'Beat the Champ' TV production puts Batavia in the bowling spotlight
The Beat the Champ TV show cast and production crew rolled into Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia on Wednesday to tape four shows that will run in December, two of which featured local adult and youth standouts.
Family, friends, longtime bowlers, fans of the WBBZ-TV (MeTV) telecast and interested observers turned out to watch the competition on lanes 19-20.
Batavians Rich Wagner and Rob Stefani – who registered a 300 game in league play earlier this week – along with Brockport’s Chris Bardol (owner of The North Pole Restaurant in Batavia) competed on the third show and eight youth bowlers from the Turnbull Heating Junior League at Mancuso’s participated in a Doubles event on the fourth show (see photo below).
The Wagner-Bardol-Stefani show will be telecast at 4 p.m. Dec. 23 (repeated at 11 p.m. Dec. 24) and the youth special will be telecast at the same times on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.
All of the seven other bowlers in the regular shows were from the Buffalo area – reigning champ John Danielwicz, and qualifiers Josh Vogt, Dana Voytovich, Jeremy Zimmerman, Dan Richbart, Chuck Jagodzinski and Joseph Pohlman.
The first two shows will air on Dec. 9-10 and Dec. 16-17.
(Note: The Batavian will report the results of the matches after each show is televised).
The size of the audience grew as the show with the local bowlers neared its starting time, around 2 p.m.
For Tim Shanks of Elba, a former league bowler, seeing all the TV lights, cameras and set was an eye-opener.
“This is much more than I figured,” said Shanks, who said he watches the show regularly. “I’m happy the show is on again; it brings back memories of the old Beat the Champ. And I’m just glad that it’s so close to home.”
Beat the Champ airs from 12 different bowling centers, mostly in the Buffalo area, throughout the year, with four shows each month from a particular center.
Stars of the show are commentator Paul Peck, analyst Sue Nawojski and scorekeeper/host Janelle Sabin. Mike Pettinella, New York State USBC association manager and bowling writer for The Batavian, joined Peck and Nawojski as a commentator on the Wagner-Stefani-Bardol show.
Qualifiers for the show took place on Nov. 11-12, with the top nine bowlers making the TV show – bowlers 1-3 on the first show, 4-6 on the second show and 7-9 on the third show. Coincidentally, Wagner, Bardol and Stefani finished in seventh through ninth place, and as a result, were grouped on the same telecast.
This was the second straight appearance for Wagner, who earned $250 last year, and Bardol, who competed in a coed doubles special event.
Photo at top -- Rich Wagner, left, talks with Chris Bardol as Rob Stefani poses for some still photos prior to their Beat the Champ TV show at Mancuso Bowling Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Photos under the story -- The crowd included Rich Wagner's father, Rich, in the front row, and family and friends; Bardol is interviewed for post-production purposes by Sue Nawojski; longtime Batavian Tom Stokes (in red sweater and wearing an autographed French Connection Sabres hat) posed for a photo with Nawojski, Paul Peck and Janelle Sabin; local competitors Rich Wagner, Chris Bardol and Rob Stefani; youth participants James Townsend, Corinne Saluste, Emma Miller, Samantha Balbi, Benjamin Sputore, Tara Clattenburg, Skylar Laesser and Sam Miller; the on-air cast opening the youth special show. Photos by Mike Pettinella.