How do you find success in bowling?
Most accomplished bowlers would say the answer is practice.
Here are a couple of other ways. Walt Nowicki closed his eyes. Eric Grant listened to his coach.
Nowicki, at 73, became one of the oldest members of the Amateur Bowlers Association to win an ABA Tournament when he defeated John Welch, 219-196, in the title match at Amherst Bowling Center earlier this month. The score includes handicaps with Nowicki outscoring Welch scratch, 176-171.
"I was lucky," said Nowicki, who lives in Amherst. "In the last three matches (his opponent) missed in the 10th frame."
Qualifying 11th, Nowicki won four matches in the rolloffs. In his second match against Regina Boyd, he converted the tough 4-5 and 4-5-7 combinations.
Against Welch, Nowicki finished first with a strike and a spare. As Welch finished, Nowicki recalled: "I just closed my eyes," as he won his third tournament in 14 years as an ABA member. First place paid $800. Welch won $300.
Nowicki, who has been bowling for 57 years, is averaging 165 in two leagues, the Wednesday Seniors at Bowl Inn and the Transportation League on Friday nights at Transit. He said his high average was about 190 when he was in "as many as four leagues when I was younger." His high game is 266 (with nine in a row) and his high series is 682.
When he was looking for competitive action years ago Nowicki said he was in the PONY League (a series of tournaments in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, a forerunner of the ABA).
Playing it cool
Grant, a 16-year-old Bennett High School sophomore, had a 288 game and 716 at Amherst in the Saturday morning juniors. He started with 10 strikes and converted a 5-7 split in his career high game and series.
Averaging 173 in a house league and 171 in the BPA junior traveling league, Grant said he is more relaxed in the traveling league and that helped him stay calm in his big series.
"I wasn't really thinking about (a big score)," Grant said. "About the seventh frame, my coach (Herb Campbell) came over and had me sit down (to relax).
"He said: 'You can't go anywhere.' He didn't want me wander off and get distracted."
Diana Pennington, Steve Frakenberger, Breanna O'Connor and Michael Gary are the $500 scholarship winners from the BPA Holiday Tournament, held at Amherst.
Pennington (Rapids Bowling Center, Niagara Falls) won the Senior Girls Open division with 575. Frakenberger (Recckio's) was first in Senior Boys with 644. Both scores are scratch.
O'Connor (Clarence) took the Senior Girls Handicap first place with 773. Gary (Amherst Bowling) led the Senior Boys Handicap with 698. Both scores include handicap.
Trophy winners in other divisions: Junior Girls, Brittany Giambelluca (Recckio's), 692; Junior Boys, Eric Steck (Transit), 737; Prep Girls, Tiffany King (Broadway), 663; Prep Boys, Brett Giambelluca (Recckio's), 723; Bantam Girls, Tela Bridges (Amherst Bowling), 683; Bantam Boys, Douglas Adams (Amherst Bowling), 661. All trophy division scores are with handicap.
Spare Time stars shine
Joe Piejda, 15, of the Troyer Farms League had a 269 game and 764 scratch series to lead Spare Time to a 2,660 winning four-person total in the BPA All-Stars second Challenge Matches with junior traveling league bowlers Sunday at Orchard Park.
Piejda's teammates were juniors Dawn Loga, who had 617 with handicap, Rob Panullo 585 with handicap, and BPA All-Star Jim Wangler Jr. Wangler had a 289-693, leaving a 10-pin after 10 in a row.
Nick Maile Jr. had 688 to lead second-place Transit's 2,638. Rich Tomaka had the top series with 269-772 for third-place Ideal.
Ideal moved into first place in the All-Star league by two points over Spare Time with a 29-4 win over Broadway last Saturday at Broadway. Dave Guindon had 718 for Ideal. Kenmore's Tom Brady had the day's high of 795, including his seventh career 300. The league is at Spare Time today at 2 p.m.
Around the lanes
Katie Knapp of Akron made it two tournament victories in a row. A week after winning Division II of the Western New York Queens Tournament, Knapp rolled a 769 scratch and 823 with handicap to take the Buffalo 600 Club Bring A Friend Tournament at Transit.
Florence Danielewicz was second with 617-683 and Debbie Plaza was third with 625-682. Brenda Walker was fourth and Linda Klimchak fifth. Klimchak won Division III of the Queens.
Clarence Bowling Academy's ninth annual St. Patrick's Scotch Doubles tournament has squads each Saturday in March at 2 and 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays March 11 at 3:30 and March 25 at 1 p.m.
The entry is $25 per couple for four games across eight lanes. There are two divisions for 321 team average and over, and 321 and under. First place in each division is $250. Reservations are confirmed only upon receipt of entry blank with verified average and fee.
Mike Aulby was selected by fan ballot on the Professional Bowlers Association Web site, PBA.com, as the final bowler to complete the field in next week's Battle at Little Creek in Virginia Beach, Va.
A PBA triple crown winner and hall of fame member, Aulby polled 48 percent of the vote. Marshall Holman was second in the voting, followed by Mark Roth, David Ozio, Randy Pedersen, Buffalo's Joe Ciccone, last year's rookie of the year, and Eric Forkel.
The tournament format is entirely match play, with Aulby joining a previously selected 31 entrants from last season's points list. Half of the field bowls five-game matches Thursday and the other half bowls Friday. The Round of 16 and Round of 8 bowl Saturday with the semifinals and finals making up next Sunday's TV show at 2 p.m.