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In the Pocket: Rotterdam's Kuhlkin captures Donato tournament

In the Pocket: Rotterdam's Kuhlkin captures Donato tournament

Bob Weiner's weekly look at bowling in the Capital Region
In the Pocket: Rotterdam's Kuhlkin captures Donato tournament
Liz Kuhlkin
Photographer: Photo Provided

Walking out of Towne Bowling Academy Sunday night a little after 9 p.m., I heard a familiar voice echoing an even more common refrain.

“Liz Kuhlkin is flat-out the best bowler in the area right now,” said lefty Scott Rogers, who not only bowls with Kuhlkin in several leagues, but is also one of the finest competitors on the lanes in his own right.

It’s hard to argue with Rogers. After all, Kuhlkin’s recent win in the prestigious 17th annual Joe & Tom Donato Scratch Singles Tournament makes her the unofficial local champ. There is no doubt that the Donato event, named in honor of two of the finest players in Schenectady history, is generally regarded as the toughest and most lucrative area tournament. It drew a field of 272 total entries, including most of the most talented players in the Capital Region and beyond.

The Professional Women’s Bowling Association standout defeated Derek Magno of Cicero 204-180 in the championship match and earned a hefty check for $3,200. It was quite a grind under extremely demanding lane conditions. After shooting a 611 triple in the semifinals to earn the 13th seed for the match-play finals, Kuhlkin knocked off Paul Brion, Jim Thomas of Binghamton, and local standout and current PBA50 regional pro Don Herrington before squaring off with Magno.

In the championship match, the Rotterdam native struck in the first, fourth and fifth frames while making single-pin spares in the second, third and sixth frames. She tossed a double in the seventh and eighth frames but chopped the 2-8 in the ninth for her only open. She then filled 20 pins in the 10th frame.

Magno had a chance to put some pressure on Kuhlkin by striking in the ninth frame, but a huge split in the 10th spoiled his run. He still took home a check for $1,600.

“This is absolutely one of my favorite wins,” an ecstatic Kuhlkin said Sunday night. “Tommy [Donato Jr.] has some really cool names coming here. Kyle Troup won last year, and he’s one of the biggest names in bowling. This is really cool. I grew up with Tom Donato and bowled at Sportsman’s Bowl. It means a lot to win this because of him and all the great bowlers in this event.”

The more you watch Kuhlkin bowl, the more you appreciate her unbelievable physical and mental game. There is no doubt that she can roll her ball with power and accuracy, but she also makes great decisions about what equipment to use at the right time.

“I definitely prefer to change balls when the lanes change but it always depends on the situation,” Kuhlkin said. “No. 1: What's the scoring pace? Also important is what my opponent is doing. If he or she is fishing, I can switch balls, but if I’m already in the pocket and I’m just trying to carry, I might switch wrist positions. In this tournament, during match play especially, I definitely wanted to switch wrist positions, because the last thing I wanted to do was go through the face with one of my shots and leave a big split.”

Kuhlkin is sponsored by the Brunswick equipment company, and she does all she can to promote it.

“I’ve got 15 balls here tonight,” she said. “That’s what separates you from the rest these days. It’s stepping up and being consistent making a shot with any ball in your hand. I’ve got so many bowling balls, and it’s my responsibility to know all the new releases and how they work. I promote them, so I better know how they work and when to use them.”

It’s almost hard to believe what Kuhlkin has accomplished at such a young age. The 25-year-old Schalmont High School and Nebraska graduate won the prestigious U.S. Women’s Open a year ago in Orlando, Florida, for her first major and second PWBA title to go along with the 2016 PWBA Maple City Dodge East Open regional crown.

Kuhlkin still owns the Schenectady USBC and national women’s record for high triple (890), and she also captured last year’s New York State Queens crown. A member of Team USA, Kuhlkin earned two silver medals at the 2018 PABCON Women’s Championships, as well as a gold and two bronze medals at the 2014 World Bowling Youth Championships.

Collegiately, Kuhlkin was a member of two NCAA women’s national championship teams for the Cornhuskers, and also was the 2015 NCAA Division I Player of the Year as well as a three-time first-team collegiate All-American.

Pretty impressive stuff indeed.

“This was a great tune-up for me since the PWBA Tour is just a month away,” Kuhlkin said. “The tour always sneaks up very quickly for me. That’s why winning this tournament is so special. During the finals, I’m feeling like I was bowling for the U.S. Open championship. My heart was pounding in my chest. It’s great to put yourself in the scenario where you are making shots under pressure.”

While many local bowlers are getting ready to put their bowling equipment away for the spring and summer, Kuhlkin is just getting started.

“Really, I like golf, and many of my friends can’t wait for the bowling season to end,” she said. “But bowling is never over for me. I’m excited about the upcoming PWBA season, and it was so special to win this tournament in front of my family and friends. It really does feel like family here at Towne Bowling Academy.”

By the way, the Donato event was once again a tremendous tournament from start to finish. Many of the matches in the finals were must-see viewing for bowling fans of any age.

Herrington and Roy Vanderbogart earned $700 apiece, while Matt Sherman, Thomas, Jeff Young and Mike Miseno cashed for $300.  Other round of 16 cashers earned $200 and included Janelle Irwin, Zack Porter, Brion, Matt Trestick, Mark Kepner, Dan Kryzak, Shawn Collins and Nick Galusha.

A.L.B.A.N.Y. RECAP

The Albany League of Amateur Bowlers Association’s last singles tournament Sunday at Sportsman’s Bowl was a huge success with 76 entrants. Twenty-one bowlers earned some kind of prize.

Wayne Rock won the title, shooting a 789 handicap triple to earn $500. Henry Hurst, who rolled the first perfect game in tournament history, was second with a 751. He took home $250.

Other top performances included  Don Amyot (751, $120), Richard Mull (742, $100), Ted Sacawa ( 732, $90), Len Finley (731, $85), Bob McDermott (721, $80), Gary Osterhoudt (711, $70), Dustin Burton (707, $65) and Gerald Rider (707, $60). Gift cards were won by Kim Swiatocha, Robert Roscoe, Marty Browne, Bill Dunn, Todd Paulsen, John Cassera, Bob Herschel, Tyler Oliver, Tom Rogers and Adam Hadden.

The A.L.B.A.N.Y. Main Event caps off the season April 28 at Spare Time Latham.

STRIKES & SPARES

Sad to hear of Don Mennillo’s passing last week. Mennillo was a Schenectady USBC Hall of Fame member and also the longtime league secretary of the Mohawk Valley Golf League at Schenectady Municipal. He will be missed.

Many of the Capital Region’s top female bowlers will test their talents against the best in the state when two major tournaments come to the area next month. The 83rd annual New York State Women’s Championships will be held at Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls on April 6-7, April 12-14, April 26-28, May 3-5 and May 17-19. Meanwhile, the NYS Queens Championship is set for April 13 at Saratoga Strike Zone in Saratoga Springs.

The revamped New Era Senior Tour will be held April 13 at Town N Country Lanes.

Towne Bowling Academy hosts the 14th annual Beukendaal Fire Department Team No-Tap Tournament on Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Entry fee is $25 per person. First place will be $1,200, based on 50 four-person teams. One in 10 teams will cash. Call Jeff McPhail (518-857-2888) for more information.

After a few weeks off, the 24th annual Blizzard Bowl returns for squads on April 7, April 14 and April 28. Entry fee for the four-person team event is $80 per team, and both singles and doubles brackets are available. Top team prize is $2,000. Call 518-374-4171 for more information.

The next Schenectady USBC Board of Directors meeting is Sunday at 6 p.m. at Boulevard Bowl.

MAJOR BOWLING

Janelle Irwin rolled games of 287 and 279 en route to a 1,092 four-game series, and John Askew recorded a perfect game and a 867 triple during a 1,078 on an extremely high-scoring Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Mixed Doubles league card Wednesday night at Towne Bowling Academy.

Matt Swiatocha (1,027), Joe VanDerLinden (1,012), Chris Allen-Valenzuela (1,006) and Scott Rogers (1,004) also hit the 1,000 mark. Askew and Allen-Valenzuela recorded the second highest mixed doubles score in the nation.

Liz Kuhlkin ripped a 300 game and a 279 en route to an 838 triple, while Mark Ray (825) and VanDerLinden (805) also cracked the 800 mark in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City league Monday night at Towne Bowling Academy. Jessica Aiezza shot a 791.

Joe Paone drilled a 290-827, Jamie Diamond tossed a 278-770 and Muny Grille clinched the overall league title in the Sportsman’s Majors Monday night at Sportsman’s Bowl.

In the Frank DePalma Boulevard Classic Tuesday night at Boulevard Bowl, Don Herrington recorded a 936 four-game series, and Jake Shank tossed a 932.

REIS GROUP KIM BROWN MEMORIAL CITY LEAGUE

Standings
Vito Sindoni 24.5-11.5, Falvey Real Estate 23-13, DeCrescente Dist. 21.5-14.5, Downs Roofing 21.5-14.5, Mohawk Honda 20.5-15.5, Kristel Mechanic 20-16, J&F Lawn Care 19-17, Driveline Motors 18-18, Boulevard Bowl 17-19, Towne Bowling Academy 16-20, 20 North 14-22, D&D Lawncare 14-22, Bedrock Construction 12-24, Action Bowling Supply.
———
Downs Roofing (0)
Chris Tinkle 205-202-222 — 629, Nick Barnes 212-204-155 — 571, Ryan Karabin 277-256-225 — 758, Billy Wigand 185-211-194 — 590. Totals: 879-873-796 — 2,548.
20 North (3)
Marc LeClair 229-247-196 — 672, Bob Faragon 218-258-192 — 668, Joel Donato 236-246-212 — 694, Tommy Donato 236-203-224 — 663. Totals: 919-954-824 — 2,697.
———
D&D Lawncare (1)
Karrie Blake 181-215-213 — 609, Laura Rotter 227-225-217 — 669, Don Herrington 254-239-245 — 738, Amber Dominic 200-247-258 — 705. Totals: 862-926-933 — 2,721.
Driveline Motors (2)
Rob Beedleson 254-215-288 — 757, Keith Lawyer 219-234-247 — 700, Dan Rotter 235-204-171 — 610, Tony Palumbo 224-226-232 — 682. Totals: 932-879-938 — 2,749.
———
Kristel Mechanic (2)
Mel Kristel 215-268-246 — 729, Jeff Whitehouse 153-237-257 — 647, Ed White 188-206-237 — 631, Bryan Kelley 279-249-248 — 776. Totals: 835-960-988 — 2,783.
Vito Sindoni (1)
Scott Chastenay 142-222-177 — 541, Mike DiCerbo 199-184-237 — 620, Rich Strath 246-267-210 — 723, Joe VanDerLinden 268-258-279 — 805. Totals: 855-931-903 — 2,689.
———
Mohawk Honda (2)
Ed Gumm 213-152-203 — 568, Chip Tashjian 244-192-239 — 675, Ken LaBelle 247-232-227 — 706, Mark Ray 279-247-299 — 825. Totals: 983-823-968 — 2,774.
Bedrock Construction (1)
Jim Geiger 220-235-216 — 671, Ed McGaffin 223-235-264 — 722, Eric Stangle 235-194-233 — 662, Steve Wagoner 238-259-238 — 735. Totals: 916-923-951 — 2,790.
———
Action Bowling Supply (1)
Rit Fazzone 157-178-189 — 524, Bob Messick 261-257-183 — 701, Natasha Bidwell 193-207-279 — 679, Matt Fazzone 225-279-236 — 740. Totals: 836-921-887 — 2,644.
Boulevard Bowl (2)
PJ Derenzo 205-234-225 — 664, Ken Wilkins 266-232-230 — 728, Mike Scaccia 224-189-218 — 631, Derek Foti 226-224-222 — 672. Totals: 921-879-895 — 2,695.
———
Falvey Real Estate (1)
Dan Auricchio 185-203-242 — 630, Ron Unser 278-244-246 — 768, Jeff Young 269-205-181 — 655, Craig Taylor 223-208-176 — 607. Totals: 955-860-845 — 2,660.
J&F Lawn Care (2)
Jason Brown 225-244-203 — 662, RJ Martinez 181-230-231 — 642, Nick Stricos 193-234-235 — 662, Steve Hallenbeck 226-248-256 — 730. Totals: 815-956-925 — 2,696.
———
DeCrescente Dist. (3)
Jessica Aiezza 279-3255-257 — 791, Mark Kuhlkin 263-233-268 — 764, Scott Rogers 217-193-227 — 637, Liz Kuhlkin 259-279-300 — 838. Totals: 1,018-960-1,052 — 3,030.
Towne Bowling Academy (0)
Tom Earl 276-227-258 — 761, Nunzi Manuli 212-248-237 — 697, Marty Capullo Jr. 244-210-236 — 690, Debbie Capullo 266-192-221 — 679. Totals: 998-877-952 — 2,827.

SPORTSMAN’S MAJORS

Standings
Muny Grille 40.5-15.5, Mazone’s Heating 36.5-19.5, Guidarelli’s Liquor 34-22, Madison Grille 34-22, Metroland Photo 33-23, Mike’s Hot Dogs 28-28, Universal Auto Parts 27-29, Sauce Baseball 24-32, Mohawk Tap Room 24-32, The Appliance Specialist 22-34, Klonowski’s Pro Shop 22-34, IDID 11-45.
———
Metroland Photo (2)
Lee Quivey 236-239-237 — 712, Mike Kamm 190-212-201 — 603, Steve Renzi 205-217-268 — 690, Mike Gallitelli 198-225-205 — 628. Totals: 829-893-911 — 2,633.
Mike’s Hot Dogs (2)
Doug Semerad 182-225-213 — 620, John Leone 233-226-230 — 689, Mike Giaquinto 246-204-238 — 688, Kevin Palmer 223-209-225 — 657. Totals: 884-864-906 — 2,654.
———
Universal Auto Parts (4)
Andy Smith 238-258-201 — 697, Dave Henderson 248-194-245 — 687, Keith Livengood 188-201-248 — 637, Chris Fedden 205-237-176 — 618. Totals: 879-890-870 — 2,639.
Mohawk Tap Room (0)
Brett Rozniewski 196-202-166 — 564, Walt Jones 193-180-187 — 560, Joe Rozniewski Jr. 158-232-196 — 586, Vacant 200-200-200 — 600.  Totals: 747-814-749 — 2,310.
———
Sauce Baseball (1)
Fred McMahon 247-181-232 — 660, Brian Brown 171-200-214 — 585, Bob Tedesco Jr. 167-215-202 — 584, Mike Smith 246-205-202 — 653. Totals: 831-801-850 — 2,482.
Guidarelli’s Liquor (3)
Mike Guidarelli 195-231-169 — 595, Jim Bassotti 226-201-164 — 591, Jim Parker 191-247-198 — 636, Matt Swiatocha 227-216-257 — 700. Totals: 839-895-788 — 2,522.
———
Muny Grille (1)
Jay Diamond 248-203-194 — 645, Dave Bingham 211-236-205 — 652, Gary Bingham 243-215-256 — 714, Jamie Diamond 278-233-259 — 770. Totals: 980-887-914 — 2,781.
Mazone’s Heating (3)
Joe Paone 268-290-269 — 827, Chris Mazone 213-213-194 — 620, Len Reyngoudt 234-212-211 — 657, Ryan Gahan 205-248-249 — 702. Totals: 920-963-923 — 2,806.
———
IDID (0)
Tony Fernandez 192-192-156 — 540, Flash Gordon 117-179-139 — 495, Jim Valentino 194-195-237 — 626, Mike Piotrowski 180-193-236 — 609. Totals: 743-759-768 — 2,270.
The Appliance Specialist (4)
Steve Alexander 268-225-221 — 714, Terry Ray 200-185-204 — 589, Steve Fawcett 246-226-201 — 673, Chris Fawcett 248-209-227 — 684. Totals: 962-845-853 — 2,660.
———
Madison Grille (3)
Eric Hilton 190-161-201 — 552, Bill Carl 244-205-205 — 654, Jason Deitz 182-195-234 — 611, Melissa Bogholtz 211-192-187 — 590. Totals: 827-753-827 — 2,407.
Klonowski’s Pro Shop (1)
Doug Bywater 180-186-235 — 601, Cliff Ruth 189-203-216 — 608, Vince Simoni 183-160-189 — 532, Jim Petronis 182-199-228 — 609. Totals: 734-748-868 — 2,350.

FRANK DEPALMA BOULEVARD CLASSIC

Standings
Boulevard Bowl 38-12, Masons Automotive 32.5-17.5, Ledies 29.5-20.5, Karner Auto 28-22, Town N Country Lanes 25-25, D.A. Parisi & Co. 18-32, Team 8 14.5-35.5, Kalpo 14.5-35.5.
———
Kalpro (2)
Keith Lawyer 211-245-203-227 — 886, Chet Ciembronowicz 221-185-152-200 — 758, Joe Carusone 160-187-197-181 — 725. Totals: 592-617-552-608 — 2,369.
Team 8 (3)
Mike Nolan 188-227-191-220 — 826, Ray Haupt 188-203-193-172 — 757, Tony Bianchi 184-267-225-195 — 871. Totals: 560-697-609-588 — 2,454.
———
Boulevard Bowl (3)
Craig Smith 206-234-219-221 — 880, Brian Hart 225-266-276-159 — 926, Derek Foti 211-245-197-193 — 846. Totals: 642-745-692-573 — 2,652.
Masons Automotive (2)
Zachary Gravell 235-199-222 — 656, Ron Williams 190, Robin Fredenburgh 224-185-196-196 — 801, Don Herrington 267-215-218-236 — 936. Totals: 681-635-613-654 — 2,583.
———
Ledies (1)
Don Cross 227-207-193-201 — 828, Mark Hansen 235-167-267-185 — 864, Dan Bryk 184-169-181-178 — 712. Totals: 646-543-641-574 — 2,404.
Karner Auto (4)
Vince Villano 237-219-156-172 — 794, Bryan Delehanty Jr. 208-221-195-209 — 833, Jon DeVarnne 214-202-202-267 — 885. Totals: 659-642-553-648 — 2,502.
———
Town N Country Lanes (4)
Jake Shank 21-213-264-245 — 932, Matt Trestick 200-203-195-236 — 834, Jack Scaccia Jr. 252-257-201-173 — 883. Totals: 662-673-660-654 — 2,649.
D.A. Parisi & Co. (1)
John Mecca 202-12-268-236 — 898, Jeff Williams 203-205-196-201 ‑805, Ken Wilkins 216-237-229-162 — 844. Totals: 621-634-693-599 — 2,547.

REIS GROUP KIM BROWN MEMORIAL MIXED DOUBLES

Standings
Sindoni Sausage 170.5-89.5, A Touch of Country Florist 170-90, GPS Transport 159-101, Towne Bowling Academy 157.5-102.5, Capital District Mobile Vet 157.5-102.5, Pete’s Auto 148.5-111.5, Strike & Spare Pro Shop 141.5-118.5, Action Bowling Supply 135.5-124.5, Next Level Detailing 135-125, Home Town Pub 131-129, Bellevue Builder 130-130, Limitless Plumbing 126-134, Debra Lamay Agency 125.5-134.5, Marcella’s Appliance 116-144, Battenkill Motor 114-146, DeCrescente Dist. 110-5.149.5, MAC Tools 109.5-150.5, Fifteen Church 96.5-163.5, DeNooyer 88-172, A Plus Heating 82-178.
———
MAC Tools (7)
Kylie Pasquerella 213-199-184-165 — 761, Keith Diamante 202-203-212-189 — 806. Totals: 415-402-396-354 — 1,567.
Pete’s Auto (13)
Jenn Schissler 173-246-215-199 — 833, Chuckie Schissler 169-248-221-165 — 803. Totals: 342-494-436-364 — 1,636.
———
Action Bowling Supply (0)
Jordan Byrnes 226-228-212-180 — 846, Kenny Livengood 189-237-265-170 — 861. Totals: 415-465-477-350 — 1,707.
Capital District Mobile Vet (20)
Chris Allen-Valenzuela 246-253-277-230 — 1,006, John Askew 278-300-289-211 — 1,078. Totals: 524-553-566-441 ­ 2,084.
———
Marcella’s Appliance (3)
Jessica Brockmyer 211-232-225-208 — 876, Don Herrington 258-238-236-247 — 979. Totals: 469-470-461-455 — 1,855.
GPS Transport (17)
Kim Swiatocha 242-212-213-245 — 912, Matt Swiatocha 258-276-258-235 — 1,027. Totals: 500-488-471-480 — 1,939.
———
Fifteen Church (7)
Aliyah Liberatore 15-158-205-145 — 673, Ben Empie 202-175-198-146 — 721. Totals: 367-333-403-291 — 1,394.
Battenkill Motor (13)
Laura Rotter 245-226-236-235 — 942, Dan Rotter 163-225-171-190 — 749. Totals: 408-451-407-425 — 1,691.
———
Bellevue Builder (12)
Ursula Pasquerella 227-178-223-214 — 842, Bill Nolan 298-246-176-265 — 985. Totals: 525-424-399-479 — 1,827.
Debra Lamay Agency (8)
Amber Dominic 213-257-257-191 — 918, Chris Charron 248-238-249-215 — 950. Totals: 461-495-506-406 — 1,868.
———
DeCrescente Dist. (2)
Jessica Aiezza 228-219-257-235 — 939, Scott Rogers 268-249-267-220 — 1,004. Totals: 496-468-524-455 — 1,943.
A Touch of Country Florist (18)
Janelle Irwin 258-268-287-279 — 1,092, Steve Irwin 235-211-279-222 — 947. Totals: 493-479-466-501 — 2,039.
———
Towne Bowling Academy (14)
Debbie Capullo 14-216-185-213 — 788, Ryan Gahan 233-199-214-204 — 850. Totals: 407-415-399-417 — 1,638.
DeNooyer (6)
Michelle Largeteau 152-147-109-133 — 541, Bill Miglianti (absent) 195-195-195-195 — 780. Totals: 347-342-304-328 — 1,321.
———
Strike & Spare Pro Shop (18)
Erica Poje 191-202-209-180 — 782, Paul Dumas 267-264-216-199 — 946. Totals: 458-466-425-379 — 1,728.
Limitless Plumbing (2)
Lindsey McPhail 191-223-207-146 — 767, Zack Porter 209-223-216-214 — 862. Totals: 400-446-423-360 — 1,629.
———
A Plus Heating (7)
Felicia Campanella 165-196-193-279 — 833, Michael Schmitt 157-159-176-180 — 672. Totals: 322-355-369-459 — 1,505.
Home Town Pub (13)
Nicole D’Amario 196-210-172-151 — 729, Tom Rogers 202-234-191-206 — 833. Totals: 398-444-363-357 — 1,562.
———
Next Level Detailing (3)
Natasha Bidwell 184-215-235-204 — 838, Matt Fazzone 259-235-180-236 — 910. Totals: 443-450-415-440 — 1,748.
Sindoni Sausage (17)
Liz Kuhlkin 220-224-202-231 — 877, Joe VanDerLinden 267-256-242-247 — 1,012. Totals: 487-480-444-478 — 1,889.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

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