Perhaps the most remarkable bowling accomplishment this season in Western New York was the 858 series bowled by Jennifer Grabowski in the Leftovers/Pour Boys League at Allie Brandt Lanes in Lockport on April 22.
It was a Lockport USBC Association record for a woman, close to the Western New York and New York State record, and it came out of the blue.
"It was like an out-of-body experience," Grabowski said Friday by phone from Florida where she is vacationing and visiting family this week.
Grabowski, who will celebrate her 40th birthday next Friday, suddenly regained her bowling form during the 2010-11 season after six seasons of struggling because of a foot injury.
"About six years ago I bowled a 300," said. "At the same time I injured my foot and my bowling just went down. It was a very discouraging six years.
Once a 200-plus bowler, Grabowski saw her average dip to 187 last season.
"I told my husband before last season, 'I'm so discouraged. I don't have my confidence. I don't really want to bowl,' " Grabowski recalled. "He said, 'You got me into this and I'm enjoying it, and we're going to do it together.'
"We signed up for this doubles league [Leftovers], and Allie Brandt Lanes just seemed to fit us. We were really comfortable there."
Grabowski, a left-hander, bowled a 714 series last fall in the league at Allie Brandt and later bowled a 756 at South Transit Lanes. Good signs.
Last Friday, it all came together. She started with a 300 and added two 279 games for her 858.
"When I first got to the bowling alley, I had about two hours of sleep," she said. "I threw two practice balls and both were strikes. I said to myself I've got to step back. I'll save the strikes.
"The first 10 frames were pocket shots. On the 11th, I knew I needed it for a 298 or a 299 and I was so nervous. It was a Brooklyn [crossover] hit. My 12th was a solid strike.
"In the second game, I threw five strikes, a 9-spare (7-pin) and struck out, and in the third game the first eight were strikes, then I left a 7-pin and struck out."
According to the USBC, the high series on record nationally for a woman is an 878 by Karen Rosenburg of Rolla, Mo., in 2001. Fifth among the top five is an 869 by Missy Bellinder (now Missy Parkin) of San Diego, who won the USBC Queens Tournament this week in Syracuse.
The previous Lockport record was 824 by Kelly Masiello in 2008 at South Transit.
The New York State record, again, according to USBC records, is 868 for a three-game series shared by Jodi Musto of Latham in 1997 and Buffalo's own Carolyn Key-Reed in 2003.
"I don't know what happened," Grabowski said of her huge series. "I was comfortable. My timing was on. I throw a decent ball, but last week brought my confidence back. I feel I can do anything now."
Grabowski will bowl in the USBC Women's Championship in Syracuse on May 14. She will bowl singles, doubles with Pat Stoddard, and on a team with other Lockport bowlers.
"I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "They take your last year's average. I'm averaging 210 now. Last year I was at 187. So, with the handicap on top of how I've been bowling we should make out."
Grabowski, a 1989 Newfane High graduate, runs a hair salon business from her home in Lockport. She and her husband, Mike, have been married three years and together for five.
"I'm a stay-at-home mom," she says.
Now she's a stay-at-home mom with a city bowling record on her resume.
*Entries will close on Monday for the Greater Buffalo USBC Association's 48th annual George A. Obenauer Masters Tournament May 10-15 at Strikers Lanes. There are already 70 entries for the prestigious tournament which carries a guaranteed first prize of $2,000. Entries will remain open until there is a full field of 120 bowlers or until next Thursday. With a full field, all match-play qualifiers will cash for $250, according to GBUSBC manager Bill Palumbo.
*The deadline for applications for the GBUSBC Adult Learners Scholarship has been extended to May 8. The scholarship is a $1,000 grant to an adult bowler (39 games minimum in a GBUSBC sanctioned league) who is continuing his or her education. Call the GBUSBC office at 668-4222.