Not bowling at all helped Craig Berschwinger find his groove on the lanes once again.
The 30-year-old Guilderland native and current Rotterdam resident decided he was a little burned out from bowling last year, so he took the entire season off. That’s hard to believe, because Berschwinger has been among the top bowlers in the Capital Region for the last decade.
But the time off — and some help with new equipment — has re-energized Berschwinger, who is off to a great start.
Last Saturday night, Berschwinger fired a 1,070 four-game series in the Vitalo Classic at Sportsman’s Bowl. He followed it up with a sizzling 825 triple in the DV Greco Insurance City League Monday night at Towne Bowling Academy.
Those are some impressive numbers at two different bowling centers.
“I was a little surprised to be bowling that well, but it feels good,” said Berschwinger.
“I took a year off from bowling and kind of cleared my mind. I don’t want to say I was bored, but you get into certain routines, and I didn’t have that spark or drive to bowl every week. I wanted to take some time off and see if I still wanted to bowl again.”
When Berschwinger decided to get back into the game, he hooked up with area bowling standout Jamie Diamond, who he used to bowl with in the Vitalo Open Classic league a few years ago.
“Jamie was very valuable in helping me out. He helped me a little, and took me to Warren Guernsey’s pro shop, who was very helpful, as well,” said Berschwinger. “Warren was very patient with me. We ended up finding me a new ball that fit my game.”
Berschwinger now throws a Storm Virtual Gravity, and he loves it.
“Overall, it really gives me more forgiveness on the lanes. I throw the ball fairly hard to begin with, and I need a ball that won’t overreact on me. So far, everything is going great.”
Berschwinger is not a numbers guy, but he said he owns about 30 perfect games and 30 800 triples in his career. His high triple overall is an 857.
Dave Mennillo, the secretary of the Vitalo league, is one of the top numbers guys in the area, and he gave me some nice stats of which Berchwinger wasn’t aware.
In the five years that he has competed in the Vitalo Classic, Berschwinger is averaging about 235. He won the team title the last year he bowled before taking a year off. In Vitalo competition alone, he has five perfect games and eight 800 triples, with a high of 848. He also has 58 900 series, and 21 1,000 series, with a high of 1,009.
“I’ve bowled in some pretty good leagues down through the years,” Berschwinger said. “I used to bowl in the Monday Night NFL at Town ’N Country Lanes, as well as the Doubles league there and the Thursday Night Classic league over there.
“This year, I’m sticking with just the Vitalo and the City League. I really like bowling in the City League, because they have a great crop of bowlers there. Bowling with so many high-quality bowlers gets you into the game.”
Berschwinger said he would eventually like to compete in more scratch tournaments, but time won’t permit that right now. He plans on marrying longtime girlfriend Jenna Govel in February, and he works weekends for the Golub Distribution Center.
“I’m just having a lot of fun with the game right now. I’m glad I came back,” he said.
NEW LANES FOR UNCLE SAM
It’s tough to even think about a new bowling center in this economy, but Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy has the next best thing.
Uncle Sam, which has 26 lanes, installed a new set of permalanes to replace their old wood lanes. The project, which will cost around a quarter of a million dollars when completely finished, has improved scoring dramatically in just the first month of the season.
One example is the Capcom team, which competes in the Uncle Sam Classic league, one of Uncle Sam’s top leagues on Tuesday night. The trio of P.J. Nadeau, Kyle Brown and Drew Smarro is averaging 238, 243 and 243, respectively.
“The scores are very high,” said proprietor Tom Walsh Jr. while giving me a tour of the place on Thursday. “If people aren’t seeing their scores improve on these lanes, they need to perhaps do some maintenance on their bowling balls. On this kind of surface, balls with higher friction seem to work better than polished balls, because you get a more controlled hook without a big flip at the end. The carry has been amazing so far.
“One great thing about the permalanes compared to wood is that it takes a lot longer before you have to make adjustments. Plus, they seem to work better for bowlers who don’t have that much speed. The ball picks up speed on its own when you need it the most — down the lane.”
Walsh explained that the project was done in three parts.
“They took out the old wood in the first 12 feet of the lanes and installed Mendix, which helps to cushion the force of the ball when it lands on the lanes,” Walsh said. “The last 18 feet of the lanes all the way to the pin deck was overlay. We have completely new pin decks, and unlike most lanes, the pins aren’t just set on a painted circle. There is actually a small hole for each pin to stand on, and it actually helps the carry.”
Walsh said he also has changed the color theme for the lanes with glow in the dark colors that match the rest of the decor.
“It was more expensive than I ever thought it would be, but it’s going to be worth it,” he said. “We still have more things to do, like getting new table tops. We’ve already painted the ceiling.”
Walsh said lanes one through eight were finished first. Then lanes 9-16 and finally lanes 10-26. Each set of lanes took four days to install.
“Everyone seems to like the scoring,” said Walsh. “Put it this way, we had our first 300 game when the first eight lanes were installed. We have six perfect games already, and that’s about double what we had the same time last year.”
Tommy Jones was able to keep his emotions in check long enough to win the DSD Sam Ho Korea Cup International Open at Homeplus Asiad Bowling Center last week.
Jones, a former Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year, was dealing with the death of his father, who passed away prior to the beginning of the Korea Cup. Jack Allen Jones, 70, succumbed to his illness five days earlier in South Carolina. Yet the younger Jones battled through his emotional pain to claim the $30 million Korean (approximately $27,000 U.S. currency) top prize.
The Korea Cup featured a field of more than 200 bowlers comprised of men and women Korean PBA professionals, Japan PBA bowlers, and a contingent of 11 American PBA stars.
Meanwhile, the PBA World Series of Bowling is set for Nov. 4-20 at South Point Lanes in Las Vegas. Four first-time PBA Tour title winners and 49 exempt players will headline the event.
STRIKES AND SPARES
* Town ’N Country Lanes will host the first tournament of the Northern Bowlers Association season Oct. 9 at 9:30 a.m.
* Chris Fedden defeated John Nieckarz in the finals of the NorthEast Senior Tournaments stop at Sunset Recreation last week. Fedden earned $300, and Nieckarz took home $120. Dale Christiansen ($120), Ron Gardner ($120) and Jim Burton ($75) also cashed. The next NEST event will be Oct. 9 at Boulevard Bowl at 10:30 a.m.Any bowler who brings in a “new” bowler to the tournament will get a 20 percent discount off the $50 entry fee.
* The Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour begins its second season Saturday at Spare Time-Latham at 12:30 p.m. More than $6,000 in scholarships was awarded last season. Entry fee will be $30 if paid in advance and $32 if paid on site. There also will be a $15 CDYST membership fee. Qualifying will be four games, switching pairs every game. When Junior Gold qualifiers are used, the qualifying will be six games. One in five entrants earn a scholarship prize.
* Qualifying for the first Huck Finn/Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York scratch singles tournament of the season will be Oct. 15, at 3 p.m. at Spare Time-East Greenbush and then 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 16 at Spare Time-Clifton Park.
* Jeremy Trembley rolled a 256 triplicate for a 768 series in the Glenville Bowlers Club.
* The Schenectady/Scotia Women’s Bowling Association will conduct its the 25th Senior Singles tournament on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Burnt Hills Lanes at 2 p.m. Entry forms are available from your league secretary or by contacting Sandy Knabner at 399-3759. Entries close Oct. 8.
* The Schenectady-Scotia 500 Club will conduct its Trick or Treat No-Tap Singles Tournament on Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. at Towne Bowling Academy. Current members received their entry form. If you need an entry form, contact Marie Moorhead at 399-3063.
* Sportsman’s Bowl’s Adult-Child Have-A-Ball fall league starts Oct. 9 at 9:30 a.m. The league runs 10 weeks with three games a week. Entry fee is $20 per team per week. The youth bowler will get a resin or plastic ball. Without a ball, the cost per team is $14 per week. Call 355-4330 for more information.
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