Janelle Irwin is stepping up, down and all around. That’s because the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons senior has all the right moves, both on the lanes and all over the dance floor.
The multi-talented Irwin is attempting to become the first girl to lead the Big 10 boys’ bowling league in average. She not only competes for the Golden Knights’ scholastic squad, but she also bowls in the Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring league and the Town ’N Country junior program. Recently, she also started bowling in the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour.
Her father, Steve, is also the ND-BG coach, and has been her personal bowling coach since she was 6 years old.
“It’s really worked out quite well,” said Irwin, whose daughter was busy dancing during this interview Wednesday night, after she already competed in a match for the Golden Knights.
“Janelle is a right-hander who throws an extensive hook. But the great thing about her is that depending on the oil pattern, she can swing the ball outside or move her feet and her target left. She’s pretty good adjusting to different lane conditions, and she has an excellent mental game.”
The younger Irwin has been on the ND-BG varsity for four years, and is averaging 214 for the Golden Knights, 210 in the Pro-Scoring League and 208 in the Town ’N Country junior program.
With the elder Irwin coaching in his third season and Janelle leading the squad, Bishop Gibbons is 51-40 in Big 10 play.
“That’s our first winning record since 2006,” Steve Irwin said. “Janelle has brought that mental toughness and that willingness to win. The other players on the team have responded and worked off that positive energy. They’ve brought themselves up from the lower part of the league to a more competitive team.”
Janelle Irwin had as many as 15 colleges, many from the Midwest, interested in offering her a scholarship for next year, but she would rather stay closer to home. She is now looking at Sacred Heart, Long Island University, Adelphi, Monmouth and Kutztown.
“We’re hoping to keep her closer to home,” said her father. “Janelle is looking to major in the medical field, possibly as an RN or a medical technician. She also is looking to have an arts minor. She’s been into dance since she was 3 years old. She knows tap, jazz, hip hop and ballet. She’s very involved in the dance program, and she also is a student teacher for the 3- and 4-year-olds.
“I honestly believe that the dancing has helped her bowling game. Her foot, hand and eye coordination is unbelievable. I credit that to all of her dancing over the years. It’s all about timing, footwork and hand motion.”
Janelle is such a good dancer and student of dance that she was asked to be the choreographer for this year’s Bishop Gibbons musical, “Anything Goes.”
“Normally, they hire a professional to be the choreographer, but they asked her, and she stepped up. She has a lot of talent,” said her father.
Last week, Irwin averaged a whopping 236 with triples of 762, 687 and 681. She recently put together a run of 22 straight league matches over 600, including four 700 triples. Her best match this year was a 290-762.
Irwin’s career bests are a 772 triple and a 290 single. She has yet to bowl a perfect game, but she is due.
“She’s had a bunch of 289 and 290s, so far,” said her father. “She’s a great kid and student.”
STRIKES & SPARES
Chad Sutliff of Del Lanes rolled a perfect game in the senior boys’ Western division of the Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League last weekend at Hilltop Bowl.
Tammy Sader (759 A division), Rita Heffern (701 B division), Claire Grant (572 C division) and Elisha Taylor (644 division) were winners in the Capital District 600 tournament Sunday at Boulevard Bowl. Other leaders included Amy Janetsky (724), Jessica Aiezza (685), Kate Gardner (681) and Robin Fredenburgh (675) in the A division; Karen Krauss (663), Janis Michalski (640), Misty Yando (632) and Flo Dufek (621) in the B division; Jackie Oliveira (537), Joy Hall (518) and Deb Fountain (516) in the C division; and Mary Kearns (516), Carol Sullivan (507) and Helen Duglin (493) in the D division.
Australia’s Jason Belmonte, known for his two-handed delivery, was named the PBA Chris Schenkel Player of the Year last week. He won two titles, including the USBC Masters, and also was second in three other major championships. Belmonte won the George Young high average award with a 228.81 average over 422 games, and he also captured the Harry Smith point leader award with 238.903. He finished third in earnings with $186,465, behind Sean Rash ($248,317) and Mika Koivuniemi ($227,851).
Ryan Shafer, 47, of Horseheads won the PBA Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award for the second time. Shafer, whose wife, Michelle, died unexpectedly last week, has four career wins, including the 2003 Empire State Open here in the Capital Region.
Defending NJCAA national champion Schenectady County Community College dominated the men’s team title at the Mohawk Valley Community College bowling tournament at Pin-O-Rama Lanes in Utica. The Royals beat the hosts by nearly 800 pins. A.J. Welch was second in singles with an 873 series, and he teamed up with Jake Rivers to earn a share of the doubles crown (1,684). Corey Buckley and Charles Moeske were second with a 1,586 pinfall. Zach Doty was the all-events champion with a 1,798, just three pins ahead of Welch.
The Dick Peckham Memorial tournament will be held tonight at 7 and Saturday at 9 p.m. at Rolling Greens Lanes. The no-tap event is open to any sanctioned league bowler. Handicaps are based on 75 percent of the five-person 1,100 team average. Maximum team entering average is 1,100. Prizes will be returned on a one-in-10 ratio. Entry fee is $60 per team. Call Rolling Greens at 381-4848 for reservations.
Hometown Lanes will host the 39th annual Troy Bowling Association 700 Club Tournament Feb. 15. To be eligible, bowlers must have a sanctioned 700 triple in a Troy Bowling Association league or sanctioned tournament. There will be two squads, one at 10 a.m. and one at 1 p.m. The top eight bowlers from each three-game squad will compete in roll-offs to determine the champion. Each squad is limited to the first 72 bowlers. Entry fee is $30. Send entries to Mike Hodlik at 1930 7th Ave., Watervliet, N.Y. 12189.
The Troy Bowling Association Plastic Ball tournament will be held Saturday at Hometown Lanes.
The next Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour event will be held Saturday at Imperial Lanes in Amsterdam. Bowling begins at 1 p.m. The event will be a Junior Gold qualifier.
The Albany Bowling Association’s Trio tournament at Olympic Lanes in Menands continues this Saturday and Sunday, and also on Jan. 29, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.
The first squad of the Blizzard Bowl at Boulevard Bowl will be March 8 at 9:45 p.m. Other squads are March 16 (11:45 a.m.), March 23 (11:45 a.m.), March 30 (11:45 a.m.), April 6 (11:45 a.m.) and April 12
(9:45 p.m.). For reservations, call Boulevard Bowl at 374-4171.
The annual Uncle Nick Over/Under 50 Doubles tournament continues with qualifiers Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. and noon at Towne Bowling Academy. Finals begin immediately after the Sunday squad, at about 3 p.m.. Entry fee is $130 per team, and one in five teams from the qualifiers advance to the bracket finals.