|The Schriefer Brothers, Greg (left) and Barry (right)|
As time moves forward, change is inevitable. And with 'change', room is made in athletics for new faces and fresh talent. Just as the tide makes its way to the shore, so has the new millennium ushered in a wave of new forces on the sports scene. It is of particular specialness is when a 'brothers' tandem stands in the limelight.
A short time ago, the North American Bowling News reported on Baltimore's Lipka brothers and their unusual summer- time surge in duckpin pro events. Now, 2012 has seen fit to spotlight another pair of siblings who are blazing their own trails on the duckpin lanes.
Greg and Barry Schriefer from the Dundalk area of Maryland are now the new talk of the town. In January and March of this year, the Schriefers each won an event on the Pop Whitten Pro Tour, ironically occurring back-to-back at the same bowling center—the scarcely used AMF Pikesville.
In the past 7 years on the PWPT, AMF Pikesville had only hosted one event prior to 2012, and so the bowling center was indeed a level playing field for all who participated in the tours.
The elder Schriefer, Greg, won the January event, defeating DPBA hall of famer, Eddie Darling, in the final, after Schriefer successfully climbed the stepladder from the bottom rung. Then, two months later when the Pop Whitten Tour made a rapid, and somewhat infrequent, return to the same bowling establishment, Barry Schriefer, like his brother, captured his first tour title.
To recap Greg Schriefer's January conquest: his tour weekend was filled with drama. In the preliminary round, he had to perform, all the way down to his last ball to ease into the final cut score position of 872 for the 6-game qualifying block.
During the Sunday, semi-finals, ironically, Schriefer's first game of the head-to-head divisional play was against the eventual top seed, Eddie Darling. Eddie defeated Greg in the opener, which would turn out to be big, because the two ended with records of 4-1 at the end of the head to head competition round. Although, Darling had a superb 777 pinfall total for his 5 games, it would be on the merits of his victory over Schriefer that cata- pulted him to the top ladder seeding, despite the fact that Greg was the only bowler of all the finalists who would eclipse Eddie in pinfall, with a strong 785 score.
Schriefer was in the wildcard spot, but it wasn't unfamiliar territory for him, as he was recently involved in a similar scenario in the 2011 PWPT Masters event back in June. Now at Pikesville, after winning his last 4 divisional matches, Greg was ready to take on all comers. Schriefer defeated Hagers- town, MD's Gary McKinsey, 143-117 in the opening match, and in his 2nd game on the ladder, he would experience an anxious moment, courtesy of Pasa- dena, Maryland's Billy Fritts. In a higher scoring affair, Schriefer finished first with a score of 153. Fritts needed a mark in the 10th to win the game, but chopped 6 out of the middle on his first ball, leaving the 2-3-4-6 split. Billy wasn't nearly done, however, as he made a valiant attempt at the conversion, in which he used the sideboards to take out the 3, 6, and finally the 2 pin, but would leave the lone 4 pin to come up on the short end of a 153-147 victory for Schriefer.
In the semi-final, Greg took on Hagerstown's Andy Huffman. The two combatants went at it tooth and nail, but Schriefer landed a knockout blow, with a critical double-header in the 8th and 9th frames to gain a a 166-156 decision.
In the championship against Darling, scoring came a bit tougher for both men. It would be Greg's pro- gressive sharpness on the unforgiving pair of lanes that would open a lead on the top seed in the waning moments. As in the previous match, Schriefer would finish first, and needing only a 10 frame to close out the match, despite a nasty split, Greg came through with flying colors to shut out Darling, in a match closer than the ultimate 137-105 final score would indicate.
Two months later, when the PWPT returned to Pikesville, the younger Barry Schriefer would try his hand in the tour. Barry picked up the torch for his brother, who had missed the cut by a slim 6 pins.
In the head-to-head round, just as Greg had done in January, Barry posted the high pinfall of all the qualifiers, with a splendid 769 total, and with his 4-1 record to win his division, Schriefer was sitting in the 2nd seed position.
The March event at AMF Pikesville had an abundant turnout, and as is the policy for the PWPT when there's exceptional participation, a "Pins Over Average" group was included as an additional division for the tournament. Randallstown, Maryland's Randy Schaper had a career day and deservedly earned the stepladder's top seed position by posting a 5-0 record—the only undefeated player in the divisional round. Schaper, a 126 average bowler out of AMF Southwest, and a 'one night a week' league player, shot a tremendous score of 758 for his 5 games of Sunday competition, averaging over a 151 clip.
The 7-bowler stepladder finals opened on a high note for the wildcard, Danny Dorrett, as he came out the gate firing against Mark Klingelhofer, and went on to a 176-143 victory. Next, Dorrett would face College Park, Maryland's Scott Wolgamuth. Scott turned the tables on Danny, who hung tough. The match would be a score-fest, with Wolgamuth ending at 173 for the game. With a score of 138 after 8 and a spare in the 9th, Dorrett needed a sizable count and a mark in the 10th frame to attain victory. But, unfortunately for Danny, he punched the 1-5-8 to count only 3, which he had done earlier in the match, to fall short, 173-161.
Wolgamuth would waltz in his next 2 matches, as he maintained a high level of play, while his opponents would struggle. Scott defeated Diane Sears, 159-111, and then reigned over Jimmy Thompson, 160-104.
The semi-final game ensued in which Wolgamuth next faced the presence of the day's high shooter, Barry Schriefer. Barry got an early jump on Scott in the match with marks in 2 of the first 4 frames, while Wolgamuth couldn't get on the board. At the midway mark, Schriefer carried a deceptively comfortable 16-pin lead into the 2nd half of the match. Barry was 'game tough' on his opponent, never allowing Scott deliver any kind of mental message nor momentum swings—whenever Wolgamuth marked, Schriefer would answer. By the 9th frame, Scott was still 16 pins down and would run out of frames, as Barry gutted out a 123-108 win.
The championship match loomed and came to the forefront, with Randy Schaper stepping in to face Schriefer. It was a long wait for Randy from the end of his divisional round to the title match, but it didn't take long for Schaper to get going. The match would be a classic heavyweight bout, with both men trading blows. The contest would prove to be a classic finale to the event which featured each bowler gaining a lead at 2 different times in the first 5 boxes, until the contest became deadlocked at a score of 80 after 6 frames. The tie was broken in the 7th, when Schaper converted a 7-pin single for a spare, and Schriefer would chop the middle out, leading to a 10-frame.
But Barry maintained his poise, reached back, and fired a strike in his half of the 8th. Randy responded by posting a strike of his own to achieve a 10-pin lead in the match. The game, now visually leveled with strikes from both men in the 8th, hung in the balance and was far from over. Schaper 'went for the jugular' in the 9th, planting a jarring ball tight in the 1-3 pocket, but left an untimely 7-8 split, in which both pins wiggled but neither would fall. Randy did all he could, picking up one and one for the maximum count, and thus put tremendous pressure back on the shoulders of his youthful opponent, to perform in the clutch.
|The participants in one of the highlight matches of 2012, Randy Schaper (left) and Barry Schriefer (right)|
As he had done earlier in the day to win his division, Barry was again true to the moment. Schriefer smother- ed the headpin on his 9th frame pitch, causing a seeming avalanche in pin action, and dramatically scored the all-important double-header to re-take the lead in the championship contest. All of a sudden, Schriefer, who trailed in the 8th, was now in a position to close out the match with another strike in the 10th. Barry went for it, but left a 7-pin single in his attempt to shut out Randy. Schriefer's spare shot was 'no doubt' as he labeled the single pin for a spare, and then counted big again with another 9 for a 158 score. With 129 after 9 frames, Schaper was down, but not out. Despite the deflating scenario of going from 'leading to trailing' while sitting on the bench, the resilient Schaper made a gritty and worthy attempt on his bid for the 'needed' double to win, but ended up leaving a spare break, which he converted. Both players performed at a high level, but the younger Schriefer came out on top, 158-148 in a stellar climax to the event.
Despite the young age of each of the Schriefers, Greg at 27 and Barry at 25, each has the demeanor and proven performance record of time-tested veterans of the sport of bowling. Each is most formidable in his own way. Greg has the knack of getting stronger and sustaining a cumulative level of excellence during ladder competition, while Barry exudes uncommon coolness under pressure.
In a case of true brother bonding, there was a scene at AMF Pikesville that was very reminiscent of the NFL's Peyton Manning in the press box watching his brother Eli winning his first Super Bowl. Greg entered the bowling center during the middle of the stepladder finals, and before Barry had bowled his first match, the elder Schriefer was asked about his attending the event. Greg stated, "I came to see my little brother win his first pro tour."
In addition to their Pop Whitten Pro Tour proficiency, the Schriefer brothers have each had stellar years on the lanes for 2012. Greg finished an impressive 6th in the prestigious Eastern Classic. In the 12-game pinfall event divided into two 6-game blocks, he posted almost identical block scores of 881 and 883 at the unfamiliar Connecticut bowling center. Most recently, Greg took the high average crown in the highly competitive Baltimore Pro League, rolling at a 150 clip right into the final week of the 40-week season.
While Greg was up north bowling in the "Eastern", Barry was down south, competing in and impress- ively winning one of the popular "King of the Hill" tournaments, held periodically in the Tri-State (Hagerstown) area at Southside Bowl. Although this version of the "King of the Hill" was a handicap event, the younger Schriefer managed to overcome the additional equalizer pins to win the tourney, rolling a 158 score as the top seed—the same score he had in the win at Pikesville in the final!
Neither of the Schriefers are ones to 'toot their own horns', as they each let their actions and results on the lanes speak for them. With natural humility and talent in the makeup of these young superstars, duckpin enthu- siasts have a lot to look forward to, in the days ahead in the coming pro events.
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