It's become a tradition on the Western New York high school bowling scene. The unofficial season opener for several years has been the annual Maryvale Boosters Tournament. It used to be held at the AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga. Thruway, of course, is gone and with it went a lot of local bowling history as a PBA Tour stop as well as the venue for national collegiate and sectional high school championships.
With Thruway gone, the Maryvale tournament has moved to AMF Airport Lanes. The latest edition will be Monday at Airport and many, but not all of the top WNY school teams are entered. Some schools annually enter "A" and "B" teams to give tournament experience throughout the roster.
Along with the Festival of Lights Tournament and the Roy Sommer Memorial, it is one of the three annual multiteam events leading up to the sectionals in February, which will also be at Airport.
West Seneca West's A team was the boys winner a year ago and the powerful Orchard Park girls took home the title on their side. Both are expected to be strong candidates to defend their titles.
West Seneca West returns Spencer Guise, Connor Nowak and Nick Ziemba from the team that shot a 3,076 series to win last season. Guise had a 705 high scries and had high single of 277. He also had a 259 game in his series.
There will be plenty of competition for individual honors. Michael Weber, a senior at St. Joe's, won the State Catholic High School championship last season and had the high average in the Monsignor Martin Association. Parker Flis of St. Francis is another standout from the Catholic League.
Jon Kurdziel of Tonawanda led the Warriors to second place in the State Public Schools Tournament in Syracuse last March. His six-game average of 222.33 was second among individuals in the schools Division 2 competition.
Declan Stiles (Orchard Park), Dylan Ambrosio (Orchard Park), Brady Pohlman (Clarence), Anthony Shaver (Maryvale), Dylan Andrzejewski (Depew) and Cameron Stark (JFK) are others who will challenge for individual honors.
Melissa Large of Tonawanda was the top individual scorer in the Section VI team that won the All-Section state title. Her 220 average was fourth overall.
Orchard Park's girls won a second straight sectional title last year. Sarah Radt and Paige Bartosz from that team have moved on to college bowling, but Emily Brock and Olivia Dauer are back.
Kaelyn Weber of Kenmore East, Mike Weber's younger sister, as an eighth grader made the all-section team and had the 11th best individual average (210.50) in the state sectional tournament.
The depth of talent on the girls side is remarkable. Sarah D'Angelo was the individual winner in the sectionals last year with a 216 average as a sophomore. Rachel Wagner (Depew) was sixth in the sectionals and bowled on the Section VI All-Star team. Sydney Skimmer of Alden was seventh in last year's sectionals and Kendyll Jaskier of West Seneca was 10th.
Wagner of Depew bowled a 673 high series and 258 high single in last year's tournament.
Maryvale, the host school, has a strong bowling tradition over the years with such as collegiate standout Melanie Hannon among its alumni.
Anthony Shaver leads the Flyers boys contingent.
Coach Becca Kent's Maryvale girls will be without Mackenzie McIntyre for the tournament. She is visiting relatives in California over the Thanksgiving weekend and her travel arrangements won get her back in time to bowl in the Boosters tournament.
The Flyers won't be caught short, though.
"I'm expecting Alicia Rogacki and Anyssa Maclefko to be our high scorers," says Kent, a former Williamsville South bowler who is in her fourth season as girls coach at Maryvale.
Rogacki bowled a 242 in last year's Maryvale tournament.
• According to the PBA, its first year of its television agreement with Fox Sports has been "financially rewarding to the Tour bowlers. According to PBA figures on official Tour earnings, nine bowlers exceeded $100,000. They were led by Australia's Jason Belmonte with $288,290. Next came Jakob Butturff ($235,780), Bill O'Neill ($192,448), Kris Prather ($183,960), Sean Rash ($181,897), Anthony Simonsen ($176,598), EJ Tackett ($172,945), Dom Barrett ($125,720) and Norm Duke ($105,515). Kyle Sherman just missed the $100,000 mark with $97,558 in earnings.
Belmonte was the Go Bowling! PBA Tour's only four-time winner in 2019, including two majors, the PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA World Championships.
• Old pro Walter Ray Williams is still at it and winning tournaments. He won his 54th PBA Regional title, pairing with nonmember Josh Johnson of Yulee, Fla., to win the $4,800 first prize in the PBA South Region Member/Non-Member Doubles in Tavares, Fla. Chris Warren of Grants Pass, Ore., is the all-time leader with 55 regional titles in PBA and PBA50 competition. Including Walter Ray's 47 PBA Tour titles and 14 PBA50 Tour titles, he has won 115 at all levels.
• The PBA will announce this year's winners of its 2019 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year, Harry Golden Rookie of the Year, Steve Nagy Sportsmanship and Tony Reyes Community Service Awards on Wednesday from the FloSports studios in Austin, Texas. The announcements will be livestreamed by FloBowling.
• The Greater Buffalo USBC Association Youth Team Championships will be Dec. 14-15 at AMF Lancaster Lanes.