Understandably, the spotlight was on Kenny Hall, because the former PBA Tour regular was making his first appearance in front of the camera instead of behind it in more than 20 years.
But without an outstanding performance by doubles partner Nick Galusha, Hall’s story wouldn’t have had such a happy ending.
Hall, the color commentator for the last nine years on the Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York’s “Huck Finn Capital Bowling Show,” teamed up with Galusha to win last week’s Over-50/Under-50 title at Spare Time-Clifton Park.
Although the 55-year-old former touring pro was nearly perfect in two games, Galusha came through in the clutch to help his team beat Mike Drexel and Craig Schoonmaker, 243-234, in the championship game.
Under the Baker format, each bowler stayed on his own lane throughout the final. Hall struck in the first, fifth and seventh frames, but he missed a spare in the third frame when he had difficulty getting a clean release from his spare ball. Hall, both an Albany Bowling Association and Schenectady Bowling Association Hall of Famer, also spared in the ninth frame.
But Galusha, who had already struck in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth frames, needed at least two strikes to clinch the win. He did one better, striking out to capture the first Huck Finn title for both he and Hall.
“I’ve been in that spot before, and I haven’t delivered,” said Galusha. “I asked my wife after the tournament whether she thought I would come through this time, and she said that, despite the demons I’ve had in the past, she thought I would do it this time.
“But to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous. I wanted this tournament just as much for him as for me. It’s been a long time since he was on TV, and bowling in that situation. There aren’t that many tournaments for the older guys.”
In the semifinals against Tom Donato and Nick Miseno, Hall was perfect, throwing strikes in the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth frames. Galusha had strikes in the fourth and eighth frames, but he also had spares in the second, sixth and 10th to help the team advance, 235-223.
According to tournament director Jeff Segel, Galusha is one of the most improved bowlers in the area.
“You can quote me on this,” said Segel. “Nick is a much better bowler. I see him try to qualify every week, and you can see that his game has come a long way.”
“We matched up well,” said Hall. “We think alike because we work together. I know what to talk about, he knows what I’m saying, and he just goes out there and throws it like a champ.”
Galusha, 30, was once on the fast track to being one of the best bowlers in the Capital Region. He competed in the state tournament three times while a member of the Colonie High School team, and then he attended Erie Community College in Buffalo, which had one of the premier bowling programs in the country.
“When I was at Erie CC, I bowled with pros like Jack Jurek and Brad Angelo in sweepers when they were off the [PBA] tour. They loved helping out the kids, and I learned a lot,” Galusha said.
“But when I came back to this area after college, I got into some bad habits while bowling on the house shots. It got to the point where I knew I needed some help, so I went to Kenny. We got together and decided to meet once a week to work on my game. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m so much better now.”
At one time, Galusha, who has 11 perfect games and one 800 triple on his resume, thought about a pro career.
“When I was at Erie CC, I was very intense about bowling, and I wanted to do it more seriously,” he said. “But when I met my future wife, Dana, I realized that some things are more important than bowling. Besides, the more you look at it, the money they are making on the tour right now is not really worth it.”
Galusha, whose son, Grayson, was on hand with his wife to root him on during the finals, has cashed in his fair share of regional events and finished second in the prestigious Waverly Scratch Sweeper among his many runner-up finishes.
“If you had asked me when I was 18 if I would have to wait until I was 30 to win my first Huck Finn title, I would have thought you were crazy,” he said. “I definitely thought I would have won a Huck Finn by now. When I was bowling a lot, I missed only a couple of cuts out of 30 tournaments, and my game was razor-sharp back in college.
“I haven’t bowled in many leagues back here. Now, I bowl in a league just once a week to have a beer or two and have some fun.
“But if you’re sound with your footwork, your game will be there no matter what kind of shot you’re on. Bowling on the harder stuff definitely makes you sharper, though.
“This win means a lot to me. More than you would know.”
PBA DRAFT TODAY
The popular Norm Duke won the No. 1 pick in the first PBA League Draft Lottery.
The PBA League makes its debut in suburban Detroit in January. The first PBA League Draft will be today at 1 p.m. at South Point Bowling Center, and will be webcast live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel.
The lottery to determine draft order involved the top eight players from 2011-12 PBA Tour points. Those eight will select four additional players (plus a supplemental player) to fill out their teams for the PBA League. As of the deadline last week, 141 PBA members, including our own Brian LeClair of Athens, have declared themselves eligible for the draft.
Based on the lottery, Duke, who finished sixth in points last season, will get the first pick next Friday. He’ll be followed, in draft order, by: Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo. (fourth in 2011-12 points); Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa. (seventh in 2011-12 points); Jason Belmonte, Australia (second in 2011-12 points); Mike Fagan, Dallas (third in 2011-12 points); Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill. (first in 2011-12 points); Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas (eighth in 2011-12 points); and Osku Palermaa, Finland (fifth in 2011-12 points).
Each team in the PBA League will be represented by a celebrity captain and a city to be named later.
STRIKES AND SPARES
u This week’s Huck Finn event will be the non-winners tournament. Qualifiers will be at Sunset Recreation on Saturday at 1 p.m. for seniors only and at 2:30 for open competitors. Qualifying continues Sunday at Spare Time-East Greenbush at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Entry fee is just $25 per squad, plus the Huck Finn membership fee. Call Segel at 439-7628 for reservations.
u Speaking of Huck Finn tournaments, Gene Speenburgh of Catskill finished with nine strikes and defeated handicap champion Joel Mix to win the scratch/handicap tournament Sunday at Spare Time-Clifton Park.
u Hometown Lanes hosts the next Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour event Saturday at 1 p.m. Call 393-8296 for reservations.
u The General’s Two-Star Challenge will be held Nov. 16-18 at both Towne Bowling Academy and Uncle Sam Lanes. Top prize will be $2,500. Entry fee is $75.
u Bill Douglas won the most recent Sportsman’s Eliminator tournament, and earned $90. Bowlers can qualify through their leagues at Sportsman’s or when lanes are available. Call Sportsman’s at 355-4330 for more information.
u The first two tournaments in the PBA World Series of Bowling will be taped for TV on Saturday.
u Town ’N Country will offer a Turkey Shoot bowling event on Thanksgiving Day. The format will be four games, with the lowest score thrown out.
u Boulevard Bowl will host the Northern Bowlers Associations Stockade Open Nov. 25.
u Towne Bowling Academy will host a special women-only Huck Finn scratch tournament Nov 18th. Top prize will be $1,000. Bowlers will roll three games across six lanes, and one in five bowlers from each squad will advance to the finals, to immediately follow the 11:30 a.m. qualifying squad. All finalists bowl two more games, with the top score from each pair and the next scores to total eight bowlers advancing. Those bowlers will be seeded one through eight and then go head to head to cut to four. Those four bowlers will advance to the TV taping that same night at Sunset Recreation.
u Bonnie Arbitrio and Marie Moorhead combined for a 1,411 to win the 500 Club Turkey Shoot doubles tournament at Burnt Hills. Dolores Rogers and Tammy Palmucci shot a 1,396 for second place in Division A, and Pat Clark and Debby Kreifels posted a 1,391 for third. In Division B, Ginger Wickham and Virginia Wickham shot a 1,387 for first, followed by Dawn Jacob with Maria Barnum (1,377) in second.
u Sportsman’s Bowl’s Tavern Tournament will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. Handicap for the five-person teams will be 100 percent of 220. Entry fee is $120 per team. One in six teams will cash. First place will be $550 guaranteed, based on 28 teams.