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Published: Wednesday, 3/13/2002

Sport bowling can test your will

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

So you saw the low scores at the PBA World Championship and now you think you can hang with the pros?

Jim Romstadt has a challenge for you. It's called sport bowling.

A self-proclaimed bowling purist, Romstadt is offering area bowlers an opportunity to find out how good they truly are with his monthly Masters Sweeper tournaments at Toledo Sports Center.

“I'm sure there were guys sitting at home [watching the World Championship finals] saying, `I can beat that guy,''' Romstadt said. “They just don't understand how difficult the lane conditions are.

“It [sport bowling] gives you a chance to test your abilities,'' he said. “It brings spare making back into the game. Big strings [of strikes] are rare in sport bowling.''

Romstadt, who has been a lane man at Toledo Sports Center for almost 30 years, is often called upon to apply “bowler-friendly'' oil patterns at area centers. He said the higher scores are good for business, but bad for the sport. And he said he hopes sport bowling brings integrity back to the game.

Last Sunday, 34 bowlers competed on lane conditions that were similar to the ones that the PBA pros faced. The winner of the Toledo Sports Center Masters Sweeper Tournament was Rick Steiner of Tiffin.

Steiner had a phenomenal day as he finished with a five-game average of 229. He was plus-147 (pins over a 200 average) and won $550.

Bowling five games across 10 lanes, the bowlers faced an oil pattern with a four-to-one ratio. At the World Championship, the pros bowled on a pattern with a one-to-one ratio. In layman's terms that means the oil was evenly spread from gutter to gutter. The higher the ratio, the more oil is laid in the center of the lane and less on the outside.

“Some house shots are up to a 20 to 1 ratio,'' said Romstadt, who is also the head mechanic at Toledo Sports Center. “You'll see five 300s a night.''

The highest game at the Masters Sweeper tournament was a 278 bowled by Chuck Reynolds Jr. who finished second. “In a regular league, 279s are nothing,'' Romstadt said.

Reynolds, who finished 136th at the PBA World Championship with a plus-4 after 18 games, was plus 133 at the Masters Sweeper. He paid a $50 entry fee and took home $125 at the Toledo Sports Center event. Reynolds paid $400 to bowl with the pros along with other expenses, but did not cash.

“Toledo has so many young guys with so much talent,'' Romstadt said. “With sport bowling, they can compete on those conditions locally. They don't have to invest a whole week. It can only make their game better.''

Two top local players, Chris Hayward and Steve Jakubowski, also tested their abilities on sport conditions and fared well. Hayward, a Toledoan, finished third at plus-123 and won $125. Jakubowski, of Temperance, was plus-122 and earned $65 for his fourth-place finish.

Romstadt said he realizes the vast majority of bowlers just want to bowl one night a week and have a good time.

“There's nothing wrong with that,'' he said. “But I want to educate people. Most bowlers don't really know how to read the lanes. I want them to experience [sport bowling] and enjoy it and learn to bowl on it.''

He said sport bowling might be too much of an “ego buster'' for most bowlers.

“I don't think guys like it because it shows your true mettle,'' he said. “I don't call bowling a sport anymore. The [American Bowling Congress] should have a mandatory pattern. The rules are too gray.''



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