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A tale of two bowling comebacks

Barry Gurney staged a remarkable comeback in the PBA Senior Northern California Classic.
Barry Gurney staged a remarkable comeback in the PBA Senior Northern California Classic.
Courtesy of Barry Gurney family

One day after mounting a spectacular comeback to win a Southern Nevada Bowling Tournament event Sunday, Eric Forkel was explaining the circumstances behind his rally from a 100-pin deficit.

With two games left in the 10-game scratch tournament and resigned to falling short of the title, Forkel changed bowling balls and blasted scores of 248 and 234 while the leaders faltered. He won by 40 pins.

Then Forkel, a Van Nuys High graduate now living in Henderson, Nev., turned to another matter.

He talked about how he was fervently attempting to find a new date for the Barry Gurney Memorial Laughlin Cup, which had been planned for June of this year. Forkel wants to keep Gurney’s memory alive and is trying to win the sponsorship of the Professional Bowlers Assn. for a Barry Gurney regional event in Laughlin, Nev.

Gurney (shown in photo) was among the top bowlers to come out of the San Fernando Valley, racking up four national senior tour titles. Gurney, who lived in West Hills and coached dozens of local bowlers, died in July 2013 after a battle with cancer.

Gurney and Forkel, both left-handed bowlers, were extremely close. Gurney often talked about how he would bolt to Nevada whenever he would fall into a slump so he could meet up with Forkel and receive guidance on how to get back on track.

“No matter who you are, we all need help,” Gurney would say.

Knowing these two bowlers’ close friendship, it’s touching that Forkel’s stirring rally Sunday had a remarkable similarity to Gurney’s biggest comeback.

Gurney’s improbable rally came in June 2012 – one month before his birthday, his 71st.

And Forkel’s feat Sunday came one month before his birthday, his 54th.

Gurney turned in his gem in the PBA Senior Northern California Classic in Brentwood, Calif.

He had barely slipped into the finals and then was matched with Tom Carter of Rockford, Ill., in an opening-round, best-of-five-games series. Gurney scored victories of 244-196 and 235-234 in the first two games before letting down in the third game.

After opening in three of the first four frames, Gurney was sitting on a disastrous score of 44. And it didn’t seem to get much better. With three frames remaining, Gurney was down by 60 pins and planning for a fourth game.

But as Carter struggled down the stretch, Gurney got hot, nailing strikes on his last six shots.

Final score: Gurney 202, Carter 196.

Gurney got his three-game sweep.

And even though Gurney succumbed in his next match to powerful Hugh Miller of Seattle, Gurney collected in the tournament a memorable comeback.

No doubt, Eric Forkel was proud of his compadre.

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