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2012-13 Beat The Champions




You can’t survive in the super-competitive world of real estate unless you like to win.

Jen Laskov, a 33-year-old Chicago broker based in toney Lincoln Park, likes to win.  That’s one reason she was voted “Best Real Estate Agent” in the 2012 Chicago Reader “Readers’ Poll.”

“No matter how difficult the market she always stepped up the game and met the challenge,” one satisfied couple wrote on her page at

Laskov (photo right: Laskov applauds with Jackie Ybarra, r.) stepped up her game again March 10, when she outlasted Franklin Park’s Stephanie Jakubiak 966-962 to win the women’s finals of the 52nd Annual Chicago Sun-Times/BPA Beat The Champions contest at Sunset Bowl in Waukegan.

Laskov’s average from her every-other-week St. Ben’s Mixed League at Chicago’s Timber Lanes was so low – 113 – that she was re-rated to a minimum 120 in the Sectional Roll-offs and the finals, according to ‘Champs’ rules.

That didn’t faze her in the least.

“As soon as I advanced at sectionals, I knew I was going to [win] because of my handicap,” Laskov said. “I had the most room for improvement because I was getting the most handicap.

“So I focused on bowling every day. I came here [Sunset Bowl] twice to practice and get used to the lanes. I slacked off work the last couple weeks, just to bowl,” she continued. (Photo left: Laskov checks scoresheets with Amy Jakubiak)

“I told everyone I knew that I was going to drive home in the car [the 2013 Ford Focus that goes to the ‘Champs’ winner, courtesy of the Chicagoland Ford Dealers,] to ‘manifest’ it.”

She even painted her fingernails like bowling pins for luck – white with a thin horizontal red stripe.

Laskov opened her four-game series with scores of 136 and 139 before ramping up to a 173 and season-high 194. Her 324 pins of handicap– the maximum allowed– gave her the 966 total.

Jakubiak, a 165-average bowler from Brunswick Zone-River Grove, lost the title when she failed to double in the 10th frame of her last game. Her 962 series included scores of 171-216-219-203 with 162 handicap pins.

“If only I had done a little better the first game – it was just a case of nerves,” said the 36-year-old customer service representative for Champro Sports. “I’m very happy with the way I bowled; I can’t say anything bad about my performance today.” (Photo right: Jakubiak receives a high-five from Sandra Dekoj, r., after her final frame.)

The top two finishers had something in common besides being right-handers – neither was planning to use the prize she had won.

“I’m giving the car to my husband, Brian,” Laskov said.

“He wasn’t here today; he’s snowboarding in Colorado,” she noted. “His trip was booked before sectionals. But I knew I’d have my dad [Daryl Roos] here cheering for me– he’s the one who gave me my competitiveness.”

Jakubiak was going to present her new 42-inch LG Cinema 3D LED Flat Panel HDTV to her father.

“Even though I just bought him a new TV for Christmas,” she joked.

Rounding out the top five were Helen Gradowski from Brunswick Zone-Hawthorn in Vernon Hills (226-213-208-248-50 hcp/945 series), Jean Held, AMF Forest Lanes, Lyons (157-195-181-169-223/945) and Roberta “Bert” Hall, Rolling Lanes, Countryside (197-184-167-257-111/916). (Photo left, l-r: Hall, Held, Gradowski, Stephanie Jakubiak, Laskov) Click here for the place of finish and prize list for all 32 finalists.

Jakubiak’s mother, Amy, represented Classic Bowl in Morton Grove and finished 15th. It was the first time a mother-daughter combo had competed in the same ‘Champs’ finals.

Because she came from a league with 100 percent participation in ‘Champs,” Laskov also earned a $500 bonus for the St. Ben’s Mixed prize fund, courtesy of the Chicagoland BPA.

Along with Laskov and Kyle Lane, who won the men’s title March 3 (see story below), the big winners in the 52nd Annual Beat The Champions tournament will be Chicagoland charities. Nearly $2.8 million has been raised from 5,657,412 entries for charity since “Champs” began in 1961.

- Lydia Rypcinski, ISBPA News

(Photos l.-r. - Tinesha Banks was on form with her 264 closing game; Helen Gradowski and Stephanie Jakubiak are interviewed by the Sun-Times' Dale Bowman; Melissa Blanchard (facing camera) ponders her fate while showing lane courtesy to Carolyn Budz)

(Photos l.-r. - Sharon House (foreground) and Sandra Dekoj check out the lane pattern; Patrice Turner bowled consistently all day; Jackie Ybarra appreciated a spectator's support; Roberta Hall takes aim)

Click here to download Dale Bowman's March 10, 2013 preview of the women's finals in the Chicago Sun-Times; here for his March 11 story on the championship round, and here for the "In Brief" notes that accompanied the March 11 feature.

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It’s turning out to be a big year for one of bowling’s Lane men.

Kyle Lane, a 27-year old from Plainfield, Ill., powered his way through the 32-man field at Chicago's Skyway Bowl March 3 to win the men’s division of the 52nd Annual Chicago Sun-Times/BPA Beat The Champions contest.

The Caterpillar manager and 221-average bowler from Lisle Lanes, Lisle (pictured above with Skyway Bowl owner Johnnie Hill), was the only bowler to break the 1,000-pin barrier for four games, posting scores of 227-267-224-268 for a 1,037 total.

His consistency earned him the winner’s booty – a 2013 Ford Focus automobile from the Chicagoland Ford Dealers. (Photo left: Shawn Morris of Ebonite, Johnnie Hill of Skyway Bowl, Kyle Lane)

“It’s a nice early birthday present to myself,” said Lane, who turns 28 the day before St. Patrick’s Day.

The bespectacled right-hander walked into Skyway Bowl with a specific goal in mind.

“I saw what won last year and figured if I could shoot 1,000, I had a chance,” Lane said.

As it turned out, Robby Spigner’s winning 972 in 2012 would have been good for only fourth place at this year’s finals. Runner-up Mike Volsansky of Countryside's Rolling Lanes, a 167-average bowler, carded games of 197-199-208-226 with 154 pins of handicap for a 984 series. Eugene Enriquez, who averages 186 at Chicago's Diversey River Bowl, took third with 979 (264-268-142-223/82 hcp). (Photo right: Eugene Enriquez, Lane, Mike Volsansky)

“The ball seemed a little flimsy [finishing] at the beginning,” said Volsansky, whose father placed second in the tournament in 1998. “Once you found your spot, it was working from there.”

Volsansky and Lane crossed the house together and wound up pacing each other to the top two slots.

“I didn’t know where I stood, but Kyle bowled on my pair and I knew he was over 1,000, so I knew I was in the top 5,” said Volsansky, who settled for a 42-inch LG Cinema 3-D flat-panel HDTV.

Castaways Bowl/Calumet City's Travis Mitchell (247-269-248-174-0/938) and Rolling Lanes’ Jon Sabadosa (237-194-199-223-79/932) rounded out the top 5. Click here for the complete results, including place of finish and prize list, for all 32 finalists. (Photo right: Jon Sabadosa and Travis Mitchell)

Lane confessed that winning “Champs” was like a dream come true. He started bowling in youth leagues when he was 12 years old.

“My average that year was 112, and I watched every bowling show on TV,” Lane said.

“I would watch the ‘Champs’ target show at my dad’s house; I remember how excited I was, because it was the only bowling show on TV from Chicago.”

The win came one day after Lane rolled a 300 in a team tournament at another Illinois State BPA center, Pioneer Lanes in Plainfield.

“I’ve always been on the edge [of moving to the next level], but this year I decided to devote more time and practice to the game,” he said. “I bowl in two leagues a week, usually sub in two others, and put in another night of practice.

“I prepared mentally for this all week,” he continued. “It is so big that you have to keep focused on the lanes and watch the [oil] transition. That was the big key for me today.”

Lane figured his victory might also make amends with his fiancée, who was conducting a food tasting for their Oct. 26 wedding reception.

She had booked the tasting before Lane knew he would be bowling in the finals.

“I’m thinking that if I didn’t win the car, I might have never heard the end of it,” Lane joked.

Besides the Ford Focus, Lane picked up a $500 bonus for the Friday Nite Tavern League league he qualified from at Lisle Lanes. Every league member entered ‘Champs,’ making it a 100-percent participation league and eligible for the bonus.

- Lydia Rypcinski, ISBPA News

(Photos l.-r. - Kyle Lane receives the key to his new Ford Focus from Skyway Bowl owners Brunetta Hill-Corby and Johnnie Hill; Dwight McKinley Jr. displays his award from Sectionals; Travis Mitchell contemplates what might have been; Jon Sabadosa, J.D. Mich and Jim Reitz size up the lanes)

(Photos l.-r. - Scott Bozzi moves to the foul line; Henry Ausley takes aim; Dwight McKinley Jr. yields lane courtesy to Don Purcell; Ebonite's Shawn Morris and ISBPA's Lydia Rypcinski pose with Craig Pasch, who tied for 21st, and his children Connor and Alyssa; photo courtesy of Pasch Family)

Click here to download Dale Bowman's March 3, 2013 preview of the men's finals in the Chicago Sun-Times; here for his March 4 story on the championship round, and here for the "In Brief" notes that accompanied the March 4 feature.

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The 32 men's and women's 'Champs' finalists for 2013, along with the centers from which they qualified and their winning scores at Sectionals, included:

Men Women
Eric Halvorsen, River Rand Bowl - 729 Amy Jakubiak, Classic Bowl - 749
Gary Wade, Classic Bowl - 710 Helen Gradowski, BZ-Hawthorn, 725
Marty Nelson III, Lakes Bowl - 700 Laurel Larsen, Raymond's Bowl - 678
Dave Gustafson, Beverly Lanes - 697  
Joshua Watters, Rolling Lanes - 742 Roberta Hall, Rolling Lanes - 702
Jon Sabadosa, Rolling Lanes - 716 Carrie Palumbo, Suburbanite Bowl - 690
Ryan Perotti, Stardust Bowl - 716 Jackie Ybarra, Town Hall Bowl - 683
Scott Bozzi, AMF Forest Lanes - 712 Jean Held, AMF Forest Lanes - 679
Mike Dlhy, Willowbrook Lanes, 701 Jo Ann Gilbert, Hillside Bowl - 679
Raymond Kabat Jr., Striker Lanes - 699 Stephanie Jakubiak, BZ-River Grove - 667
Mike Volsansky, Rolling Lanes - 697*  
John Ellis, Diversey River Bowl - 694 Wanda Long, Skyway Lanes - 693
Clyde Outlaw, Skyway Lanes - 671 Nancy Guiden, Skyway Lanes - 655
Jim Van Geertruy, Lawn Lanes - 670 Sandra House, Halsted Bowl - 636
J.D. Mich, Habetler Bowl - 666 Lisa Gulick, Bluebird Lanes - 623
Eugene Enriquez, Diversey River Bowl - 649 Jen Laskov, Timber Lanes - 618
  Patrice Turner, Irving Park Bowl - 621
Kevin Kullman, Orland Bowl - 856 Tinecha Banks, Dolton Bowl - 754
Dwight McKinley Jr., Burr Oak Bowl - 820 Edwana Rodgers, Castaways Bowl - 738
Jim Reitz, Pioneer Lanes - 793 Ronda S. Perry, Burr Oak Bowl - 729
Anthony Willoughby, Dolton Bowl - 782 Hanni Merritt, BZ-Homewood - 713
Travis Mitchell, Castaways Bowl - 776 Amy Lutchen, Oak Forest Bowl - 711
Chris Schuch, Orland Bowl - 759 Keesha D. Watts, BZ-Homewood - 701
Andre Jones, Oak Forest Bowl - 749 Melissa Blanchard, Castaways Bowl - 679
Craig Pasch, Peotone Bowl - 748 Carolyn Budz, El-Mar Bowl - 677
Kyle Loving, Dolton Bowl - 742 Sharon Bright, Dolton Bowl - 674
Henry Ausley, Castaways Bowl - 737 Pamela Allen, BZ-Homewood - 674
Rodney Carroll, Burr Oak Bowl - 729 Chris Kamplain, Tinley Park Bowl - 673
Don Purcell, Tinley Park Bowl - 729 Chardel Johnson, BZ-Homewood - 670
  Jacqueline Nelson, Arena Lanes - 670
  Armandia R. Collins, Dolton Bowl - 669
Kyle Lane, Lisle Lanes - 705 Sandra A. Dekoj, AMF Hoffman Lanes - 764
Alan Halik, Fox Bowl - 702 Stacy Royalty, Four Seasons Sports Center - 697
Andrew Cadie, Four Seasons Sports Center - 684 Barb Lehr, AMF Hoffman Lanes - 694
Dave Malesky, Fox Bowl - 671  

NOTE: Scores given above may reflect adjustments made as a result of average verification process and adjustments.

* Volsansky defeated Dave Norton, Willowbrook Lanes, in a one-game roll-off, 253 (215+38 hcp) to 202,
after the two tied in series at 697-697.

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Click on the following links to read Dale Bowman's and Seth Gruen's tournament coverage as it appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times:

February 9, 2013 - Sectional Roll-off preview

February 10, 2013 - Section 2 Roll-off results

February 11, 2013 - Section 1 and Fox Valley Roll-off results

February 17, 2013 - Section 4/Will County Roll-off results

February 18, 2013 - Section 3 Roll-off results

Click here to download the Sectional Roll-off and Finals schedules with squad times.

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Kelly Kulick sets second-highest women's target in history; pros earn $1,300 for charity

Thirteen seems to be a lucky number for Kelly Kulick.

But, unfortunately, not for the thousands of women bowlers who entered the 52nd Annual Chicago Sun-Times/BPA Beat The Champions Tournament in early December.

Kulick, who has won 13 medals in international competition, strung a 13-bagger while posting a 743 target score for the women during the Christmas Day target score broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Her games of 228-269-246 came on Lanes 13 and 14 at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park. The 743 total was Kulick’s best in four tries, topping her previous high of 696 in 2010.

“By far, my best showcase ever, but I’m sorry for the ladies who have to shoot that score [to receive a “Champs” souvenir],” Kulick said later.

Chicagoland’s male bowlers fared much better as five-time U.S. Open champion Pete Weber, struggled to 626 on games of 210-215-201. It was his lowest tally in four tries.

“It wasn’t like I bowled bad to shoot 626,” said Weber, who was plagued with “flat-10 or ring-10” pocket hits most of the day. “I bowled really good to shoot 626. Sometimes that just happens.

Weber noted that his father, Hall of Famer Dick Weber, always used to tell him, “Keep hitting the pocket, eventually it will go down.”

“Well, I just proved that theory wrong,” Weber said good-naturedly.

“I would have loved to see Pete shoot 750 with me today, or even higher,” Kulick said. “This was just one of his awkward days, and he handled it well.”

Kulick’s 743 is the second-highest women’s target score in the tournament’s history. Tennelle (Grijalva) Milligan shot 225-257-276/758 in 2000.

“I didn’t know I was close to the all-time record; I really didn’t,” Kulick said. “I’m glad I didn’t know. In past years, I looked at this like any other event I competed in. I made it so serious.

“This time, I ‘let my hair down’ internally,” she continued. “I decided that if I had fun and enjoyed it, maybe the scores would come. And they did.

“I even had a ‘Varipapa 300’ today [12 strikes in a row over two games].”

Weber’s best effort, 771, came in 2007 and stands second all-time behind Robert Lawrence’s 248-268-299/815 in 1992.

The “Charity Strikes” feature of the telecast, in which sponsor Miller High Life donated  $100 to the pros’ favorite charity every time they struck in the fifth and 10th frames, netted $800 for the Project PAUL Emergency Restoration Fund in Keansburg, N.J. (Kulick) and $500 for Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service in St. Charles, Mo. (Weber)

“Keansburg was demolished during [Hurricane] Sandy but overlooked on the news because of other more well-known towns,” said Kulick, who lives in Union, N.J.

“My family and I would spend Saturday nights down there – a little boardwalk with rides, arcade games and the best food you could sink your teeth into,” she said. “I think they could really use the funds.”

“[Sts. Joachim and Ann] helps the homeless, gets them food and shelter and pretty much anything they need,” said Weber, who lives in St. Ann, Mo. “I had five strikes for them today – probably should have had 10 – but that’s all right. Whatever I can get for them is fine with me.”

Chicagoland league bowlers who beat the pros’ scores during Champs Week (Dec. 2-8) will receive a Beat The Champions memento for their efforts. (Bowlers receive handicap pins based on 90% of a 210 average for their three-game series totals.   Click here   to download the Champs handicap chart.)

Bowlers whose totals were high for the center, or the highest in their leagues if every league member entered the contest, advance to the Sectional Roll-offs in February (see below). Sectional winners will vie for new Ford automobiles, donated by the Chicagoland Ford Dealers, which go to the men’s and women’s tournament champions in March.

The target score telecast will be rebroadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Friday, Dec. 28, at 3 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 29, at 5 p.m.

A total of 5,657,412 bowlers have entered “Champs” since the late Sun-Times bowling reporter Seymour “Sandy” Shub created the contest in 1961. The handicap tournament has generated $2,783,374.87 in net proceeds for charity in its first 51 years.

- Lydia Rypcinski, ISBPA News

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Dale Bowman's Dec. 26 Chicago Sun-Times story on Champs' target score broadcast can be read here, and his accompanying "In Brief" sidebar here.

Click here to read Dale's Dec. 16 preview story in the Chicago Sun-Times featuring Kelly Kulick, here to read his Dec. 23 story featuring Pete Weber, and here to read his Dec. 25 story featuring guest color commentator Sean Rash.

Dale's Dec. 9 story on Carmen Salvino, who did the Champs color commentary for the final time Christmas Day, can be read here.

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Click here for the Chicago Sun-Times "Champs" advertisement with the complete list of participating centers.

Click here to download the Beat The Champions rules and league secretary instructions.

Click here to download a history of Champs target scores, including high games and series, rolled since Champs began in 1961-62.