Good morning sunshine.

There isn’t much new under the sun for Beat the Champions after 56 years. There was this year.

Sean Rash filled in for snowed-in Ryan Ciminelli to set the men’s targets at River Rand Bowl in Des Plaines. Liz Johnson set the women’s targets a record-tying fourth time.

Ciminelli kept trying to fly from Buffalo, but Bill Duff, executive director of the Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association, had to go backup.

Tony LaCaze could not get off work. So Duff called and texted Rash, who was home in Montgomery. When Duff could not reach him, Ciminelli came through.
“He called Sara and told her to wake her husband up,’’ Duff said.

So Rash, for the second time in three years, set the target for BTC, the charity bowling event put on by the CPBA with the Sun-Times as the media sponsor.

For a guy drafted to bowl on television without any practice for a week, Rash did all right, rolling a 708 (235, 247, 226). Johnson did even better with a 717 (268, 225, 224). All on a house shot.

Johnson strung eight strikes in the fourth to 10th frames of the first game, the day’s best. She used a Phaze II on Lane 9 and a Roto Grip No Rules on Lane 10, which had a tough spot. She switched to No Rules Pearl (coming in January) for Lane 10 in the final game.

“Lane 10 was not fun,’’ Johnson said. “You had to be right on.’’

The 10 pin, which hung up in Lane 10, made the difference between Rash and Johnson. Rash started a run in the final game, including five opening strikes. Then he missed the 10 pin in the seventh frame, his only open.

“And that is why spares are important,’’ Rash said.

Johnson’s only open came off a 4-6-7 split in the eighth frame of the second game.

Rash made the shot of the day when he kicked the 4 to convert a 4-9 split in the ninth frame of the opening game.

“I probably make 1 in a 100 of those,’’ Rash said.

The big numbers for BTC are the more than $2.8 million raised for charity. And the $7,500 going to both the men’s and women’s champions this year.

There was a Plan D for the men’s targets. Former collegiate bowler, Matt Kuba, who works at Lawn Lanes, sat next to Dave Supanich. Ready, if needed.




CHARITY STRIKES: Johnson set a record of 11 strikes during the Miller Lite Charity Strikes portion of the target show.

During the fifth and 10th frames, Miller Lite gives $100 for each strike to the charity of the target bowler’s choice. Johnson did more with that opportunity than any other bowler since the promotion began. Her 11 strikes raised $1,100 for Orphans of the Storm, a north suburban animal shelter.

Rash chose Cubs Charities on the fly. He struck four times in the fifth and 10th for $400. Rash said he learned to love the Cubs growing up in Alaska and being able to watch them on WGN after school.

MAN VS WOMAN: Johnson’s 717 to Rash’s 708 means the woman pro has rolled the higher score in all but one of the last six years. The exception came two years ago when Rash rolled a 752 to Shannon Pluhowsky’s 637.

NEXT: Scores by entered league bowlers from contest week earlier in December are being tallied. Bowlers advancing to the sectionals will be notified.

REBROADCAST: The target show will be rebroadcast on Comcast SportsNet at 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve and at 9 a.m. New Year’s Day.