Mark James is taking a big chance.
The effervescent left-hander known as “The General” is running his two-day tournament this weekend at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy, and he’s putting up a lot of his own money.
He’s also putting down an extremely difficult shot.
“I’m giving them two options — the left gutter and the right gutter,” James said of the inaugural General’s 2-Star Challenge, set for Saturday and Sunday.
“I wasn’t going to give out $2,500 to the winner and have them shoot 250, 250 and 250. That’s not really bowling, in my opinion. When I used to bowl 25 years ago, if you shot a 190, that was a great score. Now, people are throwing the ball and missing their mark by 10 boards, and they still score.”
James can’t bowl this season because of an injury, but he’s putting all of his energy into trying to build this tournament into a success.
“I hadn’t picked up a ball in more than a month, and I still shot 603 on this pattern, although I’m pretty good at using the gutter shot,” he said. “I think the bowlers will struggle until they get it into their heads where they have to play. If you know how to throw the ball, you should be able to make the right adjustment. But you’re not going to spray the ball 10 boards and be successful. You’ve got to be throwing at the three-board and hitting one. I actually tinkered with the shot a little, and they may have four boards to work with instead of three. You never know.”
There are two qualifying squads each day, Saturday at noon and
2 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. One in four advance on the first squad Saturday, and one in six move on in the second squad. On Sunday, one in six advance in both squads. Two-game mini-eliminators will cut the field to the eight-bowler match-play finals.
Entry fee is $80, and re-entry is $70. There are brackets and side pots available.
James is hoping for between 120 and 140 entries.
“I’ve got close to 30 people signed up already, and I’ve received calls from guys in New York City, Buffalo and New Jersey. I’m just hoping for a large local turnout, as well.
“If this tournament works out, I will probably have another at Towne Bowling Academy later in the year. But I need more than 90 or so bowlers, because of the guarantee of $2,500 on top.”
Although James isn’t bowling in a league this season because of a bad back that eventually led to a problem with his sciatic nerve, he’s been one of the top left-handers in the Capital Region for more than a decade.
“I bowled as a kid, and then when I went into the service, I didn’t bowl for about four years,” he said. “I didn’t pick up a bowling ball again until 1990. When I moved back to the East Coast, I averaged about 190-195, but then I went to Action Lanes, and averaged about 220. I averaged at least that for the next 10 years.”
James, who has 25 perfect games and nearly as many 800 triples to his credit, said his two favorite career highlights involve bowling against and meeting two of the all-time bowling greats on the pro tour.
“I remember beating Mark Roth in a PBA regional at Sportsman’s Bowl, and that was just about the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
“But the thing I remember the most is when I met Earl Anthony. I met him during the PBA Senior tournament at Clifton Park, and I stopped and had a beer with him. I was in heaven.”
WOMEN IN SPOTLIGHT
Many of the best female bowlers in the Capital Region will be competing in the Barb Leicht Bowers Ladies Classic Sunday at Towne Bowling Academy.
The Huck Finn women-only scratch event has two qualifying squads, at 9:39 and 11:45 p.m. Unlike most other Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York events, the TV finals will be taped the same day, at about 6 p.m. That show will air Nov. 27 at 11 a.m. on WXXA Fox-23.
Top prize will be $1,000, guaranteed. One in five will cash. Entry fee is $50. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7628 for more information or for reservations.
USBC ELECTS FIVE
The United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame Committee has elected five new members to the USBC Hall of Fame — two in the performance category, two in the meritorious service category and one pioneer.
Wheelchair bowler Al Uttecht of Anaheim, Calif., was elected in the pioneer category; multiple-time USBC Open Championships winners Lennie Boresch Jr. of Kenosha, Wis., and Gary Daroszewski of Franklin, Wis., were selected in the Outstanding USBC performance category; and Joan Feinblum of Santa Rosa, Calif., and the late Kerm Helmer of Utica, were honored for meritorious service.
The induction ceremony will take place April 26 at the USBC Convention in Arlington and will include those elected from the
national superior performance ballots. On the men’s ballot are Tom Baker, King, N.C.; Steve Cook, Granite Bay, Calif.; Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla.; David Husted, Milwaukie, Ore.; Amleto Monacelli, Barquisimeto, Venezuela; and David Ozio, Beaumont, Texas. The women’s ballot has one name, Dede Davidson, Buellton, Calif.
Sean Rash is the hottest bowler in the early stages of the PBA Tour this fall.
According to a PBA Tour press release, the Montgomery, Ill., resident completed the most impressive five-day run in the three-year history of the Professional Bowlers Association’s World Series of Bowling Wednesday, earning the top qualifying position for the PBA World Championship and earning an unprecedented fifth consecutive television finals berth.
Rash, a 29-year-old four-time champion, averaged 234.03 over 40 games bowled on five different lane conditioning patterns at South Point Bowling Center to finish with 9,361 pins and earn a $5,000 bonus as top qualifier by 296 pins over Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich.
“I’ve got my foot down and going full force,” Rash said. “There are so many great players here, you can’t let up. If you think positive, positive things will happen. You need to avoid the negativity. With this [40-game] format, you have to have that mindset.”
Rash, who qualified for the Bayer Viper, Chameleon, Scorpion and GEICO Shark Open finals the previous four days, is the first player to reach more than three television finals in a World Series. He will be among the 16 players who now advance to a series of four divisional elimination rounds in determining the PBA World Championship winner.
In each divisional final, named in honor of past PBA World Champions Don Carter, Billy Hardwick, Johnny Petraglia and Mike Aulby, four players will bowl one game, with the lowest-scoring player eliminated. The three surviving players will bowl a second game, again eliminating the low score. The two survivors will then bowl a game to decide who advances to the PBA World Championship finals which will follow the same format.
All five PBA World Championship rounds will be contested on Saturday, Nov. 19, in a special arena lanes setup at South Point, starting at 10:30 a.m. PT. The telecasts will air on ESPN on five consecutive Sundays except Christmas Day (Dec. 11, 18, Jan. 1, 8 and 15) at 1 p.m. ET.
First prize in the PBA World Championship is $50,000.
Meanwhile, the PBA Tour announced Thursday that because of changing economic conditions, the tour will no longer be exempt, beginning in the 2012-13 season.
Changes in competition rules, announced to the PBA membership at the start of the PBA World Series of Bowling, will mean the end of the “exempt tour” concept the PBA has employed since the 2004-05 season and a return to a “non-exempt” Tour program for the 2012-13 season.
“Over the past few years, the definition of an PBA Exempt Tour player has changed fairly dramatically,” said PBA commissioner Tom Clark. “For the current season, the number of exempt players was reduced from an original field of 57 to 49 with only two events [Carmen Salvino Classic and the Pepsi PBA Elite Players Championship] that fit the traditional Exempt Tour model.
“With the goal of setting the PBA on a new trajectory, following discussions with many players and industry leaders, the PBA is announcing a rules change that eliminates the Exempt Player designation beginning next season. All tournaments during the 2012-13 season will be open to all players — as most of them have been the past two years — with the PBA Tournament of Champions and the new PBA Elite Players Championship being the exceptions.”
STRIKES AND SPARES
u Make your plans now if you are going to bowl on Thanksgiving Day morning. Among the bowling centers hosting handicap tournaments are Town ‘N Country Lanes, Sunset Recreation and the Red Richards Memorial at Green Island Lanes.
u Paul Davis of Middleburgh Lanes, Tim Winslow of Boulevard Bowl, Jeff Lasher of Sunset Recreation and Shaun LeMay of Hootz Family Fun Center advanced to the Huck Finn Handicap Bowling Tournament finals, which will be taped Nov. 27 at 4 p.m. at Burnt Hills Lanes. The winner receives $600, while the runner-up will get $300. Third and fourth place are worth $150 each. There were 374 entries received through the league qualifying process.
u Natasha Bidwell of Boulevard Bowl rolled games of 299, 276 and 257 for her first 800 triple (832) during the Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League at Towne Bowling Academy.
u In other CD Junior Pro-Scoring League news, Ricky Rovelli of Del Lanes rolled a 300 game in the Senior Western Division at Alpha Lanes.
u Justin Carl of Albany won three matches in the stepladder finals, including a 236-183 victory over tournament leader John Alix of Watervliet, to win the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour tournament held last Saturday at Catskill Lanes. Carl earned a $175 scholarship, while Alix, who rolled the first 300 game in CDYST history during qualifying, earned a $100 scholarship. Also earning scholarships were Matt Olson of Schenectady ($70), Chris Hanson of Ballston Lake ($50), Eli Burham of Kingston ($35) and Corey Buckley of Albany ($30). There were 26 entries. The next event will be
Nov. 19 at Sportsman’s Bowl.
u Chris Fedden defeated Pete Linck, 224-208, in the finals of the Northeast Senior Tournament event last weekend at Spare Time Latham. It was his second NEST victory. Fedden earned $400, while Link took home $200. The next NEST tournament will be an over-under 50 doubles event, Digger’s Doubles, Dec. 10 at Hometown Lanes.
u The Vitalo Classic bowling league will honor a junior bowler of the month from the Capital Region. The various local junior programs will submit the top bowlers’ statistics for the month in the various divisions to its web site, www.vitaloclassicbowlingleague.org. The first winners are Dean Gouldthorpe and Caleb Kenfield (bumpers), Aiden Deitz and Allie LaFountain (bantams), Chris Caputo and Isabella Serafini (preps), Kyle Fountain and Lily Hogle (juniors) and Joseph Battaglia and Jessica Mazzo (majors).
u The second annual Towne Bowling Academy Team Handicap Tournament will start next month with a new singles event using your team scores for $15 extra. Top prize for the team event will once again be $4,000, while the singles event will have a top prize of $450. The dates will be Dec. 9 at 9:15 p.m., Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 16 at 9:15 p.m., Dec. 18 at 10 a.m., Jan. 6 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 13 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 21 at 2:30 p.m. and Jan. 22 at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
u Habitat for Humanity’s “Help Build It!” Habitat Bowl-Athon, to benefit Habitat in its mission to build simple decent housing for selected hard-working low income families, will be held Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl. Sign up as an individual, team captain or team by going to www.schenectadyhabitat.org and follow the links. To bowl, be a corporate sponsor or contribute a silent auction item, call Darlyne at Habitat at 395-3412, ext. 1.
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