Myton resident Jim Marcellin competes at the 36h Annual Canyonlands Classic Bowling Tournament on Saturday, June 14. The tournament runs for the four weekends in June and attracts bowlers from all over the region. Marcellin has been coming to Moab for this tournament for the past 15 years and says wants to keep coming as long as he can. [Photo by Bethany Blitz / Moab Sun News]

Gravel Pit Lanes is hosting the 36th Annual Canyonlands Classic Bowling Tournament this month. The tournament runs each weekend in June and hosts competitors from all over the region. The competition is divided into three categories: teams, doubles, and singles. Scoring is based on an average of three games and results are posted at the end of each day. There are cash prizes for first through third place of each division.

“So many people come (to the tournament), so we try to thin it out by spreading it across four weekends,” Gravel Pit Lanes manager Aimee Hutchinson said. “There are so many people that not everyone can come on the same weekend.”

Hutchinson said the Canyonlands Classic is the second-largest bowling tournament in Utah. Moab has hosted the tournament all 36 years and Gravel Pit Lanes has hosted it for the past 15 years since it opened. Their goal for this year is to have 50 teams compete.

“We want to reach a wide range of bowlers all over and we hope to have a great turnout,” Hutchinson said.

This is Hutchinson’s first year officiating the tournament. She is responsible for registering competitors, entering scores, and distributing the prizes.

“I like it because I like to learn new things,” she said. “It’s a good experience and I get to work with all the people.”

Local bowler Jess Nation has been competing in this tournament since it started in 1978. Last year he placed first in the doubles competition with his son and has placed many times throughout the years.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “I like the competitive and social aspects of it. You always see some of the same people, it’s like a family reunion.”

Nation got his start bowling as a teenager when he joined the high school league. He went on to be a professional bowler for 30 years. In order to be a pro, one must bowl an average of 200 for two years.

“I sure wasn’t a famous PBA member (Professional Bowling Association),” he said. “But I bowled with all of them.”

Nation quit the pro league when he turned 60 because he felt he wasn’t as competitive. Since then, he has competed in many senior tournaments and always competes in the Canyonlands Classic.

“The thing about bowling is doing the same thing every time,” he said.

Dan Murillo has been coming to the tournament from Grand Junction, Colo. for the past four years. He is currently placed first in the men’s single handicapped division. The handicapped division means a bowler’s score is averaged based on regulations provided by the U.S. Bowling Congress; the scratch division calculates a bowler’s total point flat out.

“I keep coming back because of the good food, it’s a good place to bowl, and there are good people here,” Murillo said.

Erik and Wyndee Hansen took ownership of Gravel Pit Lanes on Jan 1. They have already put in a new Juke Box and soon plan to add more pool and foosball tables. They plan to host pool and foosball tournaments in the near future. Eventually, the couple envisions putting in a sports bar for people to enjoy.

“We have a wide range of activities for adults down to kids,” Hutchinson said.

Gravel Pit Lanes features “Rock n’ Bowl” every Saturday night. People can bowl under cosmic lights for $15 for as many games as one can play from 8 to 11 p.m. They are also promoting their “Kids Bowl Free” summer special.

Gravel Pit Lanes is located at 1078 E. Mill Creek Drive. For more information about current or future promotions, call 435-259-4748.

“I keep coming back because of the good food, it’s a good place to bowl, and there are good people here.”

What: “Rock ‘N Bowl”bowling under cosmic lights

When: Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m.

Where: Gravel Pit Lanes, 1078 E. Mill Creek Drive. Phone: 435-259-4748

Cost: $15 for as many games as one can play during the three hours

Gravel Pit hosts Utah’s second-largest bowling tournament each weekend in June