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Ray Torres claims second straight West Coast Senior Tour bowling championship

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Through the years, Ray Torres of Thousand Palms has noted, he’s had several near-misses in his bid for West Coast Senior Tour bowling titles.

But not lately.

“I’ve now broken out,” said Torres with a smile.

On Saturday, the right-handed Torres turned in a dominating performance en route to claiming the championship of the WCST 60-and-older tournament at Buena Lanes in Ventura.

It was the second straight WCST title for the 63-year-old Torres, who claimed the WCST championship in Laughlin, Nev., last month.

“Both times I was the top qualifier and was undefeated in the finals,” glowed Torres, who picked up $700 Saturday for his third career WCST championship. “Things are clicking for me.”

It’s been two years since a WCST champion had successfully defended his title. And no bowler has won three straight WCST titles since Vaughn Doody of Las Vegas pulled off that feat in 2009.

Torres, who won his first WCST title in 2011 in Laughlin, will have an opportunity to duplicate Doody’s performance when the tour heads to Henderson, Nev., for its next event in September. Torres said he will take part in the Henderson tournament.

Torres did not have an easy road to the championship of the Ventura tournament, but he breezed through most of his matches.

First, Torres scorched a 1995 for his eight games (249.4 average) during the qualifying round, tops in the 36-player field.

He then advanced to the double-elimination finals, which included the top eight qualifiers.

Torres won his first three matches in the championship bracket, including a 216-196 victory over Kevin Gannon of Lakewood, the tour’s top money winner. Torres then drew Gannon in the championship match after Gannon survived the consolation bracket to set up a showdown of ace bowlers for the tournament title.

The left-handed Gannon, who bowled a perfect game in the consolation bracket, needed to beat Torres in two games to win the title because he had already suffered a loss.

But Torres, who was “locked in” all day, removed any suspense with a runaway 257-217 victory over Gannon, who finished the tournament in second place and picked up $600.

“We’re good friends,” said Torres about Gannon, who won his WCST-high 43rd title in February. “I’ve competed against him through a lot of years. I respect him greatly. His record is legendary.”

Sonny Pollard of Bakersfield finished third and won $500 and Larry Gray of Torrance was fourth and picked up $400. Pollard gave Torres his toughest test in the championship bracket, losing 238-231.

The rest of the top eight included Stan Winters of Simi Valley ($300), Mike Rick of Redlands ($300), Bob Brady of Santa Monica ($225) and Craig Kisro of Northridge ($225). Kisro won a WCST tournament title earlier in the year at La Habra.

For more information, call Dick Sanders, the tour’s owner and director, at 760-363-6064.

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