By BOB WEINER
For Rich Ralbovsky, mixing an old-school release with some modern equipment is an excellent recipe for success.
The 45-year-old Niskayuna native is having one of the best seasons of his career on the lanes. Known for his full-roller release — quite unorthodox in the modern era — Ralbovsky is averaging between 229 and 235 in his three leagues — the Sportsman’s Majors on Monday nights, the Capital District All Star league on Thursday nights and the Vitalo Classic on Saturday nights. All three are at Sportsman’s Bowl.
“This year, I’ve been lucky,” said Ralbovsky. “Since I went to all Radical equipment, I’ve been bowling great. This is the most controllable ball I’ve ever had, and I’ll continue to buy the stuff. I’ve also been working hard on my game, as far as my timing and my footwork. As long as I keep repeating shots, I’ll do OK. I think I’ve come a long way in the game.”
Ralbovsky was a longtime regular at Rolling Greens Lanes in Scotia, and although scores are not generally high there over the years, accurate bowlers, like Ralbovsky, Cliff Ruth and the late Dick Peckham, were able to get their fair share of good scores.
“Back in the day, I was always an RG guy,” Ralbovsky said. “For many years, I didn’t want to leave that place. I loved that place. I always said, ‘If you can bowl at RG, you can bowl anywhere.’ I guess it’s about the only place that still has wood lanes.”
The Scotia-Glenville High School graduate learned the game from his father, and despite some slight changes here and there, he’s stayed with the full-roller release, known for its steady tracking, especially from an outside line.
“My dad never shot a 300 game or an 800 triple, so for me to have 12 300s and two 800s, I feel pretty blessed,” Ralbovsky said. “My previous best average was between 222 and 225, but now, looking at the score sheets in all of my leagues, I’m in the 230 range or better in all of them. I was filling in at Boulevard Bowl for a while, and now I can’t fill in anymore, because one of my averages was close to 240.
“It’s weird to look back at my game. Ever since Sportsman’s went to a synthetic surface, I haven’t had to change my game that much. I try to stay around the 10th board. Maybe eight or nine. As long as my footwork is slow and everything is in check, I can repeat my shots, and that’s what works for me.”
Ralbovsky, who bowls year-round to keep sharp, knows he is one of the few high-average scratch bowlers who still use the full-roller release, but he doesn’t mind. Almost every scratch bowler uses a semi-roller that produces a much greater hook, especially with today’s modern equipment.
“I kind of like to go outside the box,” he said. “I saw a friend of mine using Radical equipment one day, and I tried it. It’s been great for me, and I haven’t had to change my release. I like to be a little different. I attribute the success I’ve had with the full-roller on the fact that I keep working on my game, and I have also adapted my equipment.”
Often, bowlers who throw a full-roller are better when the lanes are a little drier, because they can keep the ball in the track area, but Ralbovsky said with his new equipment, he can also score well on fresh oil.
“I like it when it’s open on the back end, but when there is fresh oil, I just slow it down and let the ball do the work,” he said. “The only problem comes when I get a little too fast on the fresh oil. I just have to remind myself to stay slow with my feet.”
STRIKES & SPARES
Niskayuna High School bowler Marcus Manzoni recently collected his first 700 triple with a 277-786 at Boulevard Bowl.
Leo Dalpe converted the 7-10 split while bowling in the Mohawk Post 1450 American Legion league at Spare Time Clifton Park.
Joe Mazuryk shot a 247 in the finals to win the Saratoga Honda Open recently at Towne Bowling Academy. Mazuryk pocketed $1,000. Ryan Gill was second with a 216 in the finals ($600), followed by Phil Drumm with a 211 ($400). Third-round losers who earned $200 were Nick Galusha, Steve Ferrara, Jim Thomas and Casey Schoonmaker. Second-round losers who earned $160 were Gene Speenburgh, Steve Wagoner, Will Coons, Nick Miseno, Mike Neumann, John Pulver and John Ferrara. First-round losers who picked up $100 were RJ Martinez, JP Harrell, Bob Faragon, Fran Luzzi, Matt Sherman, TJ Marr, Jim Geiger, Laura Rotter and Mark James.
The popular Huck Finn Mixed Doubles tournament will be held Sunday at Boulevard Bowl. Guaranteed top prize will be $1,200. Entry fee is $110 per team, plus Huck Finn membership. Reservations are strongly recommended by calling Jeff Segel at 439-7628.
Also this Sunday will be the first $2,000 Huck Finn, with a $55 entry fee, plus membership. One in five bowlers from the qualifiers advance to the finals next Sunday at Towne Bowling Academy. It will be a same-day TV taping for the finals.
Towne Bowling Academy’s fifth annual Handicap Team Tournament begins Dec. 12 with a 9:15 p.m. qualifying squad. Other qualifiers are Dec. 19 at 9:15 p.m., Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Jan. 9 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 16 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 24 at 2:30 and 6 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. There also will be a singles event where you can use your team scores. Top prize will be $4,000, and second place will be $2,000. Entry fee will be $160 per team, plus the optional $15 for singles.
Jonathan Bowman of Peru won his sixth Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour crown by defeating Albany’s Casey Schoonmaker, 213-173, in the finals at Hometown Lanes in Mechanicville.
There is only one PBA regional on the calendar for this weekend, the PBA Knob Hill/MJK Pro Shop Eastern Challenge for non-title holders at Knob Hill Country Lanes in Manalapan, N.J. Friday and Saturday.
The New York State Stock Car Association will be holding its fifth annual bowling tournament on Dec. 13 at Boulevard Bowl. Registration will be held at 6 p.m., with bowling at 6:30. The eight-pin, no-tap handicap tournament consists of five-person teams. Entry fee is $75 per team, with proceeds going to the organization’s injured drivers’ benefit fund. For information, contact Bob James at 399-0937.
This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.