If there were an award for the top performance in Western New York bowling in 2006, it would go to Bob Rudnick Jr., of Lancaster.
On March 15, Rudnick bowled an 888 series, highest on record in Western New York, with games of 300, 299 and 289, in the Ball Incentive League at Spare Time Lanes in Cheektowaga. It was his first 800 series and beat by two pins an 886 bowled by the late Allie Brandt in 1939, which stood as a national record for many years and has been recognized as the record for Western New York.
Rudnick, a left-hander, topped the GBUSBC record of 874 set by Mark Zengerski in December 2003.
Otherwise, a review of the bowling year shows most of year's major accomplishments in the sport were by women -- both locally and nationally.
Cindy Carroll of Tonawanda made history in the New York State Women's Championship tournament by becoming the first to finish first in four events -- singles, doubles, team and all-events. She teamed with Heidi Septer to win the doubles and was a member of the four-bowler Buffalo Gals team.
Women made inroads in men's events. After Liz Johnson, Susan Jeziorski, Susanne Nawojski and Michelle Sterner swept all the titles in the Greater Buffalo USBC women's tournament scratch divisions, they added Denny's PBA Tour pro Jack Jurek and won the GBUSBC Open team title. It was the first time a predominantly female team took that title.
Janette Piesczynski of Cheektowaga became the first woman to bowl a 300 game in the USBC Open. On the next to last day of competition, Wendy Macpherson of Wichita, Kan., also bowled a 300 in her 812 series to win the singles and become the first woman to win a regular division title at that tournament.
Amherst's Lindsay Baker, the niece of PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker, made first team All-America and was named the National Tenpin Coaches Association Player of the Year. Baker's 215 season average was the NCAA's best. She claimed two first-place finishes for the University of Nebraska and helped the Huskers to a third-place finish in the NCAA Women's Championships.
Tom Baker was named Player of the Year on the PBA Senior Tour for the second year in a row, compiling one of the greatest seasons in the history of the Senior Tour. He captured four titles, including both majors, and won consecutive events, a record.
Locally, newcomer Dan Patterson, the U.S. Amateur champion, captured the 43rd annual George A. Obenauer Masters Tournament at AMF Airport lanes with a victory over Jason Ciliberto in the title match. Patterson relocated to the Buffalo area from Phoenix.
And there was a great deal of excitement on the local scene with the PBA Tour making two appearances. Kent won the GEICO Classic in February and Pete Weber won the Etonic Championship in November at AMF Thruway Lanes. With the Denny's PBA Tour due to return to Thruway next November and the three major youth tournaments that will be held here in July 2007 should be another banner year for Western New York bowling.
*AMF Mil-Sher Lanes will be site of the 16th annual Tri-City Masters Championship with qualifying Feb. 11 and match play Feb. 18. Members of the Tonawandas, Niagara Falls and Lockport USBC associations will compete. Top prize will be $1,000. Entry fee for the scratch event is $85. Applications are available at all bowling centers within the three co-sponsoring associations.
*The entry deadline for the 2007 USBC Open Championships in Reno, Nev. has been extended to March 30. The event will run Feb. 17 to June 30. For more information visit the USBC Open Championships section of bowl.com or call the tournament entries department at (877) 539-7930.
*Don "Whitey" Dlugosz defeated Dennis Illig, 208-192, in the "A" Division (50-64) and Harold Boyce outscored John Drozdz, 240-233, in the "B" Division (65 and older) to capture the respective championships in the inaugural Tonawandas USBC Association Senior Masters at Tonawanda Bowling Center. In the semifinals, Dlugosz stopped Gary Kellum, 269-261, while Boyce beat George Whittier, 237-192.
*The annual New Year's Day NY Eliminator Tournament, with $1,500 guaranteed for first place, will be held at AMF Thruway Lanes on Monday. Qualifying squads will be at noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m. For information, call AMF Thruway Lanes at 896-8507.