A Kokomo man found what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas after he came back $20,000 richer and with a national championship title.
At the beginning of the month, Trent Marner, a longtime Kokomo competitive bowler, participated in the True Amateur Tournament (TAT) for bowling at South Point Hotel and Casino and won the $20,000 grand prize after placing first in the senior division.
“I was talking to my buddies the other day, and it was really odd because, the whole week out there, I really felt no pressure whatsoever. And even on Sunday while bowling, there just a calmness about the whole thing,” Marner said.
The 51-year-old has competed in TAT tournaments since 2008, but this was his first time winning the whole thing. As an avid bowler since he was 6 years old, he said it was invigorating and a relief to finally get the big one.
“I didn’t get rattled. I basically just tried to stay within myself and concentrate on making good shots and not what everyone else was doing,” he said.
The tournament went from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7, with qualifying matches taking the first six days. Marner’s first qualifying match was Wednesday, Feb. 3, and he made the divisional finals in the senior division on the first day. He was safe until Sunday.
On Sunday, the final day of the tournament, Marner won three consecutive matches to advance to the national finals. In the TAT, there is the senior division, a 36- to 50-year-old division, a 35-and-under age division, and two handicap divisions – one a 219 average score and under and one a 189 average and under.
Each division produces one winner, and the final match serves as a final showdown for the five division winners. Remarkably, three of the five finalists were from Kokomo and traveled with him to the tournament.
“Out of our group of six or seven, there were three of us that made the finals this year, so it’s always good to see some of the other guys make some money too,” Marner said. “The bowling scene around Kokomo is not quite as competitive as it used to be. Of course, I’m going back into the ‘70s and ‘80s when bowling was really big around here, but there are still some competitive guys.”
Keeping his cool really paid off, he said, and he was able to get the win because a bowler ahead of him score-wise missed two open shots in the final, leaving the door open for Marner to clinch first.
He detailed the game down the stretch and said it’s important to always stay ready if an opportunity presents itself.
“To be honest with you, through the first eight frames looking at the scoreboard, I’m thinking ‘OK, everybody’s playing for second place’ because there was another guy who was just bowling really well. He was well out in front of the rest of us. Matter of fact, going into the ninth frame, he was on pace to shoot 270, and I wasn’t second highest with a pace to shoot 233. And he actually went back-to-back opens in the ninth and 10th, to actually go from first all the way to third,” Marner said.
At this level, Marner said it’s important to not leave any pins standing because the level of talent will quickly come back to haunt competitors. He felt fortunate to get the win and happy he put enough pressure on the first-place holder to get him rattled.
Consistency is key, he said. There’s a pre-shot routine, and everyone’s is different. Going through that every time is crucial, and the timing between the first step and the last has to be there for the shot to be executed properly. It’s a streaky game, he said, and bowlers can get hot or cold for weeks at a time.
Keeping this routine is easy when bowling as often as Marner, who said he tries to bowl two or three weeks per month. On average, he estimated he participates in 35 tournaments per year, ranging from city tournaments to state and out-of-state events.
Marner said he’ll tuck the money away for safekeeping but might use some of it to help fund future trips to tournaments. Marner said he has some tournaments coming up in the next couple of weeks to win, so it’s on to the next one.
But as far as the TAT goes, there’s one national champion, and he’s from right here in Kokomo.