North Hill Bowl to hold tournament

The competition at North Hill Bowl this weekend will be a tad tougher than traditional standards.

The Morris Anderson Memorial Shootout is back for its 10th rendition starting Saturday. Jeff Kragh, who runs the tournament, said last year’s version featured competitors from 14 states and four Canadian provinces aiming for the $5,000 that Minnesota’s Scott Pohl eventually took home.

The tournament, originally called the Fisher Motor Shootout, was thought up by Kragh and the late Morris Anderson, at that time the owner of North Hill Bowl.

“Morris and I sat down one day and decided we wanted to have the biggest tournament in the state,” Kragh said.

Anderson’s death in July 2009 didn’t stop the tournament’s growth.

“It’s huge,” said Matt Smallin, the winner of the 2011 Shootout.

Each bowler – there are expected to be about 160 – will roll eight games on day one. The field will then be whittled down to three groups of a dozen for the second day. Making that initial cut is difficult, but it’s something the top competitors have come to expect.

“When you’ve worked as hard at bowling as I have, day two is always an expectation,” said the 25-year-old Smallin, who has participated since he was 18 and failed to make the second day twice.

“If you miss day two you feel awful, there’s something terribly wrong.”

On the second day, each contestant bowls a game against each member of his group. Once this is accomplished, the five top bowlers overall are seeded in a stepladder final. The fifth seed faces the fourth seed, with the winner advancing to play No. 3, etc.

Smallin, a Minot Federal Express driver, remembers being the top seed and having to wait his turn for one winner-take-all match.

“It is ten frames and just one game,” Smallin said. “Anything can happen in that game. … I knew I had a pretty big idea of what the lanes were doing. It wasn’t really nerve-racking necessarily. It’s not as nerve-racking if you’re in a really good zone.”

Smallin rolled three strikes in the final frame to clinch his victory over Canada’s Michael Schmidt, 248-247. To date, Smallin calls the win his biggest bowling triumph.

Anyone is allowed in the field who isn’t a Pro Bowlers Association national champion.