It's a big sports week in North Dakota. It's time for the 34th Annual KFYR-TV Budweiser Bowling Classic.
It's an event so big the National Football League moved its championship into February just to try an captured some of our bowling success.
This is the 34th year Midway Lanes in Mandan is hosting the tournament and the 34th time the stepladder finals will be televised live.
Jim Mellon is the glue that keeps this event together.
"Number one, the weather is going to be nice, so everybody should travel with no hindrance on the road conditions. Number two, we are bringing in a pretty strong field this year. We are not quite full; it's going to be 120 of them. They are going to shoot eight games. We are going to take the top 30. We are going to have two alternates. We are going to have a banquet. You're going to be there. We are going to have it all, and we are giving away a lot of stuff: a 54-inch TV for the high qualifier, $300 for every 300 game bowled either day," said Mellon.
Two thousand dollars goes to the champion as well.
Jim Anderson and Bruce Rauser have bowling in every KFYR-TV Classic.
Jack Nelson and Duane Sandvick are veterans and former champions of this event.
Mellon says the younger guys are tough to beat, but having the experienced guys in the field helps balance the competition.
"It means that they are at an older age, still good. Jack is 66 years old now, you know Jim Anderson is 60 something, wait he's my age, I don't know if I want to tell you what that is, but it's in the 70s. But, they are beating up on these young kids, as I say that the young ones are coming in throwing 200 you know like spinning the ball Jason Belmonte out of Australia the pro these guys are learning how to bring their 9 or 10 bowling balls along and they are using the right one at the right time," said Mellon.
Matt Smallin is the defending champion.
After Saturday, the top 30 bowlers advance on Sunday and eventually the top five will be on KFYR-TV, KQCD-TV, KUMV-TV and KMOT-TV on Feb. 2 beginning at 11:30 a.m., CST.