Nick Stricos pokes fun at himself because he admits to not having the smoothest game in town.
But he gets results — especially during his recent hot streak.
The 36-year-old Stricos has been grabbing headlines in all three of his leagues in the last couple of weeks with several 800 triples and a couple of 300 games.
Most impressive was his performance last Monday night in the DV Greco Insurance City League, where he rolled back-to-back 279 games before finishing with a 298 for a career-high 856 at Towne Bowling Academy.
He left a 7-pin in the seventh frame of the first game, a 9-pin in the sixth frame of his second game and a 3-6 combination on the last toss of his final game. “That was the only shot that wasn’t in the pocket all night,” he said. “I got a little slow.
“I was loose. I wasn’t really nervous, because I’ve had a lot of 300 games and stuff like that, but I was thinking about the fact that I was trying for my highest triple ever. That was on my mind a little bit toward the end, but as long as I stayed through the shot, I had a ball going to where if I got it in a little with a tug, I was still getting the 10-pin out.”
Stricos bowls in three different houses, and out of the three, Monday night’s league at Towne Bowling Academy was giving him the most trouble.
“I’ve been struggling at Towne a little, compared to the other places, before the last week or so. I usually leave a lot of weak 10-pins,” said Stricos. “But I recently drilled up a new ball, the Storm Byte. It’s a polished ball that gets through the front of the lane well, but also gives me a really strong down-lane reaction. A lot of polished balls give you that wet-dry situation, but not this one. I’ve been using Hammer balls for the last five or six years, but last year was my worst year of bowling in the last 10 years or so. I’ve been struggling, and it’s been mostly me. But Marty Capullo Jr. told me I should switch to Storm products, and it really helped me out. Now I’ve got four or five Roto Grip or Storm balls, and they are both made by the same company.”
Stricos started out slowly this year in the City League, and is averaging about 225. He averages 238 at Town ’N Country on Thursday nights and is averaging about 230 in the Vitalo Classic at Sportsman’s Bowl.
He’s been on a tear in the four-game Vitalo league over the last month. Right after Thanksgiving, he fired a 300 game and a 1,038 series. He followed that up with a perfect game and a 1,002, fired a first-three of 824 en route to a 1,082 and shot another 300 game on the way to a 1,056.
“It’s been an amazing run,” he said. “These last three or four weeks have been the hottest streak I’ve ever had, especially considering I bowl in three different houses.”
Stricos said he doesn’t compare himself to some of the other powerhouse bowlers in the area because he doesn’t compete in many tournaments and doesn’t have the best-looking approach on the lanes. But he is very effective.
“I’m a self-taught bowler,” he said. “I never really get the chance to practice or change my game. I throw the ball fairly slow compared to some of the guys. I hook the ball a lot, but I only throw it about 15 miles an your. For the most part, I roll the ball around the third arrow, but I have to go a little deeper on Thursday nights, because it’s a second-shift league, and they hook a lot there.”
The humble Stricos, a Guilderland High School graduate, takes his accomplishments in stride, especially when some of the bowlers poke fun at his style.
“Some people poke fun at me because my balance isn’t that great at the line. They call me Hoppy,” he said. “[Former Siena basketball coach] Mike Deane called me that when he used to come over to the lanes to watch us bowl on Monday nights. My goal is to someday get some coaching and to fix my approach, but I don’t have the time to do that right now.”
Stricos, who works as a commercial salesman for Trugreen fertilizer company, has two young children, ages 5 and 3. He doesn’t have time to bowl on weekends in the Huck Finn or Northern Bowlers Association tournaments. When he does bowl in tournaments, he prefers team events, where he can bowl three games and go home.
“I like to bowl in Marty’s Team Handicap Tournament and the Blizzard Bowl,” said Stricos, who has 39 perfect games and 24 800 triples to his credit.
“But I owe a lot to Jack Scaccia Jr. at Town ’N Country, because he’s a guy I’ve always looked up to. I grew up bowling at Town ’N Country. I am also very grateful for the help Marty Capullo has given me, and the other guy I would like to mention is my secretary in the Vitalo league. Dave Mennillo has to be the best secretary around. Nobody runs a league like him. He knows all the records of every bowler in the league.”
STRIKES & SPARES
The Northern Bowlers Association’s Riverfront Insuring Agency Open kicks off the holiday bowling season Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at Sunset Recreation. A men’s and women’s division will be contested, with the men’s competition using a four-game qualifier with finals. The top six qualifiers advance. Top prize for the men’s division will be $650, based on 40 entries. The women’s division will also be a four-game event, with finals if there are at least 10 entries. Entry fee is $55, plus a $15 membership fee.
Sunday’s “Huck Finn Holiday Special” will be held at Spare Time Latham beginning at 1 p.m. The annual event features “special needs” bowlers who will compete with area TV, radio and other media personalities. The two-hour taped show will air Dec. 29 at 10:30 a.m. on MY 4 TV.
Speaking of Huck Finn, Steve Wagoner of Broadalbin, Nick Miseno of Ballston Spa, Nick Galusha of Schenectady and Dan White of Agawam, Mass., advanced to the TV finals in last weekend’s “Super Scratch” tournament. That show was taped Sunday at Boulevard Bowl. I won’t spoil the suspense by telling you who won, but up for grabs was a top prize of $2,000. That show will air Jan. 12.
Justin Carl of Albany won three matches in the stepladder finals, including a 240-236 win over tournament leader Zachary Doty of Nassau, to capture the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour tournament at Del Lanes last Saturday. Carl earned a $275 scholarship, and Doty earned a scholarship worth $175. Michael Hartman was third and won a $100 scholarship. Schenectady’s Natasha Bidwell earned a spot in the stepladder finals, but lost to Carl in the first match. Due to NCAA regulations, she couldn’t claim her scholarship for finishing fourth. The next CDYST event will be the Holiday Open Dec. 29-30 at Towne Bowling Academy from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Call 982-0035 for more information.
John Fleshman, who carries a 120 average, rolled his highest game ever (224) during a 424 triple in the Menagerie league last week at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Saratoga Strike Zone will once again host its annual New Year’s Day tournament, with squads at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Entry fee is $125, and you can re-enter for $75. Top prize is $2,000 guaranteed. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7628 for reservations.
The 20th annual Capital District 600 Club Women’s Tournament will be held Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl. Entry deadline is Jan. 9. Entry forms have been delivered to area bowling centers. If anyone needs an entry form or a membership form to join the Electric City 600 Club, contact Marianne Hogle at 393-8907.
Sponsored by the Carbone Auto Group and Towne Bowling Academy, the annual Uncle Nick Over/Under 50 Doubles tournament will be held in January, with the finals at Towne Bowling Academy. Entry fee is $130 per team. Teams will bowl four games, skipping pairs after each game. One in five teams advance to the semifinals. Bowling will be done on a sport pattern. Top prize will be $2,000 guaranteed. Qualifying squad times will be Jan. 22 (7 p.m. at Olympic Lanes), Jan. 25 (3 p.m. at Towne Bowling Academy) and Jan. 26 (9 a.m. and noon at Towne Bowling Academy). The finals will begin immediately following the final squad at 3 p.m.
Bowlers competing in short-season leagues that begin March 1, 2014, or later can purchase a United States Bowling Congress membership at a reduced price. The new USBC adult basic membership will be available for bowlers who compete in leagues that have 16 or fewer sessions. The membership will cost $10, not including state dues, and it provides a USBC-certified average so bowlers can compete in local, state and national tournaments.
In the final PBA tournament of the 2012-13 season, Tommy Jones captured the seventh Kingdom International Open at Universal Bowling Center Monday for his 15th title. Jones, who entered the modified stepladder finals as the No. 2 qualifier, beat top qualifier Michael Mak of Hong Kong twice, 247-218 and 268-258, to take the $25,000 first prize and his second World Bowling/PBA International Tour title of the season. Jones also won the International Bowling Championships title in Tokyo, Japan, last January. The Saudi Arabia tournament capped off an extended 14-month PBA season as the PBA returns to a calendar year schedule beginning Jan. 1. During its extended season, the PBA conducted 23 traditional tournaments, including five major championships, and 11 World Bowling/PBA International Tour tournaments in addition to its inaugural PBA League schedule of team events.
Sunday’s ESPN taped telecast of the PBA Tour will be the PBA Scorpion Championship at 3:30 p.m. Two-time Collegiate Player of the Year Marshall Kent heads a field of four finalists in a quest for the title in the fourth event of the World Series of Bowling from the South Point Hotel and Casino. Jones, Josh Blanchard and Tom Smallwood round out the field.