HAMMOND | Chuck Podkul Jr. always seems to be one of the most popular guys in the bowling center.
Olympia Lanes was full of smiles, hugs and high fives when the 2012 Pepsi/Times Classic Class A champion needed --and got-- a big game to make the semifinals on the last day of qualifying for the 2013 tournament.
The Griffith resident takes advice from guys like his cousin, 1997 Class A champ Bob Kammer, Jr, but said there's one friend who helps push him over the top.
"It just helps bowling with Don (Draia); He fires me up," Podkul said. "I stuffed a 10 pin in the third and stuffed the nine pin in the fifth and he just gave me that look. I go, 'OK.'"
Sporting a buzzed mohawk because he his 3-year-old daughter Paige asked him to, Podkul finished that game with a 248 for a 766 series and earned himself a qualifying spot.
"I knew what I needed and I worked my way in," Podkul said. "I'm a grinder. I hate to lose in anything I do."
Rick Woloszyn rolled this year's tournament's second 300 game en route to a 787 series. The Griffith resident finally conquered a long-time demon in the process.
"The last couple of senior tournaments, last couple Times tournaments, and just general tournaments in this house, this group of lanes right here has killed me," Woloszyn said. "You only have to have your head beat in about 10 times before you realize they got something on you."
Woloszyn credits the success with the use of a new Roto Grip ball, which he decided to use after seeing PBA professionals use about six months ago. He had the ball drilled Saturday and was using it for the first time.
"I wanted to do this a couple months ago, but I didn't do it," he said. "I had good action and it carried like no ball I've got."
Woloszyn won't be able to return for the semifinals. He'll be bowling in the Senior U.S. Open in Las Vegas.