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Kevin Volker beats the odds with 7-10 pickup

Kevin Volker says he had as much fun accomplishing another bowling feat this week as he did for any of the 14 300 games he's bowled in his career.

Volker converted the 7-10 split in his series in the Boulevard Produce League at the Tonawanda Bowling Center on Tuesday night.

"I was probably was more excited about that as for any 300 game I bowled," said the Sweet Home High and Medaille College graduate.

At first, Volker didn't know how to react. Is the tradition like a hole-in-one in golf where you have to set up a round of drinks for the house? Or was it simply like a beer frame in team bowling: the one in a lineup who doesn't strike in a particular frame has to buy for the others.

Volker chose the latter.

Now living in the Town of Tonawanda, Volker has a degree in elementary education with as masters at Medaille. He works now in customer relations for FedEx. He bowls in two leagues regularly and most weekends in tournaments in the region.

Volker averaged 230 in the Memorial League at Wimbledon Lanes last season and was averaging 209 for the PC Expanders team in the Boulevard Produce League at TBC. Aside from the 7-10 conversion Tuesday was not a memorable night for him. He shot a run-of-the-mill, for him, 580 series.

"Making the 7-10 saved my night," Volker said laughing. "When I left the 7-10, Dan Eberl was making fun of me. I said, 'watch I'm going to make this.'" And he did.

Those who have come teasingly close but not making a 7-10, can recall one pin rolling across to approach the other before either running out of steam or dropping into the pit. Volker shot for the 10 pin and it came across and took out the 7-pin

"Off the back curtain and hit the 7-pin in the neck. In the air all the way," he said.

According to the official 2018-19 report of the Greater Buffalo USBC Association, only nine 7-10 conversions were reported by association bowlers in the 2018-19 season. As difficult a shot as it is, the 7-10 is not the toughest to convert.

A study of every frame in a season on the PBA Tour once showed that the 7-10 split was converted 0.6% of the time by pros. It certainly must be less frequent for amateurs and even accomplished league bowlers. More difficult, it was found, was the "Greek Chuck," the 4-6-7-9-10 or the 4-6-7-8-10. They came in at about 0.2% of the time. Also the 4-6-7 or on the other side the 4-6-10 at 0.66%.

By coincidence, Volker will set out to defend the GBUSBC League Officers Tournament championship when he takes his turn on Sunday morning at Spare Time Bowling Center in Cheektowaga. Volker won the championship of the handicap event with an 854 total over a strong field. The third-place finisher was former Obenauer Masters champion Tony Dolan. This year's League Officers tournament got under way on Saturday.

Volker played baseball on Sweet Home's 2004 sectional Class AA championship team. He went on to play three seasons at Medaille with a .339 career batting average for 77 games and a .432 on-base percentage.

Pin chasers

• Jon Kurdziel, who posted the second best score of the tournament for the Tonawanda High team in the 2019 State Public Schools championship, is off to a powerful start in the Western New York high school season. Kurdziel shot 267-246 257- 770 to win the Maryvale Boosters Club Preseason Christmas Tournament on Monday at AMF Airport Lanes. Last winter --  Kurdziel was the individual winner with a six-game 1,504 in the Section VI tournament at Airport. That helped Tonawanda to the sectional team title, and the Warriors went on to finish second in the state Division II tournament.

Last month, Kurdziel teamed with Kyle Zack for a 1,318 to win the "B" Division Scratch title in the 34th annual Tonawandas USBC Association Adult-Youth Tournament at Manor II Lanes. Kurdziel shot 237-243-233-713, the third best youth series. Nicholas Brady (741) and Sydney Skimmer (716) were the only youth who shot better. St. Joe's bowler Michael Weber shot 706.

Jon's sister, Victoria, bowls at Hilbert College after a four years as a member of the girls team at Tonawanda.

• The Professional Women's Bowling Association Regional Association this week announced a schedule of a minimum of 10 events for the 2020 season, starting Jan. 18 in Sarasota, Fla.

Three of the events are a reasonable distance from Western New York, Rumford, R.I. on Feb, 22, Parma Heights, Ohio, on May 30 and Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 9.

Entry into a PWBA Regional event will be $100 for PWBA members and $150 for non-members. Each event has a minimum guaranteed prize fund of $4,000, with a 1:3 payout ratio. Competitors must average at least 180 to enter and the field is determined by the number of lanes available at each center.

All are one-day events and not open to national champions or PWBA Elite bowlers.

“The addition of PWBA Regional events to the offseason calendar was a high priority to encourage more athletes to experience PWBA competition,” said PWBA Director of Operations Tennelle Milligan. “It is important to provide high-level competitions to women bowlers throughout the year and to offer a starting point for those who want to compete on the PWBA Tour.”

• The BowlTV PWBA Regional Cup will award season-ending bonuses to the top 10 players, based on points earned in all regional events. The highest points-earner will receive a $3,500 bonus, while 10th place in points will earn $500. The total prize fund for the Regional Cup is $13,000.

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