As the Rochester All-Stars teammates' rolled along at a high-scoring pace during the team event at the 2006 Rochester (N.Y.) Women's Bowling Championships, they knew they were on track to besting their previous year's score after opening with team games of 1,215 and 1,242.
"After the first two games, we knew we had a great shot to beat our previous year's score of 3,551," said team member Andrea Pizzo. "Beyond that, I don't think we could have anticipated our total would be over 3,600."
Pictured from left, front row: Traci Spanitz and Andrea Pizzo. Back row, from left: Shannon O'Keefe, Colleen Celentani and Judy Koester.
But when the Rochester All-Stars closed with an 1,153 game for a 3,610 total score at Bowl-A-Roll Lanes on March 19, they had not only beat their 2005 RWBA score, but more importantly had set a national record for three-game women's team series. The All-Stars narrowly surpassed the previous record score of 3,600 held by All-Star Grille in Livonia, Mich., since 2000.
The team's 3,610 score also gives it the New York state record which was 3,552 by Sue & Company in Tonawanda in 1999. The team's 3,551 now ranks No. 8 on the all-time list.
Talented players truly are all stars. The All-Stars are comprised of five highly accomplished players who bowl separately in Rochester-area leagues but assemble for tournaments. Because they've been bowling together as a tournament squad for a few years, they understand each other's games and are comfortable suggesting adjustments.
The team was paced by New York State and RWBA Hall of Famer Judy Koester, who fired 256, 279 and 258 games in the third slot for a 793 total. The left-hander has several New York State and RWBA titles and is a five-time RWBA City Queens champion. The two-time RWBA high average winner (229) set a world record in 1989 for Mixed Doubles Single Game (578) at the Empire State Games. She has rolled three certified 300 games and two certified 800 series.
Lead off bowler Traci Spanitz set the pace with a 769 set on 258, 278 and 233 games. The right-hander is a New York State WBA Queens champion and three-time RWBA City Queens champion. Spanitz holds the RWBA women's high series record with 846 and has 12 certified 300 games and five certified 800 series to her credit.
Colleen Celentani was not far behind Spanitz with 761 with 269, 235 and 257 games. The right-hander also is a New York State and RWBA Hall of Famer teamed with Koester to win the New York State doubles title in 2004. The Ebonite staff member has rolled six certified perfect games and two certified 800 series.
Anchor bowler Shannon O'Keefe was solid with a 656 set on 229, 213 and 214 games. O'Keefe, a USBC Team USA member the past two years, was a Professional Women's Bowling Association member in 1999 and 2000. In 2005, O'Keefe and USBC Team USA earned the team silver medal at the Women's World Championships in Denmark.
O'Keefe won the New York State Queens title in 2000 and has captured two RWBA Queens championships (2006 and 2000). O'Keefe, who has rolled 12 certified perfect games, broke the RWBA women's average record with 236.
O'Keefe and her father, Don Rondeau, also hold the national record for most career 800 series by a father and daughter with 10. Rondeau, Portland, Ore., has four while O'Keefe has six.
Andrea Pizzo contributed 203, 237 and 191 games for a 631 set in the second hole. The right-hander, who has numerous RWBA team, doubles and singles titles and was an RWBA City Queens champion, has bowled three certified 300 games and has a 780 high series.
A true team effort It was a well-rounded effort by a team well used to each other's games after three or four years of bowling together.
"A big secret to our success that day was team chemistry," O'Keefe said. "We have been bowling together for three or four years now and we all click and work well together. It is a completely comfortable situation and ideal for any bowler. I think that something must have been in the air that day for all five of us to be on and shoot what we did."
"We bowl separately in leagues in Rochester and have great camaraderie and respect for one another," Pizzo said. "I think that makes it easy to bowl together as a team. We are comfortable with each other's games and are able to feed off our emotions."
The bowlers had no trouble conquering the standard house lane condition. During the third game as the oil carried down and the pattern transitioned, the All-Stars made adjustments to retain their carry. The fine-tuning worked well as they rolled their way into history with a national record.
"Bowl-A-Roll Lanes are synthetic and the conditions were more of a basic house shot with fresh back end," Pizzo said. "There was no doubt we could hit the pocket; it was just a matter of carry. We lost a little of the carry in the third game because of the oil transition. We just tried to remain focused to make the accurate adjustments."
The team members had no idea they had set a record until after they were finished bowling, O'Keefe said. It was as if Koester knew something special was in store for her bowling team.
"None of us knew [about setting a record] until Judy pulled the record sheet out of her purse after we were done," O'Keefe said. "Now I don't know what she was doing with that sheet in her purse, but she must have known something great was going to happen."
'Bittersweet' achievement The RWBA will change from a five- to four-bowler team event next year, Koester said.
"This achievement is also bittersweet as this was the last year the RWBA was supporting the five-person team event," said Koester, who mentioned that the New York State WBA dropped the five-person team event this year. "We gel so well as a five-person team, but unfortunately we will no longer compete together."
Still, the Rochester All-Stars will have a lifelong memory of the one day in March that forever made their mark on bowling history.
"I don't think that it had completely hit me yet as far as what we really accomplished," O'Keefe said. "But to have had the opportunity to be on a team that was so focused that day to achieve something like this was amazing."
Rochester (N.Y.) Women's Bowling Association Championships
Bowl-A-Roll Lanes in Rochester, N.Y. - March 19, 2006
Rochester All-Stars - 3,610 (1215, 1242, 1153)
Players with 3-game total (Game 1-3)
Traci Spanitz - 769 (258, 278 233)
Andrea Pizzo - 631 (203, 237, 191)
Judy Koester - 793 (256, 279, 258)
Colleen Celentani - 761 (269, 235, 257)
Shannon O'Keefe - 656 (229, 213, 214)
Congratulations go out to the Spatola Party Rental Team in the Tuesday Henrietta Businessmen's League for breaking the Rochester, New York USBC City record of 3707 with an outstanding 5 man team score of 3745. Members of the team and their scores are as follows:
Ken Mc Jury - 751 (258-259-234)
Geno Bernardo Jr. - 710 (233-246-243)
Paul Le Frois - 756 (231-258-267)
Jim Feely - 836 (279-279-278)
Gene Bernardo Sr. - 692 (223-246-213)