SHAWNEE, Okla. – Brian Valenta is one of the few Professional Bowlers Association competitors who use the two-handed delivery.
But the 29-year-old performer from Lockport has struggled on the pro tour following a successful amateur career. Earlier this month, however, Valenta experienced his best-ever showing in a PBA event and just missed winning a title in the process.
Competing at the PBA Badger Open, Valenta went right down to the wire against Bill O'Neill in the finals. After Valenta got two strikes in the 10th frame, O'Neill duplicated that feat to claim a 243-235 victory over the seventh-year pro.
That marked the first time Valenta has made a television appearance in a PBA Tour event, on CBS Sports Network.
The Strike 'N Spare product earned his spot in the finals after beating PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber 204-190 in the semifinals. He beat Marshall Kent 236-165 in the round before that after opening with a 237-132 win over another hall of famer, Mika Koivuniemi.
Valenta had competed in four other tour stops this season but hadn't yet finished in the money before making the trip to Oklahoma. He had three top-10 finishes heading into this season, with his best-previous effort, fifth, coming at the 2011 Chameleon Open.
His $5,000 paycheck was his second-best earnings at a PBA event behind the $6,000 he won at the 2011 U.S. Open.
Valenta, a USA Junior Team member in 2003 and 2005, led Lindenwood University to the 2005 Intercollegiate title and won the singles championship the next year.