Multi-platinum, GRAMMY Award nominated country musician Jimmie Allen wore a yellow and black jersey with “be alright” inscribed on his chest. Those words represent the lead-off track of his most recent album, Tulip Drive, which he performed live in front of the Bowlero Matthews crowd, and his bowling mentality.
“You might have one bad frame, let it go,” Allen said. “It’ll be alright.”
Those words proved prophetic as Allen and his doubles partner Sean Rash overcame a trio of 10-pin leaves to emerge with the title at the first-ever Jimmie Allen PBA Challenge.
First, Allen and Rash took down the eclectic duo of Hannibal Buress and Ronnie Russell 195-142. They then outlasted the burly brothers, Terrell Owens and AJ Johnson, 177-173 to take home the win.
“With us being a doubles team, you win and lose together,” Rash said. “I’ve had a lot of success with double partners. This one means a lot. It’s very, very special and we’re looking forward to next year. There will be more to go.”
“I feel like I started both games off strong,” Allen said. “Towards the end, I kind of fell off a little bit. Sean, being the professional he is, did what he did. He was the closer. He picked it up for us and got us a win.”
Entering the 10th frame of the final match, Rash needed a mark and six pins. The 38’ pattern, designed with input from Allen himself, played trickier than previous celebrity tournament patterns — exactly how Allen wanted it.
A 10-pin conversion and nine pins on Rash’s fill secured the win for the host team.
“I’ve made (the 10-pin) a thousand times before,” Rash said. “I’ve missed them before, too. You learn from failure. You keep grinding. You keep giving yourself opportunities. Jimmie gave me an opportunity and that’s what we did.”
While Rash’s 10-pin conversion in the 10th frame secured the win, Johnson’s missed 10-pin in the 8th frame perhaps spelled his team’s defeat. After starting the match with a strike, Johnson left a 7-pin, 8-pin and two 10-pins in his final four frames.
Owens and Johnson took care of Nelly and Kyle Troup in their first match 185-164.
Following the semifinal matches, Chris Young, Neon Union and Allen took to the stage. The concert preceded the Celebrity Super Clash, where a cast of 14 music icons, present and past PBA stars, FOX Sports talent and an NFL Hall of Famer competed in a one-ball, roll-off competition.
The PBA Jr.’s first ambassador, the 13-year-old, two-handed Bella Love Castillo, kicked off the marathon with an emphatic strike. Her new best friend, Nelly, followed with a 7-count, but was soon spared as Josh Sims and Leo Brooks rolled gutter balls and went out in the first round.
Allen didn’t last much longer. To close Round 2, he bowled while holding his daughter, Naomi, in his left arm; the ball, however, slid into the right gutter and Allen took permanent residence on the couch.
In the fourth round, Nelly, Shannon Spake and Hannibal Buress appeared destined for elimination as only EJ Tackett, who Randy Pedersen called a top-three player on the planet, stepped up needing just seven pins.
Tackett, perhaps captivated by Nelly’s eccentric distraction techniques, missed right. The ball never saw any friction and knocked over just five pins, reprieving Spake, Buress and Nelly, much to the latter’s delight.
Nelly took advantage of his first golden opportunity — a second came from Bob Learn Jr. in Round 9 — and survived until the final two rounds along with Castillo and Owens. Ultimately, Nelly’s fortune expired in the 11th round with a five-count.
Castillo opened Round 12 with a strike, forcing Owens to match. Owens had struck as much as any player in the field, but his ball saw too much friction in the final round. His 3-10 leave handed the Celebrity Super Clash title to Castillo, the “13-year-old shark,” as Nelly dubbed her.
“Honestly, this is probably the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my career,” Allen said. “Bowling is a sport that I respect and I love. I’m just trying to be an ambassador for the sport of bowling.”
JIMMIE ALLEN PBA CHALLENGE RESULTS
Semifinal 1: Terrell Owens and AJ Johnson def. Nelly and Kyle Troup, 185-164
Semifinal 2: Jimmie Allen and Sean Rash def. Hannibal Buress and Ronnie Russell, 195-142
Finals: Jimmie Allen and Sean Rash def. Terrell Owens and AJ Johnson, 177-173
CELEBRITY SUPER CLASH RESULTS
Round 1: Bella Love Castillo X, Nelly 7, Josh Sims 0, Terrell Owens X, Shannon Spake 3, Amon Nehesi X, Hannibal Buress X, Devin Gardner X, Leo Brooks 0, Andrew Millsaps 1, Phil Parsons 6, Bob Learn Jr. X, EJ Tackett X, Jimmie Allen 7
Josh Sims and Leo Brooks eliminated
Round 2: Bella Love Castillo X, Nelly 7, Terrell Owens X, Shannon Spake 5, Amon Nehesi 9, Hannibal Buress 4, Devin Gardner 9, Andrew Millsaps 9, Phil Parsons 7, Bob Learn Jr. X, EJ Tackett X, Jimmie (and Naomi) Allen 0
Jimmie Allen eliminated
Round 3: Bella Love Castillo 6, Nelly 5, Terrell Owens X, Shannon Spake 7, Amon Nehesi 3, Hannibal Buress 9, Devin Gardner 1, Andrew Millsaps 9, Phil Parsons 8, Bob Learn Jr. X, EJ Tackett 9
Devin Gardner eliminated
Round 4: Bella Love Castillo X, Nelly 6, Terrell Owens 7, Shannon Spake 6, Amon Nehesi 7, Hannibal Buress 6, Andrew Millsaps 8, Phil Parsons 8, Bob Learn Jr. 8, EJ Tackett 5
EJ Tackett eliminated
Round 5: Bella Love Castillo 8, Nelly 9, Terrell Owens 5, Shannon Spake 0, Amon Nehesi X, Hannibal Buress 3, Andrew Millsaps 7, Phil Parsons 7, Bob Learn Jr. 5
Shannon Spake eliminated
Round 6: Bella Love Castillo 9, Nelly 8, Terrell Owens X, Amon Nehesi 8, Hannibal Buress 1, Andrew Millsaps 9, Phil Parsons X, Bob Learn Jr. 8
Hannibal Buress eliminated
Round 7: Bella Love Castillo 9, Nelly 9, Terrell Owens X, Amon Nehesi 6, Andrew Millsaps 7, Phil Parsons 9, Bob Learn Jr. X
Amon Nehesi eliminated
Round 8: Bella Love Castillo 6, Nelly 7, Terrell Owens 2, Andrew Millsaps 1, Phil Parsons 7, Bob Learn Jr. X
Andrew Millsaps eliminated
Round 9: Bella Love Castillo X, Nelly 8, Terrell Owens X, Phil Parsons 9, Bob Learn Jr. 7
Bob Learn Jr. eliminated
Round 10: Bella Love Castillo 9, Nelly 8, Terrell Owens 8, Phil Parsons 6
Phil Parsons eliminated
Round 11: Bella Love Castillo X, Nelly 5, Terrell Owens 9
Round 12: Bella Love Castillo X, Terrell Owens 8
Terrell Owens eliminated — Bella Love Castillo wins
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If you ever doubted Allen’s commitment to bowling, his pandemic pastime turned life obsession, consider this:
Back in August, Allen bowled the Bud Light Challenge in Rochester, N.Y. He competed against PBA athletes Sam Cooley, Dan MacLelland, Michael Martell and Tim Pfiefer, plus dozens of the Northeast’s top talents.
After the tournament, he said he took a plane down to Chattanooga, Tenn. to perform at his show and attend a celebrity basketball game. From there, he said he flew to another bowling tournament in Pennsylvania before flying down to Florida for another show.
Allen’s all-in. You can’t pry him from the lanes. He said he was once late to a meet and greet because he was bowling: “We had this game going and I couldn’t get away.”
The demands of a cross-country music tour have forced him to cut back his practice schedule. The 40-hour weeks at the lanes will have to wait until after the upcoming 43-city THE DENIM & RHINESTONES TOUR with Carrie Underwood, on which he is special guest for all dates.
Like any true bowler, he’s always got a stash of equipment stowed in the trunk. Allen said he has a dozen balls stashed on the tour bus and estimated there are about 62 more at home.
It’s been a meteoric rise for Allen within bowling, but he’s just getting started. Like any relative newcomer, he’s still learning to post shots and how to read ball motion.
Allen paid his dues in the music industry. Years of fine-tuning his sound preceded his big break; he’s willing to commit to the same grind in bowling.
“These first few events, I’m just looking forward to showing up, trying my best and learning and watching everyone around me,” he said.
While Allen has a few PBA regional tournaments marked on his calendar, he isn’t expecting to start racking up Ws right away. In fact, he has been pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie within bowling.
“Normally during competition, people don’t help,” he said. “But I’ve had so many people at these tournaments give me advice and help me out. I think it’s just because they see the love I have for this game.”
Allen said his songs “Best Shot,” “Good Times Roll” and “Be Alright” best exemplify his relationship with bowling: “You might have one bad frame, let it go. It’ll be alright.”
Jimmie Allen wants to give the PBA Tour a chance — and he wants the next generation to do the same.
“I want bowling to be as popular and as respected as basketball, football and baseball,” Allen said. “I want this to do something kids talk about in school about what they want to be when they grow up.”