ritchie Wolfe 2019