When Jim Wangler Jr. died last April 30, it left a major void in the Western New York bowling community. Not many loved the sport and being around it more than Jim or put more effort into it and overcame as much to still compete in it. Even fewer made more friends on the lanes than Jim Wangler.
He was respected as a teammate, competitor and friend.
A memorial to Wangler came in the form of a bowling tournament in his honor last month at the Broadway Sports Center. Like Jim, it was both competitive and full of fun and camaraderie for all.
The affair was organized by Jim's family and it accomplished what it set out to do: To remember him in a setting he would have been most comfortable with fellow bowlers and other friends he liked to be around, and to contribute something in the community.
The first annual James Wangler Jr. Memorial Bowling Tournament consisted of two squads of bowlers. The first squad sold out and the second came up four short, a testament to Jim's popularity that endured months after he was gone. In addition to the bowling, there were silent auctions, a pin toss, corn hole competition, pizza, pop and more. The ceremonial first ball was thrown by Wanglers, Kimberley and James III.
The Wanglers make no secret that creating this memorial to Jim will help them overcome their grief from his passing.
"My dad passed away this past April and the family is struggling, missing him terribly," Kimberly Wangler writes. "His passion and half of his heart was with bowling, and we wanted to keep his legacy alive! So with the help of my dad's brother, sister, Mom, nieces and nephews in a very few short months we decided to hold an annual bowling tournament in his name.
"Our dad's passion and love of the game was passed onto us, and all three of us bowled for Maryvale High School. He became the assistant coach shortly after his oldest son James III started bowling for high school in seventh grade.
"In Jimmy's senior year he helped lead the team to win nationals, they still hold the record. He then moved on to college bowling with me, becoming the assistant coach for Medaille College my two years bowling with them."
The Wangler Memorial was organized into two divisions, a classified for fun bowlers and the Open Division, which included many of the top bowlers in the city who bowled with and against Jim Wangler over the years.
There were three 300 games in the Open Division, by Bob Rudnick, Pete Maduri and Kevin Voelker.
"There were also a whole lot of gutter balls and smiles on so many faces," Kim Wangler said.
The team of Maduri, Volker, Henry Allenbach and Bobby Vitagliano won the Open Division.
The Classified Division went to the team of Greg Merkle, Marty Lipczynski, Shawn Williams and Mike Jandzinski.
Proceeds from the event went toward funding an annual scholarship for a male and female bowler at Maryvale. That and the good fellowship the Wangler Memorial Tournament produced made it all worthwhile.
Good WNY showing in Open
Although none of the Western New York entries made the stepladder final, the U.S. Open tournament that wound up at Flamingo Lanes in the Syracuse suburb of Liverpool showed that the region is still a major player in the sport.
John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga and Brad Angelo of Lockport all made the cashers round. Szczerbinski finished sixth, Ciminelli was xxx and Angelo fell short of the cut to 24 for match play.
Former collegiate star Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., took his first major title, defeating No. 1 qualifier Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ari., 256-227, in the title match after defeating Wes Malott, 226-155, in the semifinal. Butturff went 20-4 in match play, including 8-0 in the final round of matches.
Page, who is originally from Topeka, Kan., made his first impact on the PBA Tour in the Etonic Championship AMF Thruway Lanes in 2007. He led the qualifying tournament to earn a place in the 64-bowler field for the tournament proper. It was only his second pro tournament after leaving the amateur ranks.
X - The Geico PBA World Series of Bowling starts on Tuesday at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., and will continue through Nov. 19. It's the ninth edition of the World Series. One of the problems with following the World Series is that it involves multiple events with the finals of each put off until Nov. 18 and 19, where they will be shown live on ESPN3 or taped for future TV showing.
Angelo, Ciminelli, Liz Johnson, Szczerbinski and Tom Sorce of Blasdell are the local entrants, although Johnson now bowls out of Deerfield, Ill.
Match play and the finals of the PBA50 Challenge and the PBA Regional Challenge get things started on Tuesday.
Wednesday, the first of the four pattern championships starts with the Chameleon qualifying. The Sharp, Cheetah and Scorpion events follow. They lead into the PBA World Championship cashers round next week.
X - The local college bowling season is upon us with the Medaille Tournament at Classic Lanes in the Town of Tonawanda today and Sunday.
Daemen College began its third season with 3-0 triumph over Thiel College (Pa.) late last month at Kenmore Lanes. David Zajac is in his second season as coach of the Wildcats.
The Daemen team is led by sophomore Katie Good (Hamburg) and includes freshmen Madison Rogacki (Cheektowaga), Alex Hasiotis, Kaitlyn O’Hara (Clarence Center), Rachel Steele, Katlyn Newbrry, Adrianna Pencek and Alex Syrotynski. Good averaged 175 in the two total-pinfall matches against Thiel. The third point is a best-of-seven Baker series.