A group of underdog, veteran bowlers knocked off two of the youngest and most talented teams in the Barney's Convenience Mart Men's Traveling Classic to win the title last week.
The Dunn Chevy/Olds team first beat four-time defending champion K.J. Excavating in the semifinals, then dropped a strong Loma Linda team in the final.
Dunn team members Chuck Hansen, Gerry Sterling, Ernie Molnar, Steve Brown, Ed Pawlowski, Doug Rechtine and Keith King came into the championship rolloffs as the wild card.
"It was one of the most exciting events I've been in," Sterling said. "Chuck and I have been in the league for almost 30 years, and it was very satisfying and gratifying to come out and execute like that."
Sterling said many of the matches came down to the final frame, and credited the wins to "a combo of seven players. Everyone picked each other up."
In the finals' first night at Ottawa Lanes Thursday, the underdogs jumped all over K.J. Excavating, 39 points to 6. The next night at Jug's Bowling Center, Dunn had to work a little harder against Loma Linda but still came away with a 53-22 win.
"You get to the point where you wonder if you'll ever win again," said Hansen, the team captain. "When you are the veterans, you have the experience but the younger guys have a lot of strength. It's nice for us to show that the older fellows are still effective."
Hansen also said the team looked to Brown and King, who are both in their 30s, to be the catalyst. Pawlowski, Molnar and Rechtine are in their 40s. Sterling and Hansen are in their 50s and have won seven titles together, with the last coming in 1992.
"They have three Hall-of-Famers on that team and they upset the two top teams in the league," said league secretary Jeff Smolenski. "Being the wild card team, they weren't expected to do that well. That's not to say that they are not a quality team. But based on the seeding, the Las Vegas odds were not in their favor.
"Every time Loma hiccuped, Dunn was there to take advantage," he said.
Dunn's remarkable run started in the semifinals, when it beat perennial power K.J. Excavating on nearly the last ball of the match. Anchorman Pawlowski struck with his first ball in the final frame of the match to give his team a five-pin victory (1194-1189) and the overall win, 57.5-47.5.
K.J. Excavating, Loma Linda and Great Lakes Corrugated earned $1,750 each for winning thirds of the season. Dunn Chevy/Olds took home $1,000 for winning the overall championship.
Loma Linda posted the season-high team game (1,311) and season-high team series (3,723). Loma Linda's Kevin Taber also finished with the highest average (231.57) in the league. K.J. Excavating, which won the fall session, tallied the high team average (1,131).
Doug Brown of Twin Oaks had the highest individual series with an 822. Great Lakes Corrugated's Jeff Benz captured the most points (62.5) by winning the most head-to-head matches.
Smolenski said nine bowlers rolled 300 games in the league, which is one of the oldest in the country and has a total prize fund of $23,000.
In the women's top league, the Toledo Weather-Tite Ladies Traveling Classic, the Lizcano's Pro Shop team won its second title in three years.
The Lizcano's team of Laura Buehrer, Kathy Taber, Shellie Stone and Jodi Dobrzykowski had to make a big comeback to defeat the Toledo Sports Center squad.
After the first night of the finals at Imperial Lanes, Lizcano's trailed 16-5. But the next night at Rossford Lanes, Lizcano's swept the first seven points (one point for a head-to-head win and three for a team victory). Lizcano's won the next game 6-1 and wrapped up the title with a 5.5-2.5 victory in the final game for a 23.5-18.5 overall victory.
"We definitely dug ourselves a hole," Dobrzykowski said. "They had them falling Monday night. We came in the next night thinking we had nothing to lose. We switched the lineup a little bit and gave it all we had. We came back strong."
Dobrzykowski, who moved from the anchor position to lead off in the final game, said this year's team won the first third of the season and then struggled.
"It seemed like it took a long time to get things going," she said.
But Lizcano's was able to outpoint perennial powerhouse A.A. Boos and Sons, which won the second session, and the Johny D's Nite Club squad (wildcard team) in the round-robin semifinals.
Lizcano's knocked off the same team two years ago to win the title.
In the finals, Lizcano's and Toledo Sports Center basically reversed scores in the two rolloff games. Toledo Sports Center had a 2,579 series the first night and Lizcano's bowled a 2,589 the second night.
"Anymore, anyone can beat anyone in this league," Dobrzykowski said. "We just knocked down more pins at the right time. But what makes it gratifying is that we came back from such a large deficit. We're friends as well as teammates, and we really dug down deep."
Lizcano's won $400 for its comeback effort, while the winner of each third earned $518. The total prize fund was nearly $13,000.
Dobrzykowski also posted the highest average (216.17), edging out Tricia Rettig (216.11) of AA Boos and Sons. Katie Hahn, of the Miss Lucille Catering team, had the only 300 this season. Stone recorded the highest series, 743. Toledo Sports Center finished with the high team game (972) and high series (2,791).
The seniors also wrapped up their third season with the Ansberg West Funeral Home team winning the Ed Schmidt Senior Traveling Classic championship.
For the first time in its brief history, the senior league came down to a postseason rolloff. The Ansberg West team, which won the first half, defeated the second-half winner, Shotmaker Pro Shop, three games to one.
Ansberg's team of Gary Simons, Bill Sellers, Stan Kruzel and Bob Noonan shot games of 992, 918 and 913 for a 2,823 series at Imperial.
Simons finished with the season's high average (221.3), and Jim Richardson had the second-highest (220.8).
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