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February 1, 2018 - 8:26am

USBC drops ball on the way it handled league 'reclassification' effort

posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Bowling, United States Bowling Congress.

In my Jan. 18 column, I shared information about the reclassification of leagues by the United States Bowling Congress – the national governing body's analysis of bowler averages that could result in a “Standard (or House)” shot league being changed to a “Challenge” or “Sport” league based on data derived from bowlers who participated in multiple leagues during the 2016-17 season.

While I support the USBC in its effort to even the playing field when it comes to rating bowlers equal to their skill levels, I am not on board with the way the USBC handled a situation that targeted 704 leagues for possible reclassification.

USBC sent letters out of the blue to these leagues, causing a great deal of anger and confusion. This I know because I was copied on the letters from USBC to 39 leagues in New York State (and on several of the appeals from league officials that followed shortly thereafter).

What the USBC should have done was to inform its membership as a whole in advance about the process, letting everyone know that it had been studying averages from last season and that if a league had at least 20 percent of its members who bowled in multiple leagues, it could be subject to reclassification.

For the record, USBC’s research revealed that 99 leagues were statistically more difficult for bowlers with averages of 20 or more pins higher in a Standard or “house shot” league, which showed that those leagues were competing on “Sport” conditions.  It also found 605 leagues in which bowler averages were 10-19 pins higher in Standard leagues, which shows that those leagues were competing on “Challenge” lane conditions.

(Bowlers with league averages designated as “Sport” or “Challenge” are indicated as such on bowl.com, and are subject to using the conversion charts when entering leagues or tournaments bowled on “Standard” oil patterns).

So, instead of informing bowlers with a message on bowl.com and/or an e-mail blast that this was going to happen and of the appeal process, the USBC blindsided its bowlers (and this is not the first time). 

Only after witnessing the negative reaction from league officials for several days did the USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy then shoot off a letter explaining the rationale for its action and acknowledging that other factors could be involved in a league’s scoring pace (bad pins, faulty oil machines, inconsistent maintenance, etc.), before ending with “I hope this letter helps you understand what is going on.”

Talk about shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted!

To date as a result of appeals, the USBC has decided not to change many of the 700 leagues that were targeted. In New York, at least 22 of the 39 leagues identified for reclassification have been kept as "House" leagues.

In the future, I would hope that the USBC brain trust would think things through to avoid alienating its membership base, especially considering that a decade-long trend of declining membership continues.

TOURNEY RESULTS: ‘SENIOR’ FOURSOME 1ST IN HAIGHT MEMORIAL

Results of tournaments in the Genesee Region over the past couple weeks:

Curt Haight Memorial 4-Person No-Tap
Mancuso Bowling Center, Jan. 20

Longtime Batavia bowlers Joe Trigilio, Fred Gravanda, Joe Mortellaro and Paul Spiotta teamed to place first, rolling a score of 3,187 to capture the $880 top prize.

The event drew 43 teams and raised $1,540 for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

Other cashers were as follows:

Kim Starken, Caycee Landers, Jeanette Sease, Tom Rohl, 2nd, 3,139, $480; Jason Quilliam, Brian Green, Nate Wright, Mike Lambert, 3rd, 3,097, $240; Justin Burdick, Jim Prucha, Jim Kessler, Steve Wenzka, 4th, 3,069, $230.

Dennis Rogers, Mark Brown, Rob Sease, Chris Bardol, 5th, 3,061, $220; Jen Wagner, Rich Wagner, Jason Gallo, Tony Gallo, 6th, 3,050, $210; Ron Brown, A.J. Allenbrandt, Heather Johnson, Mike Johnson, 7th, 3,033, $200.

Mount Morris Pepsi Open
Mount Morris Lanes, Jan. 19-21

Ricky Zinone of Rochester defeated Matt Burt of Buffalo, 192-174, in the title match to win the $1,500 first prize. The 40th annual scratch tournament drew 108 entries.

Zinone qualified in the eighth position with 949 for four games. Kevin Donovan of Painted Post was the high qualifier with 1,024.

Steve Santini of Mount Morris was the only Genesee Region USBC bowler to make the top 24, qualifying through the one-game, “last chance” squad with a 237.

The field included some of the top bowlers in New York State, including professional Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, Mike Rose Jr. of Rochester, Ken Muscato of Canandaigua and Dan Vick of Rochester.

Help-R-Heroes 4-Person No-Tap
Le Roy Legion Lanes, Jan. 26-28

The Le Roy team of Mickey Hyde, Naomi Hyde, Tom Rohl and Shayne Herold placed first in the handicap tournament with a 3,266 score, winning $600.

They were followed by Mark Brown, Kai Clark, Rob Sease and Norm Bialuski with 3,257, $480; Scott O’Neill, Ian Elliott, Dave Elliott and Bill Van Alst, 3,204, $300, and Tom Fluker, Mike Johnson, Mike Lambert and Nate Wright, 3,105, $200.

Proceeds went toward wounded soldiers returning home.

Baker Style Scratch Doubles
Mancuso Bowling Center, Jan, 27

The Lockport-area duo of Gary Kinyon and Jason Ciliberto defeated the Batavia-area duo of Matt Balduf and Rich Wagner, 465-395, to win the $700 first prize.

Thirty-one teams competed in the tournament, which featured six-game qualifying where bowlers alternate frames. From there, the top eight teams advanced to two-game eliminator style finals where half the field is eliminated in each round.

Balduf and Wagner earned $400 for placing second.

Other local teams cashing were Batavian Gregg Wolff and Brian Green. Tom Fluker of Batavia and his partner, Lowell Schoonmaker of Florida, combined for a 300 game.

MASTERS, CROSSROADS HOUSE TOP FEBRUARY SCHEDULE

-- Livingston Lanes in Geneseo will be hosting the 57th annual Genesee Region USBC Masters Tournament on Feb. 10-11.

Open to current GRUSBC members with at least 21 games in a particular league, the tournament offers a first prize of $525 plus a champion’s ring (based on 80 entries).

Qualifying squads (four games) are set for 10 a.m and 1 p.m. Feb. 10, with the top 16 advancing to the four-game semifinals at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10. From there, the top eight bowlers (eight-game totals) will move on to the eight-game Peterson Point match play finals at 1 p.m. Feb. 11.

The entry fee is $50, and re-entry is allowed provided the re-entry does not prohibit a first-time entrant from competing.

To sign up, contact Paul Spiotta at 585-202-6458.

-- The 22nd annual Betty Ellison Memorial “Strike Out for Crossroads House” benefit tournament is scheduled for Feb. 16-18 at Mancuso Bowling Center.

Squad times for the five-person handicap event are 6 p.m. Feb. 16, 3 and 6 p.m. Feb. 17 and 1 p.m. Feb. 18. As of Wednesday morning, openings remain on all squads except for the 6 p.m. Friday squad.

The entry fee is $110 per team until Feb. 9; after that date, it increases to $125.

Registration can be done online by going to www.crossroadshouse.com and choosing the Events tab.

All proceeds from the bowling as well as numerous raffles over the weekend will go to benefit Crossroads House, a comfort care home serving the residents of Genesee and Wyoming counties who have been medically determined to be in their last stages of life (three months or less).

For more information, call 585-409-0136.

-- The 12th annual GRUSBC Youth Team Tournament is set for Feb. 17 at Le Roy Legion Lanes, with squads at noon and 3 p.m.

Only a few spots remain as the maximum number of teams in the event is 16. Each team consists of four bowlers.

The entry fee is $64 per team.  Scholarships will be awarded to the first-place teams in each of three divisions, based on team average.

To enter, contact Tom Fluker at 585-284-2637.

YOUTH TRAVEL LEAGUE BOWLS IN BATAVIA ON SUNDAY

The Genesee Region Youth Travel League returns to Mancuso Bowling Center at 12:30 p.m. this Sunday.

Rose Garden Bowl I continues to lead the 13-team league by 4.5 points over Batavia Strike Force, with Oak Orchard Bowl I another 13 points back.

In recent action, Josiah Yantz of Scopano’s Lanes led the way for the boys with a 242 game and 682 series, while Paige Snook of Oak Orchard Bowl I led the girls with a 214 game and 563 series.

CHECK OUT THE NEW ‘PIN POINTS’ SPONSOR: NEO-TAC

I'm pleased to welcome a new "Pin Points" sponsor this week – Neo-Tac, Inc., which is owned by scientist and avid bowler, Frank Bernabei of Middleport.

Bernabei’s company specializes in bowling ball surface management products, such as Hook-It, Renew-It and Liquid Nitro, as well as lane conditioners and cleaners. Just click on his ad to learn more.

And while you’re at it, click on all of the ads on this page and support those businesses that help keep the sport of bowling in the news.

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