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Historic firsts for Broad, Sunset

Amazing as it seems, there had never been a 300 game bowled at Sunset Lanes in the West Seneca house's more than 60 years of existence until Josh Broad came along.

The 20-year-old former West Seneca East bowler bowled the 300 in a 717 series in the Denz-Hick Memorial Thursday night league at Sunset.

"People went nuts," said Carl Kawa Jr., who operates Sunset with his brothers Steve and Tom. "He was pretty excited himself. It was his first [300] and our first."

Broad, who despite his relative youth operates his own concrete and landscaping business, had been away from bowling for almost three years after he and his West Seneca East teammates won the state school team championship in Rochester in 2009. The season before, the same team had bowled a record 3,481 first-day series but finished second to East Islip in White Plains.

"The last time I bowled before this year was the states my senior year," Broad said. "I just didn't have the time."

Broad's high series is still the 774 he bowled for West Seneca East in a school match at Wimbledon.

"Bowling in school was a different kind of fun. Now it's good to get out and have more fun," said Broad, who also bowls in a Wednesday night league at Wimbledon.

The clientele at Sunset is a close-knit bunch. Broad remembers the buzz in the house when he bowled his 300 on Dec. 6.

"A lot of the guys in the league live near the lanes and they knew there never was a 300 there," Broad said.

Carl Kawa Sr., who died three years ago, started building Sunset Lanes on French Road in West Seneca in 1949. The Lanes opened in 1950.

How did Kawa Sr. get into the bowling business?

"That's a funny story in itself," Carl Jr. said. "My dad used to bowl at Town Edge, and they asked him to leave because he was lofting the ball. Dad said, 'All right. I'll build my own place,' and he did."

At the time, Carl Sr. was operating a Maytag appliance store on Clinton Street in Kaisertown. He soon went from washing machines to bowling. Sunset opened with eight lanes, and six more were added in the 1960s. The business survived a roof collapse, caused by a heavy snow, in December of 2001.

"We were shut down for almost a year," Carl Jr. said. "We got our leagues back after we had to send them to other houses to finish the season."

Why no 300s for 60 years at Sunset, especially in this age when seemingly every serious bowler has one on his resume? First, being only a 14-lane house with about a dozen or so leagues cuts down the possibilities.

"People claim it's a tough house [to bowl high scores in]," Carl Jr. said.

Many of the better bowlers in the area bowl in nearby facilities such as Wimbledon, Strikers, AMF Thruway and AMF Lancaster. Kevin Iwaniak is probably the best known of the top bowlers who have come out of Sunset.

Despite its size and a reputation as a difficult house shot, Sunset has its loyal and steady clientele.

"Our business is holding up," Carl Jr. said. "We keep our prices low and treat everybody good, and they keep coming back. A lot of people like a small house where you're not treated like a stranger."

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ECC has tough task

Judging by the results of last week's Hawk Invitational in Utica, Erie Community College will be hard-pressed to defend its Region III National Junior College Athletic Association title next month.

The Hudson Valley CC team won the Hawk title with a 9,378 total, edging RIT by a pin. Canisius was fifth and ECC was seventh.

However, Aaron Buziak of ECC was the top individual with a 1,391 score. Eric Alajko of the Kats was third at 1,384. Bryan Murzynowski of the Canisius B team was fourth with 1,383.

On the women's side, Mohawk Valley CC was first (7,536). ECC was fourth (7.150). Individually Danielle Dolegala of ECC was sixth (1,358) and Samantha Stachura-Lee was 12th (1.299). Top honors went to Victoria Jonsen of Hudson Valley (1,497).

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Pin chasers

The Greater Buffalo USBC Association Youth Team Tournament gets underway today at Spare Time with squads at 10:30 a.m. and

1 p.m. There will be squads at noon, 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Walk-in entries are still available for both days.

Remember Tom Hess's emotional reaction after he defeated Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, 225-214, to win the USBC Masters championship at National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. a year ago? The Iowa bowler will try to stay under control when he begins his title defense Tuesday in Sunset Station's Strike Zone Bowling Center in suburban Las Vegas, Nev. About 300 bowlers will be trying to dethrone him including Jurek, Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, Joe Ciccone of Buffalo, Brad Angelo of Lockport and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com