Rab’s Country Lanes proprietor Frank Wilkinson loves New Year’s Eve for more reasons than one.
Although the day marks the end of one year and gets set to usher in another with high hopes, Wilkinson says Dec. 31 is special because it’s the day his center hosts the Battle of the Schools.
Started in 2004 as a brainchild of Terri Hart, the one-time high school-only tournament added an Alumni division four years ago thanks to the urging of Mike Ruffe. The latter division seemed to give the event new meaning and make it more successful than ever.
“We talk about it every year. We didn’t know what to expect and then 100 people showed up,” said Wilkinson. “It’s one of those events where you see people that you don’t normally see everyday all the time, that kind of come out for the same thing and I think the cool thing about it that makes this a great event is the fact that they’re not bowling for personal gain and not bowling for prizes for themselves.
“It’s more about bragging rights, representing your school in bowling with people you wouldn’t necessarily normally bowl with the opportunity to win some money for your alma mater.”
This year at the 18th annual event, more than 125 bowlers graced the lanes in the two divisions.
When the final ball had been rolled on Friday, Susan Wagner, consisting of Paul Cherry, Brandon Handog, Alex Santos and Steven Souffrin, won a second straight HS division title, beating out nine other teams, representing eight Island high schools. The same foursome also helped SW capture the PSAL city bowling crown two months ago.
Meanwhile, the Alumni crown was won by St. Joseph by-the-Sea, consisting of Kevin Buono, Robert Butler, Michael Cariffe and Anthony Pizzirusso. They earned $1,000, which was donated to the Huguenot school’s bowling program.
The Alumni division featured 76 bowlers across 16 teams, representing 20 schools from the five boroughs.
After a 10-game qualifying round (baker format), the top four teams competed for the title in a rolloff where top-seeded Curtis bowled fourth-seeded Sea and and second-seeded Susan Wagner faced third-seeded Petrides.
In the finals, the teams bowled two games with the total wood determining the winners.
In round one, Sea defeated Curtis No. 1, 416-358, while Susan Wagner defeated Petrides, 447-418. In the finals, Sea defeated Susan Wagner, 487-435. SW earned $500 that will go to the Sea View school’s bowling program.
In all, a total of $2,000 was awarded in grants and scholarships with funds matched by the Rab Wilkinson Foundation. Rab Wilkinson was the late former proprietor of Country Lanes.
Champions: St. Joseph by the Sea High School (Kevin Buono, Robert Butler Michael Cariffe and Anthony Pizzirusso – $1,000)
Runners-up: Susan Wagner (Daniel Costantino, Mike Fiore, Matt Koplowitz, Sean McAuliffe and Tim McAuliffe, Jr. – $500)
High School Division
Champions: Susan Wagner – 1,903 pins (Paul Cherry, Brandon Handog, Alex Santos, and Steven Souffrin
Other event Notes:
- Amongst the field, 29 athletes were recognized as either Advance All Stars or Staten Island Bowling Hall of Fame Junior All Stars during their HS careers, three of which were four-time recipients (Melissa Kammerer, Erin Schneider and Daniel Costantino)
- 25 PSAL City Championship Teams were represented.
- 7 Staten Island Bowling/Staten Island USBC Hall of Famers competed (Jeff Scire, Tim McAuliffe, Naz Laursen, Jim Episcopia, Roe Quattrocchi, Vin D’Ambrosio III and Joe LaBargo)