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Beat The Champ

November 30, 2017 - 8:55am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, sports, Bowling, Beat The Champ.

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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.

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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.

November 30, 2016 - 9:47pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Beat The Champ, sports.

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To view more photos, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

For 24 years, Paul Peck covered the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres as part of his duties as a full-time sportscaster for Channel 4, in Buffalo.

For less than a year, the New Jersey native has been the play-by-play man for the "Beat The Champ" show, which has been resurrected on WBBZ-TV (MeTV) out of Buffalo (channel 67.1 over the air and cable 72 in Genesee County).

Peck said he has been overwhelmed by the response from the bowling community and the popularity of the show -- which features the best bowlers in the area in scratch singles (no handicap) competition.

"It has been an incredible experience," said Peck during a break in taping on Wednesday at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, where four shows to be aired in December were produced. "I've had more people come up to me and more feedback than I did in 25 years of covering the Bills."

Peck and company's appearance in Batavia continued the wave of success the show has been riding since about a dozen or so bowling centers in Western New York put up $6,000 each to be able to host qualifying rounds and the actual taping of the shows on a monthly basis.

He said he has found bowlers to be passionate about their sport, and has come to realize than many bowlers throughout the region remember the original "Beat The Champ" show hosted by Chuck Healy and then Van Miller on Channel 4 in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

"The show has a cool place in people's memories," said Peck, who left Channel 4 about four and a half years ago and now is a financial professional for AXA Advisors in Buffalo and sports personality for the University of Buffalo.

Peck said he was apprehensive at first about joining the show -- since he has a limited knowledge of bowling -- but noted that he has received much encouragement from longtime bowlers, including his co-host Sue Nawojski, of Buffalo, one of the finest women bowlers in New York State.

"Things have gone very well thus far, and my friend and mentor, Van Miller, would be proud to know that we have kept this tradition alive," he added.

John DiSciullo, WBBZ-TV promotion and production coordinator, said the show is getting very favorable ratings and, just as importantly, has "created an awareness of bowling that we haven't seen locally in a long time." He indicated that the show has been renewed for another season.

Mancuso Bowling Center proprietor Rick Mancuso said he opted in as a way to bring "something that is good for the bowling community .... and I think that has been accomplished."

He also said he was pleased that two Batavia bowlers qualified for the TV show -- Rich Wagner and Fred Gravanda.

"Both of them are great guys, at two different spectrums of their careers, Rich being a younger guy (33) and Fred (at 66), the old war horse," he said, acknowledging both their accomplishments over the years.

He said he is contemplating staying with the show for another year, but would like to see it expand.

"We would love to see the show move a bit more east and northeast of Batavia so we can attract a larger market," he said, referring to the Rochester area. "That would definitely affect us in a greater way."

"Beat The Champ" officials said they are looking into the possibility of going into other areas of the state.

Photo at top -- The on-air trio of Janelle Sabin, left, scorekeeper; and commentators Sue Nawojski and Paul Peck spent the day at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia on Wednesday for the taping of four "Beat The Champ" bowling shows, which will be broadcast on WBBZ-TV (MeTV) during the month of December. Click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page for more photos by Mike Pettinella, bowling columnist and reporter for The Batavian, the region's No. 1 source for online news.

September 17, 2016 - 11:06am
posted by Mike Pettinella in Bowling, mancuso bowling center, Beat The Champ.

AS I WAS DOING some grocery shopping the other day, I ran into a fellow bowler and he commented about the decline in of the number of bowlers in his league at Scopano’s Lanes.

“We have dropped from 12 teams to 10,” he said. “It doesn’t look as though your (Pin Points) article is bringing young people into the sport.”

While his point is well taken, it will take more than a twice-a-month column that touts that achievements of local bowlers and informs the public of coming tournaments and events to get the kids off their couches, away from their technology and into bowling centers on a weekly basis. It will take a concerted effort by all of those involved in bowling throughout the four counties of the Genesee Region USBC – Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming.

It has to start with parents, especially current league bowlers, introducing their children to the game at a young age, and it must continue with dedicated coaches, center proprietors and managers working together to keep the kids’ interest through elementary and high school, and, possibly, into college (where an abundance of scholarship money is available).

I listen to so many excuses as to why kids aren’t bowling – “they’re into other sports; parents are too busy; it’s too expensive,” etc., etc., -- but I’m not buying them.

Sure, a lot of kids play other sports, but a lot of kids aren’t doing anything outside of school. Those who aren’t cut out for the physicality or athleticism of football or soccer may be the ones who will exhibit the hand-eye coordination and fundamental skills to flourish in bowling.

Bowling is not expensive when compared to other sports. Registration fees and commitments to play soccer or hockey, for example, can range into the hundreds of dollars. To become a certified USBC youth bowler, the registration fee may be around $20, and the weekly cost probably is between $3 and $10.

With that being said, I am happy to report that good things are happening around the Genesee Region when it comes to youth bowling.

In Oakfield, Carrie Monachino, who has a bowling daughter, has stepped up to the plate to help keep the kids’ program going at Scopano’s, where sign-ups are scheduled for tonight (6 to 8 p.m.), Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Similar registrations are taking place or already have happened at the GRUSBC’s other centers (see the list on this page).

Bennington Lanes owner Billie Jo Frost is making plans to get a youth bowling program off the ground, while Kevin Sass at Letchworth Pines in Portageville is developing a “Book & Bowl” program to introduce to Letchworth, Keshequa and Fillmore central schools, with the hope of starting a weekly junior league after the first of the year.

“Something like this helps to promote reading as well as participation in a healthy sport,” Sass said. “We think it’s a great combination.”

Circling back to the opening sentence of this column, now is a great time to spread the word that bowling is an activity that builds a young person’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, while promoting teamwork and sportsmanship.

"Pin Points" is just a part of the effort needed to attract boys and girls to a sport that, hopefully, they will like, stay with and eventually find their places in the adult leagues that are crying out for more bowlers. 

‘BEAT THE CHAMP’ IS COMING TO BATAVIA

BEAT THE CHAMP has made a successful comeback to the Buffalo bowling scene, and now the weekly TV show that is part of the WBBZ-TV (MeTV) lineup is making its way to Batavia.

Mancuso Bowling Center has scheduled eight qualifying squads on Nov. 11, 18-20 to determine the 10 bowlers who will appear on three shows, and prior to that will run a mixed doubles handicap event (Nov. 5-6) with the top four teams qualifying for a fourth show.

MBC Manager Mike Sputore said that taping for the TV shows will take place on Nov. 30, starting at 8 a.m. The shows will be televised on Sundays at 4 p.m. (and repeated at 11 p.m.) during the month of December.

“We’re excited about it. This is a big thing for Batavia,” Sputore said.

Qualifying events at other bowling centers that paid the $6,000 needed to become a Beat The Champ host have attracted up to 170 competitors. Sputore said he expects a big turnout in Batavia, which is a short drive for both Buffalo and Rochester area bowlers. The qualifiers consist of three games, with no handicap. The entry fee is $30.

Beat The Champ is produced by the WNY Bowling Proprietors Association. For more information or to sign up, contact Sputore at 585-343-1319.

NO-TAP ON TAP AT MEDINA LANES THIS WEEKEND

IT'S EARLY in the bowling season and Medina Lanes is hosting the appropriately named sixth annual Early Season Handicap No-Tap Tournament this Saturday and Sunday.

Teams of three (men, women or mixed) will compete on Saturday with squads at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m., and on Sunday with squads at 1 and 3 p.m. First place, based on entries, is $750 and the entry fee is $75 per team.

On Oct. 16, scratch bowlers will get their turn on Medina’s synthetic lanes when the Fall Classic singles tournament unfolds. Qualifying times are 12:30 and 3 p.m. with a “Desperado” (last chance) squad and the match play finals to follow.

First place is expected to be $600 and the entry fee is $50.

OAK ORCHARD BOWL TO HOST PAWS EVENT

THE SECOND ANNUAL PAWS Triples No-Tap Tournament to benefit Albion’s People for Animal Welfare Society shelter is scheduled for Oct. 1 at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion.

Squad times are 1, 3, 6 and 8 p.m., and the entry fee is $60 per team. Handicap will be based on 80 percent of the difference in the bowler's average and 220. Women with no average will use 140; men with no average will use 180. One out of every six teams will cash.

A portion of the entry fee, along with money raised through a Chinese auction and prize drawings, will go to the animal shelter.

To register, call 585-590-0804 or 585-589-6900.

COACHING CLINIC IS OCT. 1 AT MANCUSO’S

USA BOWLING Silver Level Coach Tom Fluker of Batavia will be leading a free youth coaching seminar to those interested in being able to teach the fundamentals of bowling to youth bowlers.

The seminar is set for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at Mancuso Bowling Center. You can register for the course by calling Fluker at 585-284-2637 or by sending an email to [email protected].

TWO EVENTS IN BUFFALO AREA THIS MONTH

TONAWANDA Bowling Center574 Young St., Tonawanda, is hosting the TBC Classic scratch singles tournament this Sunday (Sept. 18), with three-game qualifying squads at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The top 16, based on 100 entries, will advance to the head-to-head finals, with the eventual champion earning $1,000.

Entry fee is $57. For more information, call 716-694-4120.

Transit Lanes on Transit Road in Williamsville is the site of the Jack N Jill Mixed Doubles Tournament on Sept. 24-25, a high-stakes event featuring a $4,000 top prize (based on 40 entries). The entry fee is $400 per team.

To enter, send an email to [email protected].

UPDATE, 8:30 A.M., 9/15/16 -- The first honor scores in the GRUSBC were reported to Pin Points in an email from Jackie Jurinich of Medina, secretary of the Wednesday Community League at Medina Lanes. In last night's action, Scott Allis of Medina rolled an 811 series -- adding to his long list of honor scores -- while Jeff Baes of Gasport registered a 300 game, upping his total of perfect games to at least six.

 (Mike Pettinella’s Pin Points column appears every other Thursday on The Batavian, the region’s No. 1 source for online news. To advertise on this page, contact Mike at [email protected] or at 585-343-3736).

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