HAMMOND | The semifinals are set.
Only 16 bowlers in each class remain in the 63rd annual Times Classic co-sponsored by Pepsi to compete in the semifinals June 3 at Olympia Lanes.
Among them will be Ed Hedden. The Hammond resident has spent 12 years trying to break onto the prestigious leaderboard. He finally did with a 766 in the final squad of the qualifying rounds.
"I'm stoked right now," Hedden said. "I've shot 800's and I've shot 300's, but I've been trying to qualify in this forever. I want to cry, but I'm not going to."
After a slow start, Hedden rolled a 279 followed by a 280.
"I switched pairs (of lanes) and just found a good line," Hedden said. "I was just trying to stay composed. I was more consistent."
With local association hall-of-famers and PBA veterans to compete against, Hedden knows he'll have to be on top of his game in two weeks if he wants to advance to the finals.
"I'm not one of the big shots, but I can hold my own," he said. "I can hang with them."
In Class B, A.J. Griffin posted a qualifying score in his first ever Classic. The 20-year-old Schererville resident shot a scratch 727, which after handicap became a 739.
"I rolled the ball really well," Griffin said. "I came out here and just bowled my game."
Griffin's only been bowling for about four years, but says he's only been doing so "competitively" this season.
"It feels really good (to qualify). I'm really happy," Griffin said. "I have to bowl some of the best, but it'd be really cool (to win the whole thing)."
In the earlier squad, a wobbly but stubborn 10 pin in the last frame cost George Alvarado a 300 game.
Notable series scores included Willie Jubiter's 803 in Class A. Mike Dugan notched a 779 in Class SA while Milton Jones rolled a 747 in Class B.