Erie Community College has been at the forefront of college bowling for more than 40 years and it's still the host each year of the annual National Junior College Athletic Association championship. College bowling is alive and well in Western New York and local athletes again are making their mark on college teams elsewhere.
There is a lull in the schedule now, but the action picks up later this month when the ECC men's and women's team participate in the two traditional holiday events. The first is the Roto Trip Keystone Quaker Classic in Allentown , Pa., on Dec. 27. The second is the Lehigh Valley Collegiate Classic, also in Allentown on Dec. 29.
ECC opened its season, as it usually does, in the Big Red Invitational sponsored by the Cornell Bowling Club but held at Cort-Lanes in nearby Cortland. The Kats men finished third among eight teams, including four four-year schools. RIT took the team title. Coach Roy Decibus has almost an entirely new roster. Dana Voytovich, the singles and all-events champion of the 2016 NJCAA tournament, is among the departed.
The current Kats team is led by Dan Streer (Iroquois), who averaged 197.2 to finish sixth in the Big Red Invitational. Ryan Kress of Cheektowaga, a holdover from last season, was 12th (184.33). The ECC lineup also included Joshua Large and Griffin Garcia. The individual champion at the Big Red was Max Dunning of Corning CC. Streer was the Greater Buffalo USBC Association youth bowler of the year for 2016.
The ECC women's team finished second behind Schenectady CC among four teams in the Big Red. Like the men, the Kats have primarily a roster of newcomers. Chelsea Simmeth and Amy Feldman of the Kats finished third and fourth at Cortland. Abigail Smith (Hamburg, a holdover from last season), Katie Naffky and Kourtney Killian completed the ECC lineup. Schenectady bowlers finished 1-2-3 in the tournament.
Bowling teams from and Daemen and Medaille were much more active in the fall. Medaille competed in the Kutztown University Fall Tournament and the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Round Robin as well as dual matches with Daemen and Thiel (Pa.).
Ysobel Conrad (Olmsted) led the Mavericks with a 164.91 average. Remember, most college matches are conducted under more difficult lane conditions, such as Sport, so scores are usually lower than average house conditions.
Medaille's overall record was 14-13, 6-4 in the AMCC. It includes a 9-7 mark in team-format bowling and 7-6 in Baker scoring (as they list it in their stats). Besides Ysobel, the Medaille roster includes Michelle Magee, Jennifer Dennie, Elizabeth Reed, Kaitlyn Doane, Taylor Reese (Cardinal O'Hara), Jennifer Stewart (JFK) and Caitlyn Cornish.
Freshman Rachel Steele from Columbia High near Albany has stood out for Daemen. The Wildcats completed their fall campaign with a 3-0 win over host Thiel in Greenville, Pa. Daemen won the two traditional team matches and swept a best-of-seven-games Baker match. It evened Daemen's record at 9-9 for the fall. The Wildcats will resume bowling in February in a dual match against Medaille at Classic Lanes in Kenmore. Medaille and Daemen split two team matches and the Mavericks won a Baker game when they met last month at Transit Lanes.
Besides Steele, the Daemen roster includes: Cassandra Johnson (MSTP Seneca), Julie Mitchell (Alden), Becca Volmy (Christian Academy), Hayle Scanlan, Kaitlyn O'Hara (Clarence), Julianna Brnik (West Seneca West) and Katie Good (Frontier).
Villa Maria, which named pro Jack Jurek its women's team coach earlier this year, will not compete on a team basis until 2017-18, although some individual bowlers may enter competitions.
Out of town, Haley Carroll (Williamsville South) and Melanie Hannon (Maryvale), two former Section VI and state high school stars, are bowling well in the Northeast Conference, which takes women's bowling seriously and is very competitive.
The NEC holds periodic conference meets at central locations through the fall, winter and early spring. Carroll averaged a team high 200.67 to lead Saint Francis (Pa.) to a second-place finish in the NEC Fall Meet last weekend in Wallingford, Conn. She had a Baker average of 21.3 per frame. Carroll averaged 213.4 in the Fairleigh Dickinson's Jersey Jamboree in October.
Freshman Sara Snyder of Depew has had to wait her turn to gain a place in the regular lineup. She's bowled only nine games with her best showing a 184.75 average in the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawk Invitational last month. Snyder was a 2016 GBUSBCA youth bowler of the year along with Streer of the ECC men's team.
Fairleigh Dickinson finished fifth among seven teams in the Northeast Fall Meet but Hannon, a senior, stood out. She finished sixth in the individual standings with a 196.4 average over seven games.
"It would have been much different if a couple of breaks could have gone our way," said FDU coach Mike LoPresti. "One in particular was in the first match of the day when our anchor bowler, Melanie Hannon, stepped up in the 10th frame only needing a mark to close out the game, and made a great shot but left a pocket 7-10. We ended up losing the match by four sticks."
World championship is Sunday
The PBA World Series of Bowling is winding up this weekend at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. Finals of the four animal pattern events, the Cheetah, Chameleon, Viper and Scorpio, were bowled and taped for later showing on ESPN starting Dec. 18.
The PBA World Championship finals, however, will be televised live at 1 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.
For the second year in a row, E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., is the top qualifier. He finished second last year, losing to Gary Faulkner Jr., 215-202, in the title match.
Sunday's other stepladder finalists will be Jason Belmonte of Australia, Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., and Anthony Simonsen, the 19-year-old star from Austin, Texas.
Tackett held on to the top spot despite a 3-5 record in the final match-play round. He did it by bowling 257, 247, 245, 237, 255, 217 and 236. His total of 14,747 was 131 pins better than second-place Barrett.
The World Championship finalists were determined by bowling on the five different lane conditions: the Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion, Shark and World Championship. Tackett, the 2013 PBA Rookie of the year averaged 232. 05.