Three men who are former George A. Obenauer Masters winners and two of the most successful women competitors in recent years head the 2016 Class of 12 elected to the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame this week.
Pat Brick, John Meczynski and Mike Zarcone are the Obie champions who will be honored for outstanding performance. Janette Piesczynski, who stood out as a college and international bowler as well as locally, and multiple Western New York Queens and City Women’s Tournament winner Michelle Sterner are the women who will be honored.
Also, Ted Czajka and Kathy McDonald will be enshrined in the Veterans Performance category.
Four individuals, including present GBUSBC president Greg Merkle, will go in for Meritorious Service. Joining Merkle will be Ken Duke, Beth O’Brien and Dewella “Dewey” Dobson.
Linda Bardol was elected by the GBUSBC Youth Committee.
Achievement in championship competition, especially in Greater Buffalo USBC events, seemed to weigh heavily among the selectors, which included this reporter. Although there were other considerations, and each of the honorees was successful in other associations and on a state and regional level, all of the performance honorees racked up championships in local competitions.
Brick, 48, overcame a significant wrist injury to win the 2004 Obenauer Masters. Prior to that he was the 1999 New York State Masters champion and in 2002 won state singles and all-events crowns. He added state titles in singles in 2008 and all-events and singles in 2010. Three times he won the Tri-City Masters, a competition among the Tonawandas, Lockport and Niagara Falls associations. He has numerous titles in the Tonawandas. In 2004, he won the Buffalo City six-game handicap combine and the scratch singles and combine. In 2005, he and Mike Mucciaccio took the title in the scratch and handicap doubles in the City tournament and he won the scratch all-events title. Twice, in 1994 and 1999, Brick won the Pete Parisi Award as high qualifier for the Obenauer Masters.
Meczynski not only was a champion, he was a bowler who accomplished some unique firsts. For example, he bowled two 300 games in match play in the 1997 Obenauer. In that tournament he became the first to lose his opening match and then go on to the championship, winning 10 in a row after a loss to Don Voss. Also, he is in the USBC record book as one of four individuals to bowl successive 800 series, an 846 and an 836, in 2001.
Also, Meczynski was a member of the 1999 Zawadski Jewelers ABC championship team. His 687 series was second best on the team.
Zarcone’s victory in the 2014 Obenauer capped a brilliant career that has seen him named GBUSBC Association Bowler of the Year six times since 2006. The list of his honor scores (300 games, 299 games, 800 series, 11 strikes in a row) prints out to nine pages on the USBC website, and that only goes back to 1998. In 2010 he won the City six-game combine and all-events, in 2013 the City scratch combine. He captured the New York State scratch singles last year at AMF Airport Lanes. In 2011-12 he averaged 244 in the GBUSBC. Twice in 2015, he bowled consecutive 300 games. He also has enjoyed success in the Tonawandas USBC Association events.
Despite all that, Zarcone is not the first in his family to reach Hall of Fame status. His wife, Terry, entered in 2006.
Injuries have limited Piesczynski somewhat in recent years, but she has a lifetime of achievement on the lanes, including an outstanding career at Erie Community College. She won the singles, doubles and all-events at the NJCAA nationals for ECC in 1996 and 1997. That same year she was U.S. Amateur champion. She was the Masters winner and a member of the championship U.S. team in the 1999 Pan-American Games. She also was in the lineup for championship teams in the Buffalo Women’s Championship and in the WIBC.
The City tournament is when Sterner usually shined. She bowled on eight team champions and not all of them were with the powerful Dream Team lineup that included Liz Johnson, Sue Jeziorski and Sue Nawojski. In 2006, she bowled on a City Open team winner with an entirely different lineup. Individually, she won two City all-events titles (2007-08), took the 2008 singles and teamed with Nawojski to win the 2008 doubles. Three times she led the Buffalo Association in composite average among women including 2007-08, when she averaged 226.71. She was the State women’s scratch singles champion in 2013. Also she is a four-time winner of the WNY Queens, the first in 1999. She was a member of the Bowlers Choice team that won the 2010 USBC Team title with a record 3,424 score. Sterner’s 702 was the second-best individual score in that record-setting performance.
McDonald joins her father and mother, Frank and Doris Coburn, and sister Cindy Coburn Carroll in the Hall. She was a teen-age phenom in the 1960s and won a state singles and all-events while still in her teens in 1971. She bowled with her mother on a 1972 WIBC championship team. She also teamed with her mother to win a pro doubles title in 1975. She coached the Sweet Home boys bowling team for 31 years.
Czajka was a standout at the end of the era when Classic League bowling was most popular in Buffalo. He stood out for the Bison Products teams in the 1970s and ’80s with such greats as Art Jeziorski, Matt Marzec, Phil Dewey, Leo Casarsa, Bud Schwabl, and Rick Musialowski Sr. After the Classic League bowling ended in the 1980s, he competed in the BPA Traveling All-Stars league. He was second-high qualifier for the 1978 Obenauer at Leisure Land behind future PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker. Bowling for Zoladz Lumber, he led the Masters Invitational Classic League with a 200.25 average at Fairlanes in 1967. His first 300 game at Suburban Lanes was one of only 17 bowled during the 1982-83 season.
Duke followed in the path of his ECC coach, the late Kerm Helmer, in coaching, promoting, organizing and volunteering collegiate and youth bowling. He’s been administrative coach of ECC bowling since 2002 and has coached the Clarence high team since 2002.
Under the leadership of Merkle, the GBUSBC Association has managed to stabilize and improve its operations in a challenging era of declining league competition. An accomplished bowler himself, he has been president of the association since 2007.
Dobson has been a member of the GBUSBC and its predecessors for more than 60 years as a bowler and league officer.
O’Brien is a leading figure in local youth bowling as a volunteer, coach and officer. She has served the GBUSBC for more than 40 years and has been a board member or volunteer for more than 35 years.
Bardol is Region 1 youth director in New York State and has been active as a volunteer and organizer for youth competitions and development.
• A Spring No-Tap Doubles Tournament to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elma, Marilla and Wales opens Saturday at 11th Frame in East Aurora with squad times 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and April 9-10. Entry fee is $20 per person. Call 652-2950 to reserve.
• The GBUSBC Association Stan Kowalski Senior Singles Tournament at Wimbledon Lanes April 16-17 has sold out the first four squads, but there is still room for the new squad that was opened for 4:30 p.m. on April 17. Reserved entries close April 8. Also the reserved entry date for the City Open and Women’s Championships at Broadway has been extended to April 5 but entries can still be taken after that date if space permits.
• The regular Beat the Champ television series on WBBZ-TV resumes at 4 p.m. Saturday with a re-showing at 11 p.m. on Sunday. Chad Mee is the reigning champion. He will take on Justin Zimmerman in the first match. Tony Dolan and Dan Melidona are waiting in the wings in the first of the four April shows from Lucky Lanes in Fredonia.
Others to appear in April are Brad Bixby, Matt Zasowski, Geoff Martin, Ernie Hoover, Carl Kinyon and Mike Zarcone. Zimmerman led the April qualifier with 794, followed by Dolan (773), Melidona (727), Bixby (718), Zasowski (705), Martin (698), Hoover (698), Kinyon (693) and Zarcone (692).
In a special Transit Lanes Championship show last week, Greg Voytovich defeated Marion Singletown, 239-229, in the final match. Singleton and Kristina Szczerbinski, who bowled earlier in that show, were the first female bowlers to appear on the Beat the Champ.