Cool signs were on display earlier this winter at Palos Lanes for Beat the Champions; the women’s finals are today at Bluebird Lanes.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Beat the Champs: Anticipating the men’s finals at Arena Lanes

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SHARE Beat the Champs: Anticipating the men’s finals at Arena Lanes

Henry Burns keeps alive the long history of bowlers working for the United States Postal Service reaching the finals of Beat the Champions.

The Chicago 44-year-old, who is a mail carrier in Des Plaines, is one of 32 to reach the 56th BTC men’s finals Sunday at Arena Lanes in Oak Lawn.

Burns advanced from the Montgomery Ward League at Town Hall Bowl,

“I really have to play my games,’’ said Burns, a North Side man. “Some guys are going to be bowling almost 300.’’

He has a point, 11 of the men’s finalists are scratch bowlers. For the handicapped BTC, the handicap line is a 210 average. Those who average less receive 90 percent of the difference as handicap. Burns, who has a 180 average, will receive 108 pins of handicap on top of his four-game score.

In the finals, unlike the three games of the sectionals, there are four games.

Burns goes into Sunday with the right attitude.

“It is like football, `Any given Sunday,’ if I have my game face on,’’ he said. “I have been practicing.’’

He will have his fiancee and “some of the guys from the league’’ supporting him on Sunday at Arena Lanes, an establishment he has never bowled at.

Burns, who bowled in high school at Collins on the West Side, came back to league bowling at the age of 28 when a friend saw how good he was and pushed him to join a league.

Now Burns, who admires the venerable Hall-of-Famer Norm Duke, reached the local ultimate for league bowlers, the finals of BTC.

“I will be there with my ball shiny and ready to go,’’ he said.

This year the top prize in the finals for both the women’s and men’s champions is $7,500. The women’s finals are Sunday, March 12, at Bluebird Lanes in Chicago.

BTC is a handicapped charity tournament put on by the Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association with the Sun-Times as the media sponsor. It has raised more than $2.8 million for charity, so far.

Here are the averages and handicap for the men’s finalists for the 56th BTC:

Men’s finals

Noon, Sunday

Arena Lanes, Oak Lawn

Name, Establishment Avg, Hdcp

Harold Bailey, Classic Bowl 183, 97

Kilija Benson, Skyway Bowl 201, 32

Darron Brown, Dolton Bowl 198, 43

Steven Brown, Skyway Bowl 176, 122

Henry Burns, Townhall Bowl 180, 108

Dean Caprini, Brunswick Zone-Woodridge 211, 0

Ross Carmody, Centennial Lanes 214, 0

Kevin Comiskey, Arena Lanes 215, 0

Joseph Diaz, AMF Forest Lanes 185, 90

Brandon Donnelly, Fox Bowl 226, 0

Chinh Duong, Classic Bowl 219, 0

Parris Faulkner, Townhall Bowl 196, 50

Julian Galarza, Brunswick Zone-River Grove 188, 79

Louis Gorcos Oak, Forest Bowl 222, 0

Jerry Harris, Habetler Bowl 183, 97

Byron Johnson, Burr Oak Bowl 214, 0

Carnold Joyce, Tinley Bowl 189, 75

Carlos Lewis, Fox Bowl 177, 118

Dennis Mcbride, Timber Lanes 169, 147

Paul Mcelvaine, Castaways Bowl 235, 0

Marcus Marin, Arena Lanes 196, 50

Robert Masuca, Lakeside Lanes 178, 115

Pat Murphy, Lisle Lanes 196, 50

Anthony Muscari, Waveland Bowl 188, 79

Kevin Payne, Burr Oak Bowl 202, 28

Keith Plocharczyk, Arena Lanes 194, 57

Chris Schuch, Tinley Bowl 235, 0

Daniel Strubel, Fox Bowl 228, 0

Stephen Tate, Arena Lanes 191, 68

Michael Thomas Jr., Classic Bowl 237, 0

Jeromy Wicklund, Stardust Bowl 196, 50

Nathan Wiltgen, Oak Forest Bowl 189, 75

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