---- — I've said this in my column at least once before, and I'll say it again. Bowling is such a great sport because people, young and old, can participate on the same level.
Northumberland resident Paul Leese is living proof of that.
Nowadays, senior citizens are enjoying a longer life expectancy, and helping seniors stay vibrant during their golden years is a daily exercise regimen. For some that means hitting the lanes on a regular basis.
Take one look on the internet and you'll see many stories of septuagenarians, those aged 70-79, and even octogenarians and nonagenarians still posting big numbers while sustaining long bowling careers.
Still, I was pretty amazed to see what Leese recently accomplished.
Leese, 71, is a former newspaper and freelance photographer, and also a regular at Strike Zone Lanes who's often listed among the high bowlers each week.
But I highly doubt that Leese had a better two weeks than he had while competing in the Sunbury Area Bowling Association's City Tournament that wrapped up a couple of weeks ago at Strike Zone.
Leese claimed three titles in the tournament: singles, doubles and all-events. He bested 59 other bowlers to win his singles title with an 824 series, and topped 58 keglers for the all-events title (2266). In doubles, Leese and partner Roger Lebo came out on top in a 34-team field with a 1465 total.
In the history of the tournament, which dates back to the glory days of the alley which was then named the New Sun Bowl, what Leese did was indeed a rare feat.
Unfortunately, efforts to contact Leese for this column were unsuccessful. However, the man that Leese finished ahead of twice in the tournament, Strike Zone owner Mark Derr, had plenty to say about him.
"It's rare for one bowler to dominate the tourney like Paul did this year with all of the best bowlers in the association competing," said Derr. "Paul's feat is even more compelling because of his age. Paul is 71 and he's bowling like a 30 year-old.
"Paul competed against all the best in our association and he came out on top. I would have to say that he deserves big accolades for his accomplishment in this tournament," added Derr.
LEAGUE WINNERS: The leagues are finishing up for the year, and over at Best Bowl two teams were just crowned champions while Strike Zone Lanes recently had six teams take titles.
In the Thursday Night Men's Early League, The Beatles are the champions. Team members are Ken Kantz, Allen Bailey, Jim Jones, Clark Camp and Bruce Klock.
In the Monday Night Men's Early League, Geritol Five won in a roll-off over Turkey Hunters, That's Us, and V.F.W. 5640. Team members for Geritol Five are Kevin Woodruff, Bill Tomlinson, Jeff Herman Jr., Gordy Smith and Skip Bryner Jr.
At Strike Zone, the Tuesday Open League was won by the Sandbaggers. Team members are Mike Swartzlander, Todd Swartzlander, Greg Dershem, James Warns and Denise Derr; while the Tuesday Ladies League John's Team won behind Carol Botts, Allison Fegley, Tammi Fegley, Jen Snyder and Cheryl Shellenberger.
In the Wednesday Ladies League Americus was crowned champs with team members Brenda Bickel, Kelly Bickel, Brandy Weaver, Sally Martin and Deb Rathhfon. The Thursday Open League was won by New Team, with team members Chris Mullany, Josh Aucker, Brian Badman, Ivan Header and Matt Fetterman.
The Independent Church League was won by Elias. It's team members are Ed Buffington, Randy Raker, Linda Shaffer and Dave Shaffer. Finally in the Saturday Mixed League, Headpin Hunters won with Nicole Kirbas, Sherry Faust and Dan Faust.
Three leagues are still undecided: Sunday Mixed, Wednesday Men's and Monday Open. The Misfits and Mark's Rejects are vying for the Sunday title, while The Unit and G&R Charles Excavating will fight it out for the Wednesday title and there is a roll-off scheduled for May 13 to decide the Monday Open title.
Until next time, stay out of the gutters.
n Brian Holtzapple is a correspondent who covers bowling for The Daily Item. Email him at email@example.com.