To borrow and take liberties from one of Walter Cronkite’s famous postscripts:
“What kind of a bowling year was it? A year like all years, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times.”
A glimpse back at the bowling scene revealed that it was indeed a year of triumph and sadness in the sport.
It began on a sad note in early January with the death of PBA Hall of Famer Don Carter at age 85 in Florida. Carter was remembered here for his many appearances in competition and clinics, especially by his friend, bowling rival and contemporary Jim Schroeder of the Town of Tonawanda.
Later in the year, we lost some popular local bowling figures such as Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Famer Chet Mazur, and women’s bowling contributors and leaders Joan Ast and Stell Kolis, who were Hall of Famers themselves for meritorious service to the sport.
Some other highlights:
• Twenty-year-old Josh Broad bowled the first 300 in the 60-year history of Strikers Lanes in West Seneca.
• Michelle Sterner of Niagara Falls won the Western New York Queens Tournament (Division 1) at Rapids Lanes. Later in the year, Holly Filarecki of Cheektowaga won the New York State Queens Title at Sunset Lanes in Kirkwood.
• John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda won a match he probably will never forget when he eliminated Walter Ray Williams Jr., the PBA’s all-time leader in titles won, 730-673, in the USBC Masters in Reno, Nev.
• Tom Harnisch, a local teen phenom in the 1950s who went on to be a charter member of the PBA and the first Buffalo bowler to win a PBA Tour title, was included in the 2012 GBUSBCA Hall of Fame Class.
• Tour pro Jack Jurek of Lackawanna won his fourth Pete Parisi Award as the top qualifier for the George A. Obenauer Masters Tournament. When it was over, however, it was another pro, Brad Angelo of Lockport, who ended up with the winner’s trophy, his fourth, defeating Szczerbinski in the title match.
• There was a WNY flavor when the USBC announced its Hall of Fame class which included the late Kerm Helmer, former ECC coach, and Buffalo native Tom Baker, a PBA Hall of Famer and former PBA World Champion.
• The Wangler family added another to the 300-game club when Kimberly bowled her first perfecto at Classic Lanes, following in the footsteps of her dad, Jim Jr., and brother, Jim III.
• The Abbott Lanes four-man team of Geno Walh, Joe DiNardo, Joe Wagner and Troy Kruszka bowled a 3,057 series, third best in the nation according to the USBC. It included a 300 games by Kruszka and a 1,082 team single, which works out to a 270 average per bowler.
• Harnisch, Dick Hapeman, Debby Janora, Brad Kiszewski, Sally Nelsen, Tony Sorrento and retired News bowling columnist Norm Warner were enshrined in the GBUSBC Hall of Fame Nov. 24 at Samuel’s Grande Manor.
The year was capped by Angelo’s victory in the PBA’s Viper Championship, an event in the World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas, Nev.
Angelo, the top qualifier, defeated Mika Koivuniemi in the title match, 233-232, that actually was bowled in early November but not shown on ESPN until last Sunday.
It certainly was more dramatic and exciting that the Bills-Miami Dolphins game which was on opposite the bowling.
Angelo won it with two strikes and an eight-count in the 10th frame after Koivuniemi left the door open. After a fifth strike in the 10th, Mika needed nine pins and spare to shut out Angelo. He left the 3-6-9-10 to give Angelo a chance to win with a double and eight pins.
“Mika gave me a chance, but I feel for him,” Angelo said. “I’ve bowled against him for 25 years and he’s about as classy as they come. He made some great shots to virtually shut me out, and the next thing I know, he got six [pins].
“All you ever want is a chance. That’s what I kept saying to myself, give me a chance.”
It was the first Tour victory in four years for Angelo, whose other title came in the Pepsi Viper Championship in 2008 in Omaha, Neb.
“It’s been a struggle, but today I feel great. Great,” Angelo said when it was over. “Hopefully I’ve silenced some of the people who decided that my career is over. Hopefully, I’ve shoved that right in their mouths.”
Walter Ray fans will be able to see their man in action in the finals of the Chameleon Championship on ESPN at 1 p.m. Sunday. Jason Belmonte is the top qualifier for the stepladder finals.
Rathbun takes Kreger ‘A’ title
Chris Rathbun defeated top qualifier Ray Bellet in the stepladder final to win the Division A (186-210 average) of the 21st Keith Kreger Memorial Singles Shootout of the Tonawandas USBC Assocition. A field of 29 competed. Paul Wasiewicz defeated top qualifier Danita Harrison, 257-208, in the Division B final (185 average or less).