By Milt Northrop
NEWS BOWLING COLUMNIST
Make a printout from the United States Bowling Congress website of Jim Reese Jr.’s career achievements and it runs seven pages. And that doesn’t include any accomplishments prior to 1999, which are not in the computer.
Reese’s achievements on the lanes are voluminous, to be sure.
Earlier this month, he bowled his 100th career 300 game at AMF Lancaster Lanes, where he runs the pro shop. Just last Wednesday, he bowled No. 101 in a parent-child league with his daughter, Taylor, who is 16 and bowls at Cardinal O’Hara.
“To have it happen bowling with my family was kind of nice,” Reese said of his most recent perfect game.
Besides Taylor, son Ryan, 14, who will enter O’Hara in September, is another bowler in the family.
“My wife hasn’t bowled in five or so years but she has five 300s to her credit,” Reese said.
Reese, 52, remembers well his first 300 game, “Oct. 7, 1983, Manor Lanes, No. 15 and 16,” he quickly recalled.
He is not, he claims, hung up on personal statistics. “I wasn’t thinking much about it but my friends and people in the pro shop have been counting it down," he said.
He also has 65 800 series on the books. His listed high series is an 847 on Nov. 26, 2003, at Manor. The listed USBC record for career 300 games is 135 by Fero Williams of Miamisburg, Ohio. The record for 800s is 129 by Gordon Childers of Benton, Ark. Reese may not threaten those marks before he is finished but he is getting into that neighborhood, at least.
Since 1999 his lowest listed composite average is 222 for 348 games in 2004-05. This past season he averaged 233 for 84 games in the Friday Morning Eagles Doubles League and 222 for 81 games in the F&T Snow Plowing League, both at Lancaster.
Many of Reese’s 300s have come at Lancaster. But he has recorded them at nearly every bowling house in Greater Buffalo. Long gone Roc-Mar as well as Transit and Thruway are notable exceptions.
“Roc-Mar was known as a nemesis for lefties. I had two 289s there,” he said. “I never bowled at Transit or Thruway for anything. I’ve had 300s at houses that are closed like Suburban, Amherst, Delaware.”
Reese bowled at Kenmore East and went on to Niagara County Community College when it rivaled Erie Community College as a junior college powerhouse. He won the singles at the 1982 NJCAA Tournament and made the NJCAA All-America team. A year later, he and his Buffalo State teammates Fred Catalano, Fred Cavese, Pat Stefanik, Kevin Quick and Tony Papagallo won the 1983 national collegiate championship.
Reese started bowling when he was 5, tagging along with his parents, who both were bowlers. He credits his high school coach Bill Truman for helping most in developing his game. “He changed my game around from a five-step approach to four steps.”
He earned Bowler of the Year honors 13 times in the Tonawandas Association and once in the Greater Buffalo USBC Association.
Reese once thought about turning pro in the 1980s when the PBA Tour was at its peak. However, the opportunity to run the pro shop at Suburban Lanes was offered and he decided that offered a more steady income and stable future.
Reese was at Suburban for 20 years until it closed and then was at Rose Bowl for another three years. He has been at Lancaster for 10 years.
Young bowling stars plentiful
Tom Baker is an established competitor on the PBA Senior Tour, now called PBA50, and, my gosh, Jack Jurek is now a senior pro. Brad Angelo devotes a lot of attention these days to managing his lanes in Lockport. Liz Johnson and Joe Ciccone are middle-agers.
Some of the Buffalo area’s greatest bowling stars, like all of us, are getting older, but there is still plenty of talent in the pipeline. That’s if the events of the first three days of the 50th annual George A. Obenauer Masters Tournament are any indication.
Three teenage stars were the talk of the tournament in qualifying. Chad Mee, a 17-year-old junior from Frontier High, won the Pete Parisi Award as the top qualifier. Mee topped the field of 90 with a 863 four-game set the first night and finished with a 1,659. He did cool off a bit in the first match-play round with a 579-549 victory over veteran Tony Verdi, 68, who was an Obenauer winner back in 1972, 23 years before Mee was born.
But the highest four-game set of the qualifying was turned in by another 17-year-old, Melanie Hannon, a senior at Maryvale. Her first opponent in match play Wednesday was Andrew Herbert, 18, of Eden. Herbert won, but Hannon shook off any first-match jitters and squeaked past Matt Zasowski by three pins in the first round of elimination matches.
And, Marion Singleton, a former Lockport High star in her mid 20s, turned in an 840 the second night of qualifying.
Consider, too, that two of Western New York’s most promising pros, Ryan Ciminelli and John Szczerbinski, are both in their mid 20s. They are not entered in the Obie this year.
Jurek 17th in senior debut
Speaking of Jurek, his debut on the PBA50 Tour was a modest success.
He finished 17th in the Dayton Classic in Kettering, Ohio, just missing the cut of 16 for the final match play round. Jurek had a 3-5 match-play record and had 5,354 total pins for 24 games. He shot 3.596 (224.75) for 16 games of qualifying. Jurek collected $1,200 for the four-day event.
Buffalo native Tom Baker of King, N.C., finished 13th with a 9-7 match-play record and 7,226 pins for 32 games. Baker collected $1,375.