Bowling: Zachowicz is Senior Masters champ - The Buffalo News
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Bowling: Zachowicz is Senior Masters champ

 Ray Bellet once was mentioned in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" column after he bowled a perfect game and pitched a perfect game in the Buffalo Muny League in the same calendar year.

These days, Bellet pitches only batting practice occasionally for his grandson, Alex Bellet, a sophomore pitcher-infielder at St. Mary's High in Lancaster. However, Bellet, who was the runner-up in the Obenauer Masters tournament in 1987, still is active in senior league bowling when he's not acting as a bowling promoter and impresario.

Last Sunday, Bellet presented the 25th Annual WNY Senior Masters Tournament at Kenmore Lanes and the event proved more popular than ever.

"It's my best tournament since I've been holding them,"  Bellet said. "We had 68 bowlers. It's growing each year as more guys get interested."

This year's event drew bowlers from as far away as Rochester and Canandaigua.

The prize fund, with a first-place payoff of $500, was based on 40 entries.

Matt Zachowicz, this year's champion, collected $580. The low qualifier (17th place) received $65.

Each entrant bowled three games in the qualifying round. Then the top nine in the 60-and-over division and top eight in the over-50 division bowled another three games games to determine the five-bowler stepladder.

Ken Ball led the qualifying with a six-game total of 1,279. Zachowicz was next (1,245), followed by Don Voss (1,244), George Szczublewski (1,227) and Greg Voytovich (1,218). Just missing the cut by one pin was Larry Fiorella. Voss was the only over-60 bowler to make the stepladder.

In the stepladder matches: Voytovich defeated Szczublewski, 224-196; Voss defeated Voytovich, 248-198; Zachowicz defeated Voss, 207-181, and Zachowicz defeated Ball, 219-183, in the championship match.

It was the first Seniors Masters title for Zachowicz. Five-time champion Gary Kinyon of Lockport didn't advance out of the qualifying round this year. Of the five finalists, Voss was the only former champion. He took the title in 2005.

State women's events hit town 

For the next month or so many of the best women bowlers in the state will come to Western New York for the NYS Women's Championships.

The action begins today at Tonawanda Bowling Center as 59 teams and 106 doubles and singles entries kick things off. When the competition ends the weekend of May 19-21, 405 teams will have competed in the 81st edition of the tournament.

During the tournament's run here, the 46th annual NYS Queens Tournament will be held on Saturday, April 22 at Rapids Lanes in Niagara Falls. After the Easter weekend off, 83 teams will bowl on Queens weekend here. Another 98 teams will bowl April 28-30, 75 teams on May 5-7 and 90 teams May  19-21. There will be no bowling Mother's Day weekend.

Traci Spanitz of Rochester is the defending Scratch All-Events champion. She shot 2,186 last year at AMF Dewey Garden Lanes in Rochester to edge Jessica Aiezza of Mechanicville by five pins. The year before, Aiezza made women's bowling history when she shot a women's all-events record 2,388 at AMF Strikes 'n Spare Lanes in Mattydale near Syracuse. That included her 770 to win Scratch Singles.

Aiezza is a left-hander who bowled at Morehead State in Kentucky, the same school where Liz Johnson was a standout. Liz won Scratch All Events in the state tournament with  2,195 in 2014 at Mardi Bob Lanes in Poughkeepsie. Johnson is not entered in this years Queens. Amanda Borden of Johnstown was the singles winner that year with a 766. Kaylee Hart of the Tonawandas Association was second with 763 followed by another local, Holly Filarecki with 750.

Participation in this year's tournament is a little off recent years, perhaps because the venue is not as centrally located or convenient to Metropolitan New York City, Westchester County and Long Island. There were 471 teams in Poughkeepsie in 2014, 499 in Syracuse in 2015 and 439 last year in Rochester.

Three-time defending champion Shannon Sellens of Copiague is entered again in the Queens. Sellens is a Missouri native who relocated to Long Island. She was a collegiate star at Wichita State.

Hulbert goes on a roll

Mike Hulbert bowled a 300 in an 836 series in the team competition as he won five titles in the 75th Lockport City Tournament last month at Brad Angelo Lanes. Hulbert won titles in the Team Open Handicap (2,969), Team Open Scratch (2,888), All-Events Open Scratch (2,307), Combine Open Handicap (1,610) and Combine Open Scratch (1,610).

Jason Ciliberto shot 782 to win Open Scratch Singles.

Jenn Grabowski had seven first-place finishes on the women's side, including All-Events Handicap (2,106) and Scratch (1,881), Combine Handicap (1,421) and Combine Scratch (1,271). Deanna Turco won four titles, including Scratch Singles (696). Grabowski and Turco teamed up to win scratch doubles with 1,185.

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