2021 Genesee Region USBC Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Matt Balduf, Mark Brown and Brian Weber.
Guest speaker Tommy Kress with Rich and Jennifer Wagner.
Press Release from Genesee Region USBC:
The Genesee Region USBC on Saturday night celebrated the completion of a successful 2020-21 league and tournament season by inducting Brian Weber of Perry, Matt Balduf of South Byron and Mark Brown of Attica into the Hall of Fame and honoring Batavian Rich Wagner for his remarkable 899 series.
About 80 association members and guests attended the GRUSBC annual awards banquet at Batavia Downs Gaming. Tommy Kress of Hilton, New York State USBC and Rochester NY USBC Hall of Famer, was the guest speaker.
Weber and Balduf were enshrined in the Achievement Regular category and Brown was inducted into the Meritorious Service category.
Weber thanked former Perry Bowling Center owner Bill Beachner and current owners Brett and Joann Van Duser for supporting him on the lanes, which enabled him to win numerous association tournaments and events throughout Western New York. He has recorded more than 20 perfect games and two 800 series, posting honor scores in six different GRUSBC bowling centers.
Balduf thanked his wife, Darleen, for giving him the freedom to bowl in tournaments on the weekends, and his teammates, especially Mike Johnson of Batavia, whom he paired with in 2018 to win the association doubles crown. Balduf has 10 300 games, including a perfect game in a PBA Experience League on a demanding “Sport” lane condition. He also has three 800 series, with a high of 836.
Brown thanked his parents, Jerry and Donna Davis, and his wife, Penny, for encouraging and assisting him in running tournaments at local bowling centers, most of them for charitable causes. He credited Frank Formicola of Rochester, a noted tournament promoter, for instilling in him the need to distribute entry forms to area halls in an effort to attract bowlers to his events.
WAGNER HONORED FOR 899 SERIES
Following the Hall of Fame ceremony, association officials surprised Wagner with a special “shadow box” award recognizing his 300-300-299—899 series on Feb. 11 in the Toyota of Batavia Thursday 5-Man League at Mancuso Bowling Center.
Wagner’s wife, Jennifer, shared her thoughts on the accomplishment – noting that the left-hander now has 44 perfect games, with the first one coming at the age of 15.
“We are all so proud of you and are excited to see what else you’re able to achieve,” she said. “Continue to stay humble but also stay hungry.”
Wagner, upon receiving the award from Association President Gary Kuchler, said he couldn’t feel his legs for the final six frames of that eventful night but managed to hit the 1-2 pocket each time – even on the final ball which resulted in the 6-pin standing.
“I played all sports growing up and baseball in college, but I never thought that it would be in bowling where I would be the most nervous,” he said.
Nevertheless, his 899 is the best in the nation thus far this season, which officially ends on July 31.
TWO EARN SCHOLARSHIPS
Other honorees were youth bowlers Haylee Thornley of Batavia and Jayden Neal of Albion, 12th graders who received $750 and $500 scholarships, respectively, from the GRUSBC.
Thornley will be attending Daemen College to study Physical Therapy and Neal will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology to study Robotics & Manufacturing Technology.
Kress shared stories from his illustrious amateur and professional career, which includes a dozen local tournament victories, as many Rochester NY USBC association titles and more than 30 top 24 finishes on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.
Major accomplishments include a second place finish in the 1985 USBC Masters, highlighted by match play victories over legends Earl Anthony and Pete Weber on television, and leading the qualifying of the 1980 Quaker State Open in Grand Prairie, Texas.
KRESS: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
His message was that everyone should follow their dreams and don’t listen to those who say you’re not good enough.
“They said that I wasn’t good enough because I have a short backswing, but I didn’t listen to them,” he said. “I practiced and developed my game, what works for me, and I went into each match with confidence,” he said.
Kress, who is enshrined in the Frontier Field Walk of Fame, continues to excel on the lanes, despite two knee replacements. Two months ago, he rolled a 300 game in the Rochester Senior Masters – giving him perfect games in six consecutive decades.
Mike Pettinella, GRUSBC association manager, served as master of ceremonies. He thanked all of the bowling center employees for their hard work under stressful conditions created by COVID-19.
"It is important to recognize the proprietors, managers and their staffs for keeping their centers open -- having to disinfect and follow the guidelines -- so that we were able to enjoy the sport that we love," he said.
The GRUSBC also presented plaques to its association tournament winners and season leaders.
Open Team, Oak Orchard Bowl, Albion, Ben Lennox, Matt Baker, Richard Heise, Robbie Hanks; Women’s Team, Brown II, Le Roy, Judy Blaun, Donna Davis, Robin Blaun, Penny Brown.
Open Doubles, Todd Mortellaro and Scott Shields, Batavia; Women’s Doubles, Patricia Gilbertson and Jeanne Rosa, Perry.
Open Singles, Harris Busmire Jr., Bergen; Women’s Singles, Katy Bzduch, Perry.
Open All-Events, Nathan Cordes, Batavia; Women’s All-Events, Rachel Huntz, Perry.
High Game, Men – 300, 32 perfect games; High Series, Men, Rich Wagner, 899; High Average, Men, Curtis Foss, Medina, 249; High Game, Women, Amy Allis, Medina, 287; High Series, Women, Diane Hurlburt, Warsaw, 738; High Average, Women, Hurlburt, 201.
Foss’ 249 average is an association record.
High Game, Boys, Gavin Baney, Albion, 278; High Series, Boys, Ryleigh Culver, Medina, 751; High Average, Boys, Culver, 195; High Game, Girls, Thornley, 257; High Series, Girls, Juliana Allis, Medina, 676; High Average, Girls, Allis, 184.
GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
Grand prize drawing winners for $500 each were Jamie Watson of Leicester, Darleen Balduf of South Byron and Samantha Bacon of Pike. Twenty-five dollars winners were John Kamakaris of Geneseo, Tiffany Jewell of Holley and Mark Brown.
In an election for president, Johnson defeated Kuchler and will begin a three-year term on Aug. 1. Directors Pat Fuller of Medina, Tom Sardou of Bergen and Sharon Willett of Mount Morris were re-elected for another three years.
Scholarship winners Haylee Thornley and Jayden Neal with President Gary Kuchler.
Tournament champions, front, Patricia Gilbertson and Jeanne Rosa; back, Penny Brown, Donna Davis and Robbie Hanks.
President Gary Kuchler with Curtis Foss, who averaged a record 249 this season.