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Professional bowlers visit Fairway Lanes in Centralia for clinic

May 1—Days after winning the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tournament of Champions just outside Akron, Ohio, Marshall Kent found himself at Fairway Lanes in Centralia.

For Kent, a native of Yakima, the tour through Washington represented something of a homecoming. He was joined at Fairway Lanes by E. J. Tackett, a fellow member of the PBA.

"I just think it's really exciting for a small town to have two professional bowlers here," Fairway Lanes co-owner Jeff Walker said.

For over three hours, the pair of professionals were on hand to talk shop, offer tips and aid aspiring bowlers from throughout the Northwest. There were nearly 200 attendees. While it's the first time Fairway Lanes has hosted such an event, Walker said it had wide-reaching popularity, with attendees traveling from throughout Washington and Oregon for a chance to hone their skills.

During the event, crowd questions ranged from strategy and gear to the training and practice regiment needed to compete at the highest level.

"Am I getting ready for the season? Is it offseason? Did I just get done with the tour, or am I getting ready to start the season?" Kent said of his training regiment during a question-and-answer period. "All of those are different answers."

When ramping up for the tour to start, Kent said he trains five days a week, which can mean up to 16 games a day.

"The only way to create stamina to do what you do is to do exactly what you have to do," Kent said.

For the crowd, the event offered a rare opportunity to learn from the professionals. Tackett was named the Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year during the 2012 season, while Kent took home the same award during the 2014 season.

Bowling has proven to be popular, with a poll from Ipsos showing that it was the second most popular sport to play in 2022. More than 19% of Americans bowled in 2022, which ranked just behind cornhole in popularity.

"This town has already shown a lot of interest in bowling," Walker said.

While many play the sport leisurely on a Friday night, TV viewership has increased in recent years. On Sunday, more than 600,000 people turned in to the PBA Tournament of Champions won by Kent, the third-highest viewership this year. The PBA World Championship, won by Tackett on April 20, was watched by more than 700,000 people.

"I think it's great for the sport, great for the town," Walker said of the clinic.

While nothing is set in stone, Walker said he hopes to arrange similar events in the future. Fairway Lanes is located at 1501 S. Gold St. in Centralia. For more information, visit the business's Facebook page.