Winning the George A. Obenauer Masters Tournament is no guarantee for election to the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame. Until this year, only 13 of the 36 individuals who have won the Obie made it to the Hall.
This year, perhaps for the first time, all three male inductees in the Outstanding Ability designation are former Obenauer champions – Mike Zarcone, John Meczynski and Pat Brick.
The women who will enter the Hall this year for Outstanding Ability are Janette Pieszcynski and Michelle Sterner.
Until he won it in 2014, a major title like the Obenauer was the only thing missing from Zarcone’s outstanding resume.
Aside from that, not many others could match his achievements. He has 90 300 games, and 82 times he’s bowled an 800 series, with a high of 857. Last season alone he bowled eight 800s and six 300 games. Zarcone bowled two 300s in the New York State championship at AMF Airport Lanes in an 845 series.
Six times between 2006 and 2014 he was the GBUSBCA Bowler of the Year.
He won the scratch All-Events at the 2016 New York State Open with 2,294 and was the scratch Singles champion (792) and second in All-Events (2,196) in 2015.
He’s had several titles in the GBUSBCA Open, including the All-Events title in 2010.
Zarcone has been a tireless competitor, almost an iron man. He’s bowled nearly 5,300 games in local sanctioned leagues, according to the USBC records. He bowled an amazing 454 games with a 228 average in 2006. That’s almost six full league seasons. He bowled a mere 294 games with a 236 average in 2015-16.
If Meczynski is nothing else, he is a dogged competitor.
He won his Obenauer Masters title in 1997 after losing his first match. It took 10 straight victories in four-game matches, no mean feat against the best competition Western New York has to offer on championship lane conditions. He had two 300 games in Masters match play that year.
Although the veteran has curtailed his bowling activity somewhat, he still hasn’t lost his touch. As recently as Oct. 17 of this year, he bowled a 300 at Classic Lanes.
Nationally, Meczynski’s biggest accomplishment was striking out in the 10th frame for a 687 series with the 1999 Zawadzki Jewelers team that won the American Bowling Congress team championship.
He seemed to thrive in team competition like the bowlers of the great classic league matches in the 1960s. In 1999, his team won the Buffalo Bowling Association scratch and team titles while he was winning Scratch and Handicap All Events with a 251.4 average. Just last spring, his "American Pride" team won the City Open Scratch Team championship.
On the state level, Meczynski won the scratch doubles in 2015 with Andy Rettig and a team championship in 1983.
His high series is an 847 at the Tonawanda Bowling Center in 1999.
Brick, a left-hander, won the Obenauer in 2004. Just the fact that the former Erie Community College student came back from wrist surgery to take the title is remarkable. The season before he won the Obie, he bowled only 76 sanctioned league games for a 189 average,
In 2004, he also won the City Open six-game combine and singles title. Twice he has won the City Doubles. In 2005, he was All-Events champion of the City Open.
He has more than 30 800 series and 60 300 games. According to USBC archives, he has bowled 11 strikes in a row 12 times since 1999.
Janette Piesczynski also has had to overcome injury to remain a top competitor.
Her most dramatic accomplishment was in 1997, when she needed three strikes in the 10th frame to win the U.S. Amateur Championship. A collegiate champion at ECC – she’s an NJCAA Hall of Fame honoree – she bowled the World Cup in 1998, finishing fourth, and bowled for Team USA in the Pan-Am Games, winning the Masters and Team events.
Also remarkable was her performance in the 2006 USBC Open. Her 789 series was the highest ever by a woman in the male-dominated event. It included just the second 300 by a woman in the history of the tournament.
She’s bowled on championship teams on the state and city tournament level. In the 2014 City Open, she had a 299 game and 790 series in winning the Doubles title with Brian Konieczka.
Janette has had several 300 games, the most recent last January at Transit Lanes, and a high series of 812. Her high average was 222. She’s averaged 200 or better in local league play every year since at least 2002.
Sterner has gained national and local attention as a member of the multi-championship Bowlers Choice team, with Liz Johnson, Sue Jeziorski and Sue Nawojski, who have preceded her into the Hall. The Niagara Falls resident has stood out in her own right. In fact, there have been times during the Dream Team’s run of championships that she carried a major load.
For example, when the team broke the USBC record with a five-woman team score of 3,424 in 2010, Sterner bowled a 702.
Three times she has had the high composite average for the season in the GBUSBCA and was named Female Bowler of the Year three times.
In the City tournament, she has won 11 Team, two Doubles, two All-Events and a Singles title. She won the 2014 New York State Scratch Singles.
Her resume include 28 perfect 300 games and six 800 series. Her 800s include an 843 in 2014 at the Lewiston Events Center.
The Hall of Fame induction will be held on Nov. 26 at Samuel’s Grande Manor.