Even great shots don’t always strike in bowling, but Ray Ross’ Schenectady County Community College men’s and women’s teams always deliver a perfect game in terms of championship-level effort and fundamentals.
That’s why it was no surprise that the Royals once again put together a sensational performance last weekend, sweeping the
NJCAA Region III playoffs in Utica. The men won for the sixth straight time, and the women claimed their fifth consecutive title.
Now, it’s off to the NJCAA Championships in Buffalo next weekend, March 1-3. The SCCC women have captured the national championship in their sport three years in a row, while the men have two national crowns in the last five years. All this success has come with a roster that always includes a strong mix of Section II high school graduates.
And don’t forget that Ross, with assistant coaches Will Coons and AJ Indovina, must rework the rosters annually in a two-year program.
I previewed the SCCC teams in November, and Ross told me then that he expected another successful team. It looks like he was right, as usual.
“We’ve had a good run,” Ross said this week. “I hate to put expectations on them, because they are my expectations, and it’s like me putting an anchor on them. In my point of view, I thought they [the women and the men] both exceeded what I thought they would do. The men, from where we were to where we are transitioning to right now, have definitely gotten better every week. The women are ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation, which is a great achievement.”
The men’s team roster includes Ryan Aylesworth, Brandon Aylesworth, Alex Alesio, Kenny Livengood, Brandon Indovina, Rob Mengel, Christian Chiarito and Christian Baitinger.
“Overall, and from tournament to tournament, there’s actually a different kid excelling for us each week on the men’s team,” Ross said. “That’s part of the joy of coaching this team. You never know what you’re going to get. I hope in Buffalo that they all excel.”
The women’s team includes Lauren May Piotrowski, Jenna Lemke, Jessica Shufelt, Becky LaBelle, Quinn Hodson, Natalia Porcello and Megan Lambert. Lemke won the individual championship in Utica and teamed with Piotrowski to win the doubles crown. Porcello was sixth overall.
“We have seven women on the team that at any given moment can be No. 1. They are very solid bowlers,” Ross said.
“What I like about this team is that there has been individual improvement by each bowler, and we have very good rapport. I think every kid on the team has gained confidence in their ability to execute shots. They listen to coaching, and there is tremendous trust between bowler and coach. They are very coachable.”
Stay tuned to see if another national championship is waiting for the Royals, who are also mixing it up with the four-year programs in the 2018 Intercollegiate Team Championship sectional qualifier in Stratford, New Jersey, March 10-11. The top four men’s and top four women’s teams advance to the ITC Championships April 18-21 in Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Schenectady USBC, in its first season as a merged men’s/women’s organization, will conduct two tournaments this season. The Schenectady USBC Open Championship Tournament will hold its team event at Sportsman’s Bowl, while the singles and doubles will be held at Towne Bowling Academy. Handicap will be 90 percent of 240, and the entry fee will be $25 per event, plus $5 to be included in the all-events pool.
Dates for the team event at Sportsman’s Bowl are April 14 at 4 p.m., April 15 at 1 p.m., April 27 at 6 p.m. April 28 at 1 p.m. and April 29 at 4 p.m. Dates for the doubles/singles at Towne Bowling Academy are April 7 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., April 14 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and April 15 at noon.
The second Schenectady USBC tournament offering will be the Schenectady USBC Women’s Championship Singles Tournament at Towne Bowling Academy April 28 at noon. Handicap remains 90 percent of 240, and the cost is also $25.
Schenectady USBC board members will be available during league nights at the three local centers soon to promote the tournaments and answer any questions.
STRIKES & SPARES
It was a big weekend for SCCC’s Livengood, who won his second career title and rolled the seventh perfect game in tournament history during the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour’s Ultimate Eliminator at Hometown Lanes.
Liz Ross, daughter of Ray Ross and a member of the Section II girls’ champion Mohonasen High School team, has announced that she will bowl for third-ranked Vanderbilt next fall.
Rich Ralbovsky rolled his 14th career perfect game last Saturday in the Vitalo Classic at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Jeremy Yando pocketed $599 for winning the Troy Bowling Association’s 700 Tournament last weekend at Cohoes Arena. Other top bowlers included Pete McVeigh ($400), Pam Bertrand ($250), Rick Wark III ($250), CJ Wojtaszek ($125), Heath Craft ($125), Steve Horton ($125) and Mark James ($125).
Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy hosts the next New Era Senior Tour event Saturday at 1 p.m.
The first Boulevard Bowl 5-Man Baker Tournament is Sunday at noon with a top prize of $1,200. Entry fee is $125 per team.
Towne Bowling Academy will host a mixed doubles tournament March 18, with squads at both 9:30 a.m. and noon. Both squads are filling up fast. Qualifying will be four games, with finals to follow. Top prize will be $1,500. Handicap is 80 percent of the difference between the team’s average and 460 with a maximum of 80 pins per game.
The first qualifier for the 16th annual Joe & Tom Donato Scratch Singles tournament, presented by Alpine Flooring, will be March 11 at noon at Uncle Sam Lanes. Qualifiers continue throughout the region until the finals are held April 8 at Towne Bowling Academy. For reservations, contact Tommy Donato at 518-788-0771.