It’s not often an athlete directs a crotch-chop gesture at an opponent during live competition.
That’s exactly what Geoff Poston did, though, during Sunday’s Topeka Top Ten bowling tournament at West Ridge Lanes — and truthfully, he had more than one reason to be a little cocky.
One stubborn pin in the ninth frame is all that kept Poston from bowling a 300 in the adult men’s stepladder finals, but his 11-strike performance in the championship round was more than enough to defeat third-seeded Kyle Turner, 279-206.
Poston and Turner, who bowl together on Tuesday nights at West Ridge, seemed to relish playing each another in the final.
“Kyle’s my guy,” Poston said. “To be able to bowl with (him) in the championship? Whatever happened was gravy.”
Poston joined first-time winners Michelle Springer (adult women) and Nathan Mercer (boys) and repeat champions Dennis Uhl (senior men), Ann Dick (senior women) and Whitney Prockish (girls) in taking home hardware Sunday.
After earning the top-overall seed in qualifying with a five-game average of 236.6, Poston cheered Turner on through the latter’s pair of stepladder-round victories. In the final, Poston — sporting a blue shirt with at least two dozen bowling-related patches stitched in — got a little chirpy.
At one point very early on, Poston wondered aloud what he’d do with his prize money. Then, after a strike punctuated what was a then-perfect start, the 41-year-old delivered the crotch-chop gesture in Turner’s general direction.
“I gave him one,” Poston said with a smile. “He was talking a little trash, and so once I threw about a six packer on him, I gave him one — just to let him know he’d better strike out or he’s done.”
Neither Poston nor Turner — along with several others at the 59-bowler, six-division tournament — would have qualified for the event had it not been for a rule change enacted this year. Participants are no longer required to bowl in at least one league at both Gage Bowl and West Ridge, with the organizers instead determining the field on single-league averages with the top five at each location qualifying for the Top Ten.
Count Poston, who coaches at Seaman and now lives in Lawrence, among the fans of the new policy. Poston won the event in 2006 but has been unable to compete in recent years due to the two-league mandate.
“With only two houses in Topeka, it gives you a better shot to get the best guys in the tournament,” Poston said, “and I think that’s what happened today.”
Springer ended a decade of frustration at the Top Ten in emphatic fashion, rolling seven strikes (six consecutive) in a championship-round upset of top-seeded Rachel Barber, 245-223.
Already a multi-time second- and third-place finisher at the tournament, the fourth-seeded Springer had to win three stepladder games just to qualify for the championship against Barber, who paced the adult women with a 225.4 average in qualifying.
Springer and Barber, who play together Tuesdays at Gage Bowl, embraced after the final as Barber congratulated Springer on finally breaking through at the event.
“We had been talking all week and we wanted it to come down to her and me,” Springer said. “We’re really good friends outside of bowling ... so it was just a good, healthy competition between friends, and either way it was going to be a good win.”
After winning, Springer held up a raggedy grey-and-black rosin ball, a recently acquired gift that had turned into a good luck charm of sorts at the Top Ten.
“It’s all ’cause of this!” Springer said.
“I know, and I gave it to you,” Barber replied.
SMACK DAB — Mercer wasn’t as graceful at Cam Newton, but the heart was there.
Moments after Mercer rolled a 300 game in the fourth round of qualifying, fellow competitor Jared Freed rushed him, recording video with his phone. Freed, a tournament alternate, demanded Mercer “do the dab,” a celebratory gesture popularized by the Carolina Panthers quarterback Newton.
Mercer obliged, delivering it in one forceful motion.
“I think I have a little bit of work to do on my form,” Mercer admitted.
Mercer, 16, rolled into the top seed with a 232.8 average in qualifying, then dispatched second-seeded Blake Massey in the final, 227-188. The Shawnee Heights junior and Centennial League boys champion notched the fifth 300 game of his career, joining men’s competitor Troy Bell as the only bowlers to roll 300 at the tournament.
Prockish, a Washburn Rural graduate who will attend Newman this fall, edged fellow All-Class 6A first team selection and Topeka High graduate Carley Sullivan in her final, 222-216.
The 18-year-old Prockish, who posted a 212.6 average in qualifying, trailed 199-192 going into the last frame, but her three-strike effort in the tenth was enough to move ahead as Sullivan put up a strike but dropped only seven pins in a second-attempt split before missing altogether on her final roll.
“She made me work for it,” said Prockish, who won the 6A state championship as a junior. “I knew I had to strike out to win it. When I got that split in the (seventh) frame, I worried.”
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR SENIORS — Uhl watched in awe as eventual finals opponent Kirby Cain mowed down semifinal foe Jerry McCart, 277-216.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m in trouble,’” Uhl recalled.
But Uhl’s top 252.8 average in qualifying would be his greatest aid, as a thumb sore slowed Cain in the championship round to give Uhl his second Top Ten championship, 195-192.
Uhl, 63, said limiting the number of games at tournaments with stepladder formats is key.
“Especially at our age,” Uhl said, “where we hadn’t bowled all summer, neither one of us.”
Dick, top-seeded on the senior women’s side, defeated Barb Tidwell in her final, 169-143. Now a three-time champion, Dick posted a 186.6 average in the qualifying round.
Topeka Top Ten
Results Sunday at West Ridge Lanes
(a — made field as alternate)
Geoff Poston 276-233-205-214-255 — 1,183
Ryan Essman 228-254-208-235-257 — 1,182
a-Kyle Turner 258-234-211-254-188 — 1,145
Luke Rosdahl 204-239-233-207-257 — 1,140
Allen Payne 224-201-243-259-203 — 1,130
Russ Wilson 203-252-215-235-189 — 1,094
Troy Bell 193-300-200-227-172 — 1,092
Randall Schiffelbein 163-279-179-189-228 — 1,038
Steve Harrison 214-212-198-214-174 — 1,012
a-David Halseth 214-193-183-221-195 — 1,006
Payne def. Rosdahl, 246-197; Turner def. Payne, 214-202; Turner def. Essman, 284-204; Poston def. Turner, 279-206 (championship).
Rachel Barber 246-237-171-224-249 — 1,127
Melissa Urich 200-182-214-212-259 — 1,067
Chelsie Bahr 212-193-232-213-196 — 1,046
Michelle Springer 221-156-169-204-268 — 1,018
Shelia Krohe 156-186-179-208-188 — 917
Rachel Payne 171-200-185-183-166 — 905
Angie Ross 189-154-191-179-165 — 878
Shelbie Epperson 163-186-199-146-158 — 852
Angel Rosdahl 166-185-166-166-131 — 814
Springer def. Krohe, 236-183; Springer def. Bahr, 206-167; Springer def. Urich, 183-171; Springer def. Barber, 245-223 (championship).
Dennis Uhl 248-266-248-234-268 — 1,264
Jerry McCart 226-215-247-242-214 — 1,144
Kirby Cain 237-254-201-227-204 — 1,123
a-Greg Hoefer 261-223-230-223-182 — 1,119
a-Jim Charity 299-227-213-139-237 — 1,115
Craig Trapp 234-173-221-246-190 — 1,064
Bill Weakly 181-196-256-183-220 — 1,036
a-Ron Raines 198-246-172-220-141 — 977
Ron Bahr 156-163-224-211-188 — 942
Rich Schauff 178-189-193-183-182 — 925
Hoefer def. Charity, 202-135; Cain def. Hoefer, 243-204; Cain def. McCart, 277-216; Uhl def. Cain, 192-195 (championship).
Ann Dick 174-195-183-198-183 — 933
Sheryl Drewis 188-164-179-194-176 — 901
Barb Tidwell 191-159-195-179-160 — 884
Sheryl Berroth 188-162-170-149-182 — 851
a-Deb Lewis 147-138-202-201-158 — 846
Bonnie Gaunt 235-162-146-133-169 — 845
RoxAnn Crowder 171-182-169-167-150 — 839
Pearl Colby 156-143-166-146-158 — 769
Kay Johnson 135-155-138-169-145 — 742
Cleora Cushinberry 162-132-116-149-171 — 730
Lewis def. Berroth, 160-141; Tidwell def. Lewis, 171-151; Tidwell def. Drewis, 177-172; Dick def. Tidwell, 169-143 (championship).
Nathan Mercer 233-237-235-300-159 — 1,164
Blake Massey 195-238-268-205-238 — 1,144
Dom Phillips 247-202-170-193-276 — 1,088
Brayden Prockish 201-279-203-192-194 — 1,069
Adam Wood 214-257-182-216-161 — 1,030
Noah Belt 188-232-211-173-212 — 1,016
Garrett Halseth 195-206-198-191-215 — 1,005
Jordan Freed 194-160-238-220-171 — 983
John Baeten 200-203-184-179-212 — 978
Preston Millard 229-141-192-181-199 — 942
Wood def. Prockish, 217-175; Wood def. Phillips, 245-185; Massey def. Wood, 248-187; Mercer def. Massey, 227-188 (championship).
Whitney Prockish 183-207-225-214-234 — 1,063
Carley Sullivan 246-184-136-243-136 — 945
Andrea Wickstrum 186-160-200-166-198 — 910
Kishno Bell 175-127-212-181-176 — 871
Hannah Casto 142-204-170-178-170 — 864
Gabi Millard 165-180-170-150-157 — 822
Janae Peoples 161-143-181-149-164 — 798
Eryn Dollins 142-153-114-172-192 — 773
Kellie Passow 135-98-154-158-211 — 756
Megan Wood 167-120-135-142-109 — 673
Bell def. Casto, 157-152; Bell def. Wickstrum, 178-174; Sullivan def. Bell, 247-205; Prockish def. Sullivan, 222-216 (championship).