Admittedly, I’m not the toughest grader around, but I’ll give the inaugural Double J tournament held at Towne Bowling Academy last Sunday a solid B-plus.
Jim Burton, who also runs the New Era Senior Tour series, and Jeff Segel, former tournament director of the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show,” are hoping their new scratch tournament series will fill a void created when the Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York decided to end the their Huck Finn televised events at the end of the 2016 season.
Burton and Segel are experimenting with several different formats to see if Capital Region bowlers still want to support local scratch tournaments. Based on what I saw Sunday, the results are mixed. Fifty-three bowlers competed.
That’s excellent for an event with one squad of qualifying, but the Double J guys were counting on a sellout, especially since the tournament field was limited to 30 bowlers under the age of 50 and 30 more over the age of 50.
The senior guys, not surprisingly, gave their full support, as all 30 spots were filled on a pre-paid basis. The younger competitors, however, showed only moderate interest. Twenty-three of the possible 30 berths were filled. I’m not sure why. The tournament directors offered $1,000 to the winner, based on a full 60-player field. Since they came up seven bowlers short, Burton and Segel gave winner Joe Talarczyk from Connecticut, who defeated Broadalbin’s Steve Wagoner 216-203 in the finals, $900. Wagoner earned $500 as the runner-up.
The money was good, and the format successful. The four-game qualifier, which included three standout women bowlers, went smoothly, and the 16 bowlers who advanced into match play gave the fans in attendance some exciting head-to-head matches.
Starting at 10 a.m., the tournament ended just a little after 2 p.m. Many bowlers who have competed in other local tournaments have expressed the desire not to spend their entire day on the lanes. Mission accomplished.
I was also impressed with the quality of the field, which included such well known area stalwarts as Rotterdam native and current women’s professional bowler Liz Kuhlkin, Nick Galusha, RJ Martinez, Matt Fazzone, Connor LeClair (son of PBA50 Bowler of the Year Brian LeClair), recent Schenectady Bowling Association Hall of Fame inductee Joe VanDerLinden, Gary Bingham, Craig Taylor and up-and-coming youngster Brandon Wolf, among others.
I observed several excellent head-to-head matches, including all of Kuhlkin’s games. She appeared to be the bowler to beat all day. I saw her throw just one poor shot in three matches, when she tugged a release against Wagoner. It ended up costing her that match.
Talarczyk, an unknown to most local bowling fans, has been competing in Burton’s NEST tournaments. “I heard about this tournament from bowling in the NEST,” he said. “I love the format. I’m the kind of guy who will bowl wherever there is a good tournament. This was a lot of fun, and I’ll be back.”
Wagoner, who has won just about all the local major tournaments at one time or another, said his downfall was not making a ball switch a little earlier against Talarczyk.
It will be interesting to see how many bowlers show up for the next Double “J” tournament, scheduled for this Sunday at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. There will be two qualifying squads. Entry fee has been dropped from $80 last weekend to $55 for this week. Top prize will be $750. One in five bowlers advance to match play.
For more information, contact Burton (518-209-4748) or Segel (518-496-9700).
STRIKES & SPARES
The first Amateur League Bowlers Association of New York handicap singles tournament, part of the Double J series, will be held Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. at East Greenbush Bowling Center. Only bowlers with an average less than 215 are eligible. Top prize will be $500, based on 60 entries. The format will be three games. Handicap will be 100 percent of the difference between your average and 215, with a maximum of 75 pins per game. Entry fee is $45.
Towne Bowling Academy will host its eighth annual Team Tournament beginning Nov. 17 at 9:30 p.m. The four-person team event continues over 14 different dates. Two squads will be available on most dates. First place prize will be $4,000. Entry fee is $160 per team. Handicap will be 90 percent of 225, with a maximum of 50 pins per person. There is also an optional singles event ($15 entry fee), using the same team scores. Contact Towne Bowling Academy at 518-355-3939 for more information.
Following are the winners of the Schenectady Senior Women’s Singles Tournament held last weekend at Sportsman’s Bowl: Joan Clark (Class AA, 745), Linda Cortese (Class A, 696), Sandra Knabner (Class B, 682), Debbie Truelove (Class C, 738), Kathleen Hunt (Class D, 709) and Jackie Oliveira (Class E, 702).
Lauren Piotrowski of Schenectady won three matches in the stepladder finals, including a 238-227 victory over Tom Hankey of Great Barrington, Mass., to capture the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour tournament at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center last Saturday. Piotrowski became the first female to win back-to-back CDYST events.