HAMMOND | Wayne Dean wasn't at Olympia Lanes to bowl on the last day of qualifying for the Times/Pepsi Classic on Sunday.
The Chicago resident was secure at the top of the Class A standings with his 847 series. Dean was just there to make sure things stayed that way.
"Honestly, it's not really about money to me," Dean said. "It's just about me being myself again."
Dean was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease, last year. He struggled in the bowling house – his average dropping from 217 to 180 – but he never took a break from his leagues.
"Last year was a troubling year for me," he said. "I've dedicated this season to myself, to getting myself back in order."
Getting himself motivated for a weekend tournament was tough, Dean said. He's still only bowling at about 90 percent, by his own estimation.
"Last summer, I was just working on getting myself together," he said.
Dean posted his score May 10 and it's held up. He only bowled that day because a spot opened up at the last minute. It's his first time bowling in the Classic.
"It was just the man upstairs has everything out of the way for me," Dean said.
John Verbich came closest to unseating Dean at the top in the first squad Sunday, rolling two 300 games en route to an 846 series.
That score ties Verbich with fellow Griffith resident Mike Kozy for second in Class A.
"It feels good to bowl 300. It's always good to shoot 300," Verbich said. "It would've been nice to be No. 1, but I'll take it."
Verbich didn't push anyone out of a qualifying spot. He'd already made the list with a 791 a week prior. Sunday's round was just insurance.
"(After bowling a 235 in the third game), I moved left a little bit, just about a board and was able to carry it," he said. "Obviously, I like my chances (in the semifinals). I'll keep striking with that, hopefully, and just get the carry."
Scores have been much higher than in the recent past. Verbich was one of nine different Class A bowlers posting 800 or better series by the end of the first squad Sunday.