Jon Rakoski wins 2024 USBC Senior Masters and collects first senior major of the season


LAS VEGAS – Jon Rakoski of Estero, Florida, earned his second career senior title and first senior major championship by winning the 2024 United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters Sunday at Sam’s Town Bowling Center.

Rakoski, a 52-year-old right-hander, defeated Michael Bailey of Carrollton, Texas, 278-200, to claim his second victory on the Professional Bowlers Association50 Tour, the $20,000 first-place check and the moniker of “major champion.”

Rakoski, who led the event after the completion of the first squad on the first day of qualifying on Tuesday, never imagined he would end up in the winner’s circle.

“I really can’t put this feeling into words,” said Rakoski. “People back home tell you all the time that you’re such a good bowler, but I don’t necessarily think of myself that way. There are way too many great bowlers out here, so if you would’ve told me at the beginning of the week that I would be holding the trophy at the end, I just don’t think that way. But it’s certainly the biggest win of my career.”

Bailey, the lone left-hander in the final five, came into the title match on a hot streak. The 54-year-old qualified for the stepladder finals as the No. 4 seed and promptly rolled games of 242, 277 and 269 (788 series) to win each of his three matches on the way to the title tilt against Rakoski.

Rakoski and Bailey each started the title match with a double, but a couple of splits on the left lane (lane 19) would be Bailey’s undoing. In the third frame, he left the 4-6-7-8-10 “Greek Church” split. In the seventh frame, it was the 4-6-7-10 “Big Four” split that resulted in another open frame.

“Lane 19 was tricky for me all week,” Bailey said. “That said, the first split I left was just a really bad shot. I probably got a little fast and missed my target three boards right. The second split, I actually thought I threw that one pretty well. But, with the way Jon bowled all week, I knew it was going to be darn near impossible beat him, which proved to be the case.”

Rakoski followed his opening double with seven more strikes and took a perfect game into the 10th frame. He left a ringing 10 pin on his first shot in the 10th, then got nine on his fill shot to finish at 278.

Rakoski gave credit to his tour rep, Jeff Johnson, for drilling up a ball earlier in the morning that made all the difference.

“Jeff said he woke up around 5:30 this morning and was playing out all the scenarios in his head, and he felt like I might have a hole in my arsenal,” Rakoski said. “So, he decided to drill me a ball earlier this morning. I used that ball, a Max Bias, on the right lane because it’s a little stronger than the Extreme Envy I was using on the left lane. The right lane was tighter, so that Max Bias turned out to be the perfect fit."

Rakoski never bowled on the PBA Tour as he had a 30-year career in the banking industry. However, once he retired and turned 50, his wife convinced him to give the PBA50 Tour a try.

“I have to give a lot of credit to my wife Cheryl for me even being out here,” Rakoski said. “She’s the one who pushed me to do it. Then, I was able to win my first title last year (PBA50 Monacelli Championship) and now this. It’s really unbelievable.”

Up until the title match, it was the Michael Bailey show. He survived a pair of 4-6-7-10 splits, one of which he converted, to defeat No. 5 seed Andres Gomez of Davie, Florida, in the opening match of the stepladder. Bailey struck on every shot other than those two splits to post a 242 score. Gomez, finishing last, got up in his 10th frame needing the first strike to earn the win, but he left a 10 pin and finished with 236.

Match 2 featured Bailey against No. 3 seed and defending champion John Janawicz of Winter Haven, Florida. Janawicz was impressive as he struck on every shot except for single-pin spare conversions of the 10 pin in Frames 3 and 4, and on his fill shot, where he got nine. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough. Bailey converted a 6 pin for a spare in the first frame, then rattled off nine strikes in a row before leaving a 7-10 split on this second shot in the 10th. His final score of 277 was 10 pins better than Janawicz’s 267.

Up next for a Bailey was No. 2 seed Randy Weiss of Columbia, South Carolina. Weiss, who turned 50 in December, was bowling this event for the first time. He started the semifinal match in fine fashion, converting a spare in Frame 1 before putting together five consecutive strikes.

Weiss held a slight lead heading into the seventh frame, but left the 3-4-6-7-9-10 split, which he couldn’t convert. Meanwhile, Bailey would strike on 10 of his 12 shots on the way to a 269-218 win that would set up the final match versus Rakoski.

“Obviously, with Mike shooting nearly 800 coming into the match against me, I knew I had to bowl well,” Rakoski said. “So, that Greek Church he left early on kind of helped relax me a little bit, and then I knew I was in pretty good shape after he left the Big Four later in the match.”

Bailey received $12,000 for finishing second; Weiss earned $9,000 for third; Janawicz took home $7,500 for fourth and Gomez pocketed $6,000 for fifth.  

The 2024 Senior Masters started with 312 players competing in three five-game qualifying blocks to determine the top 64 players in the double-elimination bracket. All bracket matches leading up to the stepladder featured a three-game total-pinfall format.

The senior circuit is now headed to Greeley, Colorado, for the Senior U.S. Open. Competition in the second major championship of the senior season begins June 13 and, like the Senior Masters, BowlTV will provide live coverage of the event from start to finish.

For more information about the USBC Senior Masters, visit