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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2007

Local trio to be inducted into Greater Toledo hall of fame

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Toledo's bowling hall of fame will welcome a trio of well-known and highly accomplished standouts next month.

Jeff Kwiatkowski, Jeff Kruzel, and Ivadell Banks will be inducted into the Greater Toledo United States Bowling Congress Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 10.

Kwiatkowski and Kruzel, who also are teammates, will be inducted in the category of Superior Performance and Banks will go in under the Meritorious Service category.

The hall of fame class of 2007 will be inducted during a banquet at St. Clement's Community Center on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m.

"It is quite special," Kruzel said. "I guess I paid my dues over the years. I see all of the names up on the wall and those are all guys I used to go see."

"We've been friends since we bowled together in juniors," Kwiatkowski said. "The last eight years have been great. We decided to put our applications [for the hall of fame] in at the same time."

Kruzel, who began bowling at age 7, will follow his father, Stan, into the hall.

"It's nice that we can both enjoy and compete in the same sport," Kruzel said. "It's nice for both of us to be recognized."

Kruzel, a Toledoan, said it also is special to be going in at the same time as his teammate.

"We've been able to push each other to excel," Kruzel said. "It helped both of us get to where we are today."

Kwiatkowski and Kruzel have been pivotal members of the area's most dominant team. They've bowled on a team that has captured the Traveling Classic, the area's top men's league, four straight times. Over the last 10 years, the Loma-Linda/Ventura's team has finished first or second every year but once.

"If there is one thing that's more meaningful than anything else, it's having been a part of those Loma Linda teams. That's a highlight," Kruzel said. "Anything that dealt with team competition is what I like the most. The camaraderie and competition is great. When one person bowls it's like all of us are bowling."

Kruzel also was named to the Toledo All-Star team multiple times and has captured two state titles with those teams.

In his career, Kruzel has bowled 42 300 games and 38 series of 800 or better. His personal high series of 867 in the early 1990s also set a new city record at the time.

Kruzel is a two-time all-events winner in the City Tournament. He also has claimed two team titles and one doubles championship in Toledo's top tournament. Kruzel also captured first-place trophies at the Pot of Gold, Keith Dudley Memorial, Lido's Challenge, and the Toledo Masters tournaments.

At the national ABC Championships, Kruzel's highest finishes have been third in singles, fourth in all-events, and 13th in the team competition. In 14 years at the event, Kruzel has maintained a 213 average. Kruzel has also earned a PBA regional doubles title while bowling with Emilio Mora, Jr.

Kwiatkowski, who grew up in Maumee and now lives in Sylvania, enjoyed early success in junior leagues and high school leagues. He parlayed that into a successful career as an adult.

"The biggest thing about all of it is being a part of the local bowling community. It's the people I've met," Kwiatkowski said. "My network of people is overwhelming."

The 38-year-old won his first tournament shortly after graduating from high school when he took first place in the Strike it Rich tournament in 1988. He would repeat that feat in 1992.

Kwiatkowski also won the 1991 Westland Sweeper and the 1994 Pot of Gold.

"To come in [to the hall] with guys like Chuck Hansen, Gerry Sterling, Jeff Smolenski, Ernie Molnar, and Ed Pawlowski is incredible," Kwiatkowski said.

The highlight of his career came in 1995 when Kwiatkowski bowled better than 90,000 participants in the ABC Championships in Reno. The premier national event attracted its largest field in the nearly 100 years and Kwiatkowski was crowned all-events champion with a combined nine-game score of 2,191.

"I had it in my head that a 2,200 would give me a chance. It all fell into place," Kwiatkowski said. "I had to wait four months to find out if it would hold up. It required a lot of luck and skill. But it all came together and it's something no one can take away from you."

In the Sept. 11, 1995, issue of Sports Illustrated, Kwiatkowski was featured for his accomplishment. Kwiatkowski also finished 11th place in the all-events category in 1993.

In 1998-99, Kwiatkowski led Toledo's pre-eminent league with a 230 average. He has shot 29 perfect games and his career-best series is an 836.

Kwiatkowski also has enjoyed success in the Toledo City Tournament, capturing two team titles and one doubles title. His most recent tournament win came in the 2007 Toledo Masters in March.

"That was the one tournament that I had never won," Kwiatkowski said. "To be able to win that is just icing on the cake."

Banks began bowling in the Toledo area in the late 1930s and she continues to bowl and to serve as a league officer 69 years later.

"I've always been sports-minded," Banks said. "I've always been interested in sports. I just like the whole game of bowling."

Banks, who recently turned 90 years old, always looked at bowling as a way to help others. She said she especially enjoys the camaraderie.

"I started bowling when I was 21 and I've had all kinds of friendships," Banks said.

The Toledoan has served as secretary of one league for 32 straight years and still holds the secretary position in three leagues. Banks also has been highly active in the after-school junior programs for decades.

"I just keep busy with all of it and I still enjoy it," Banks said.

Banks spent more than 25 years as a scorekeeper in the Nine is Fine Tournament and served as an official at the WIBC National tournament that was held in Toledo in 1985.

Banks also held the top spot as the director of the Toledo Women's Bowling Association for 14 years.

"I'd try to do anything to benefit the leagues and get more people into bowling," Banks said.

Along with her service, Banks also enjoyed bowling both locally and across the country. She continues to compete in three leagues.

"I can't bowl like I used to, but I still really enjoy it," Banks said.

Contact Mark Monroe at:mmonroe@theblade.com,

or 419-724-6354.



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