In his endless quest for success, Schenectady County Community College bowling coach Ray Ross still makes sure his bowlers enjoy plenty of fun, both on and off the lanes.
Ross, who directs both the men’s and women’s team for the Royals, has led each program to a pair of National Junior College Athletic Association championships. The women’s team captured its second straight title a year ago, while the men were third. The men have also won two national crowns, including the 2015 season, when both of the SCCC teams secured NJCAA championships.
Normally, Ross, now in his 24th year as SCCC’s professor of the lanes, recruits most of his talent from the Capital Region. He constantly searches local junior programs and high school teams for potential collegiate standouts. This year’s roster is a bit out of the ord-inary, especially on the men’s side.
“For the guys, all of them are freshmen, except for Ben Empie from Johnstown,” Ross said. “I’ve got three kids from the Cortland area: Storm Grant, his twin brother Brandon Grant, and Ryan Aylesworth. I recruited Ryan at the Cortland tournament last year, while the twins qualified for the [NYSPHSAA] state championship while at Homer High School.”
Ross, inducted into the Schenectady Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 2015, even recruited a new bowler from California, Andrew Olney.
Rounding out the men’s roster are former Capital Region scholastic bowlers Alex Alescio from Mohonasen, Jeff Fronkoski from Columbia, Rob Mengel from Colonie and Brendan Reedy from Ravena.
The women’s team, which opened the season by winning a tournament at Cortland last weekend, has five veterans returning in Jordan Byrnes, last year’s MVP at the nationals; Casey Kosier, Morgan Ruggeri, Kristen Brazell and Aleah Liberatore. Joining them are Schenectady High School product Lauren May Piotrowski and Megan Shufelt of Watervliet.
“The kids are great this year. They are all working hard,” Ross said. “Last weekend at Cortland, it was a homecoming for a few of the guys, and there were plenty of family and friends there watching them bowl.”
Although he has more than his usual share of newcomers, especially on the men’s side, Ross is extremely optimistic once again that the Royals will be competitive on both the regional and national stage.
“They are new, but I really feel we have the magic again this year, Ross said. “I can feel it with this group. I don’t want these students to read about themselves and start feeling pressure. There is no pressure. All I want them to do is to take one tournament at a time. We’ll have a lot of fun along the way, just like we always do. If we don’t have another great season, it won’t be because we didn’t put in a lot of hard work. I’ll get them prepared. We are definitely beginning to come together. All they’ve got to do is listen to me and work hard. I’ll take it from there.”
Ross not only excels at recruiting talented bowlers, but he also enjoys tweaking their games so that they can enjoy success on the collegiate level, where oil patterns are a lot more challenging.
Don’t be surprised to see the Royals make some noise when the playoffs start next February.
STRIKES & SPARES
Qualifying for the “Huck Finn Capital Region Bowling Show” Over/Under 50 Scratch Singles tournament will be Sunday at 9 and 11:30 a.m. at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. The finals will begin at about 1 p.m. TV taping will begin at
6:30 p.m. at Middleburgh Lanes, and that show will air Nov. 27 on MY 4 at 10 a.m. Taping for the first Scratch Singles event of the season, which held qualifying last weekend, will be held right before the Over/Under 50 show. Call Jeff Segel (439-7628) for reservations.
Meanwhile, in-house qualifying during league competition for both the first handicap show ($10 entry fee) and the first junior show ($7) of the season continues through Sunday.
Charles Claus and Robert “Pee Wee” Williams are the latest members of the Troy Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Canadian Francois Lavoie rolled the first-ever perfect game during the stepladder finals and then defeated Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., 228-194 in the title match to win the 2016 U.S. Open Wednesday night at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas. It was the first PBA title for Lavoie, who also became only the second international player to win the U.S. Open. Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi won in 2001.
The next board meeting for the Schenectady Bowling Association will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl.
Towne Bowling Academy’s seventh annual four-person team tournament starts Nov. 20, and will continue through Jan. 22. First place for the winning team is $4,000, and second place is guaranteed $2,000. There are optional singles, jackpots and brackets available. The first five squads will have a reduced entry fee of $100 per team. After that, the entry fee will be $160 per team.