Bowling in the Capital Region celebrated tremendous peaks, but also suffered a pair of extreme valleys during the past season.
Here is my top-10 list of the most important local bowling stories.
10 — A youthful team from Sportsman’s Bowl captures the inaugural Hal Buell Cup for winning the Gazette Junior Team Bowling Championship at Sportsman’s Bowl. Zach Porter, Elizabeth Ross, Katie Adamec and Josh Ross comprised the team. The tournament had a unique format with bowlers from the majors, juniors and preps divisions bowling on the same team. The trophy was named after the late Gazette bowling writer.
9 — Colonie High School wins the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys’ team title for the second time in three years. Billy Carl coached the team that included Justin Carl, Charles Moeske, Rick Rovelli, Nick Shaw and Nick Peckowitz.
8 — Mark Kepner claims the unofficial area scratch championship by winning the Huck Finn Jack Scaccia Memorial Championship at Boulevard Bowl. Kepner, a 54-year-old technology teacher at Duanesburg High School, defeated Colonie postal worker Rich Strath in the finals.
7 — Chris Mazone and Mark Hilton, good friends and former standouts in the Albany Bowling Association, are inducted into the Schenectady Bowling Association Hall of Fame at the Water’s Edge Lighthouse. PBA great Parker Bohn III is the guest speaker. Hilton once owned the SBA record for high triple with an 879.
6 — Former PBA tour regular Brian LeClair, now living in Albany, wins the PBA East Regional Players Invitational and earns a spot in the ESPN television finals for the first time in more than 10 years. LeClair runs pro shops at both Del Lanes and Towne Bowling Academy and only bowls on the PBA occasionally. He is still one of the top bowlers on the PBA East Region tour. He earned more than $690,000 on the PBA Tour and finished second twice to Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr.
5 — R.J. Martinez, 25, comes close to breaking the SBA record for high triple and shoots a monster three-game set during the City League at Towne Bowling Academy. Martinez shot games of 297, 288 and 300 for an 885 that came up just four pins shy of Bob “Goose” Faragon’s 889 record triple.
4 — Steve Rock, a power bowler from Hudson Falls who uses a thumbless release, records the first locally televised 300 game since the late Joe Donato turned the trick on the old TV Tournament Time. Rock shoots his perfect game on the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show.”
3 — Schenectady County Community College, coached by Ray Ross, takes down perennial power Vincennes University of Indiana to win the National Junior College Athletic Association championship in Buffalo. Tyler Mochrie, Jeff Karabin, Corey Buckley, Zach Doty, Casey Schoonmaker, Jake Rivers and Tyler Smith comprise the team. Mochrie and Karabin are named NJCAA All-Americans.
2 — Schalmont graduate Liz Kuhlkin, a sophomore, leads Nebraska to a national collegiate championship in women’s bowling. Kuhlkin is also named MVP of the championships, earns NTC All-American honors and then during the summer earns a spot on the Junior Team USA squad.
1 — The area loses two of its all-time greats in Morris Cramer and Dick Peckham.
Cramer, 87, was an original member of the PBA who never got the credit he deserved for helping to get that organization off the ground. He was one of the area’s greatest innovators and owned numerous bowling centers, including Cohoes Bowling Arena and The now-defunct Bowlers Club. He was also an outstanding bowler — one of the all-time best during his era of rubber bowling balls — and ball driller who used unique weights to make the ball hook well before the modern-day equipment and ball surfaces changed the game. He was well ahead of his time.
Peckham, 71, who also spent some time on the PBA Tour, was one of the area’s all-time best bowlers and was famous for his outstanding accuracy on the lanes. He used the same Axe ball for more than 20 years and once owned the SBA record for high triple with an 868. The SBA Hall of Famer cashed in seven of the 16 PBA events in which he participated and once averaged higher than 240 in three different SBA leagues.
STRIKES & SPARES
The third Huck Finn Morris Cramer King of the Hill tournament will be held Sunday at 10 a.m. at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. Entry fee is $65, plus Huck Finn membership if not already paid up. The format will be five games of qualifying. One in five bowlers will cash, with the top seven moving on to head-to-head matches. The squad leader earns a bye to the TV semifinals, plus a $100 check. The second- and third-place bowlers get a bye, while the fourth- through seventh-place bowlers bowl head to head. The winners take on the second and third seeds, with those two winners advancing to the finals. Top prize is $700. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7628 for reservations.
In-house qualifying for the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” handicap division is under way at most local bowling centers. You can qualify through your league for just $10. In-house winners advance to the Jan. 19 handicap finals at 1 p.m. at Playdium Bowling Center.
Mark Jaycox rolled a 288-724 for his highest single game and first-ever 700 triple in the Menagerie league at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Eighth-grader Justin Homburger, 13, of Burnt Hills rolled his first perfect game during a Suburban Council match with Averill Park just before the holidays. He started his next game with nine more strikes to make it 21 consecutive strikes.
Mohonasen’s Alex Alesio rolled a 300 game during a scholastic match with Niskayuna. Alesio was bowling JV at the time.
The $4,000 Towne Bowling Academy Team Tournament continues Jan. 11. Top prize is $4,000. Other squads are Jan. 17, Jan. 18 (double squad), and Jan. 19. Call Towne at 355-3939 to make a reservation.
Town ’N Country Lanes will host a Scotch Doubles tournament Saturday at 9 p.m. Entry fee is $25 per couple. The format will be four games, with handicap 90 percent of 450.
Olympic Lanes in Menands will host the 2014 Trio Tournament. Run by the USBC Albany Bowling Association, this event is open to any certified bowler. Entry fee is $66, and handicap is 100 percent to 675. There will be 1 p.m. squads on the weekends of Jan. 18-19, Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2. There will also be a special Proprietor’s Night squad on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.
PBA Hall of Famers Steve Cook and Doug Kent have been elected to the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in the Superior Performance category. Cook, 56, won 15 times on the PBA Tour, including the 1981 Tournament of Champions, the 1983 Touring Players Championship and the 1986 U.S. Open. Kent, 46, won 10 times on the PBA Tour, including the 1991 and 2006 USBC Masters, plus the 2002 and 2007 PBA World Championships.
The United States Bowling Congress coaching certification and development gold award has been renamed in honor of USBC Hall of Fame coach Fred Borden, who served as the Team USA coach for 12 years.
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.
The next New Era Women and Senior tournament will be Saturday at Spare Time Latham at noon.
Also scheduled for Saturday will be the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour at Alpha Lanes in Troy at 1 p.m.
Sponsored by the Carbone Auto Group and Towne Bowling Academy, the annual Uncle Nick Over/Under 50 Doubles tournament will be held later this month, with the finals at Towne Bowling Academy. Entry fee is $130 per team. 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.