By John Bassetti
What was designed to be a fund-raiser for the Liberty and Hubbard high school bowling teams turned out to be something that young bowlers deposited in their memory banks.
“Being that we were in the green, we managed to meet our goal. But the best part of it was the experience the kids got in the pro-am,” said Jim Bryant, the organizer of the inaugural PBA Hubbard Open in March 2011.
Mostly because of the two-pronged success, the Hubbard Open returns to Bell-Wick Bowl from March 16-18.
Ryan Ciminelli is defending champion of the event, which is one of the Central-East Region tournaments. The Cheektowaga, N.Y. native topped a field of 100 for a $2,600 payday after beating Dayton’s Brian Kretzer, 233-226.
This year, the Hubbard Open’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend includes a pair of pro-ams on Friday, qualifying rounds on Saturday and the finals on Sunday.
Bryant recalled that Rhino Page was the most popular pro among the youth in attendance at Bell-Wick in 2011.
“I’m told that he’s coming back,” Bryant said. “He was really good with kids. He gave away bowling balls to kids who were around, maybe that’s why he was so popular.”
Bryant’s son, Jacob, was 11 last March when he was one of those receiving an autographed ball from the pro.
“I think my son slept with it for a week,” Jim Bryant said of the Storm-brand ball received from Page, who actually used it in practice.
As a prelude to this year’s Hubbard Open, a qualifier sponsored by the Quality Inn-Liberty is scheduled on March 4 at 1 p.m. at Bell-Wick.
The top finisher in the “Quality Inn Qualifier” will be rewarded with a paid entry into the PBA tournament (worth $285 for a PBA non-member or $220 for member).
The qualifier’s first-place finisher will also receive one night’s lodging at the Quality Inn.
Additionally, for every seven entries in the qualifier, regional tournament spots will be awarded. In 2011, about a half-dozen spots were awarded based on the 30-some bowlers in the qualifier leading up to the regional.
Pro-ams on March 16 will be held separately for high school bowlers and adults-juniors.
Also on the 16th, the pros will practice from 2-4 p.m.
“It’s the best time for people to get autographs,” said Bryant, a PBA member who is also Liberty’s boys coach.
Bryant, Bell-Wick proprietor and tournament co-host Francis Zitnik, Liberty girls coach Frank Simon and Hubbard’s Ron Killian and Carol Kozbial and their booster clubs have done the legwork for the local part of the regional’s return.
The high school pro-am, which costs $80 per team or $20 per bowler, starts at 5:30. It’s open to teens on high school bowling teams, whether with their own schools or with bowlers from other teams.
“It’s nothing high-stress,” said Bryant, who noted that each five-person team includes an hour working with pros, who also serve as anchors for the duration of six Baker games.
In the regional’s qualifying round last year, Bryant finished 51st out of 100.
“I was right in the middle, which is pretty good considering everything I had going on that weekend.”
The 2011 Hubbard Open was also the third weekend of March.
“We made a profit, which for the first year is phenomenal because, usually, the first year is the hardest,” said Bryant. “I was told that ours was the largest regional in the U.S. for the year as far as field size.”
Again, the calendar slot for the 2012 Hubbard Open is favorable because it follows the conclusion of the national tour’s regular portion.
“One of the reasons it was successful last year was because of the date,” Bryant said. “They finished in Indianapolis last year, so it’s not too far for bowlers to come to Ohio.”
Last year, Bell-Wick was visited by nearly 15 bowlers off of the exempt (national) tour.
Besides Ciminelli, Bryant expects players such as Kretzer, Dave D’Entremont (Cleveland) and Bill Oatman (Chicago).
Bryant expects the field to grow by word of mouth, but the PBA limits size.
“I’m expecting guys who were there [at Bell-Wick in 2011] to tell other guys of the high caliber of the competition. That would be the appeal. The PBA is pretty strict about how many bowlers are [playing]; they want it to move fast.”
The website is www.pbahubbardopen.com.
Bachinger has 788
Dana Bachinger’s 256-788 topped all women in C-G Pro Shop/Wedgewood Ladies Trio on Jan. 10, when Angela Protain’s 278 was high single.
Kudos to typists Nancy and Joy in Creative Services for their effort in providing the bowling scores recently.
Considering the load of scores they had to peruse, they kept things manageable. They may not have dotted every I or crossed every T, but when you spell Brett Brunkenhoefer correctly, you’ve done something right.