Deceased bowling great Lyle Williams had a big influence on many bowlers with his incredible knowledge and tutelage.

Maybe none more than Diane McHenry.

Early in her adult career, McHenry was just bowling — not really concerned into fine-tuning her skills. While bowling in the Friday Night Early Birds League at Plaza Lanes, Williams spotted something special in McHenry’s game and pulled her aside for a brief chat.

McHenry’s bowling game then changed forever. On Nov. 16, McHenry will be inducted into the Western Crawford County Bowling Association Hall of Fame at the Italian Civic Club, along with Lane Baker and Tom Baker.

The Bakers will be featured in upcoming columns.

This column belongs to McHenry.

As for being inducted into the HOF, McHenry commented, “I’m honored to join so many great bowlers that have been inducted before me.”

If you asked McHenry when she was 23 or 24 years old that she was going to be inducted in the WCCBA Hall of Fame someday, her reply probably have been something like, “No way.”

Bowling legend Williams obviously thought otherwise — he saw HOF potential in McHenry.

“When I started my adult bowling career, I bowled with Lyle and he told me that I would be one of the better women bowlers in Crawford County if I continue to work on my game,” she said. “I have always kept that in the back of my mind. Lyle was a great bowler and person.”

McHenry’s game skyrocketed after hearing Williams’ encouraging words.

“Although I didn’t really feel I was very good, I started to have more 600’s and 700’s series, which brought my average up, and that is when I started believing in my skills,” she said.

Some of McHenry’s best games and series were against men — in the now defunct scratch Merchants League at Plaza Lanes. McHenry was part of possibly the greatest women’s bowing team in WCCBA history as her teammates were Becki Baird, Cindy Crock, Diane Mead, Shelley Swezey and Char Szklenski, who are all in the Hall of Fame.

McHenry & Co. were tough-as-nails opponents for the other all-men squads. On a March evening in 2011, the right-handed McHenry was dynamite, throwing games of 233, 297 and 234 for a career-high 767 series.

The 297 isn’t McHenry’s highest game. Bowling on the big stage in the state tournament at Lancaster in 2004, McHenry shot a 298 game.

McHenry’s induction into the HOF might be overdue — if you ask a few other WCCBA members.

“I turned in my application because I’ve been getting urged by Mike (husband) the last couple of years, along with Scott Grinnell, Rodrick Baird, Shelley (Swezey) and Larry Hoffman,” she said. “I definitely had a lot of support.”

McHenry just returned to bowling a couple seasons ago after taking four years off due to an illness. Did she miss the game?

“The first couple of years, I didn’t miss it too much,” she said. “I just didn’t have any energy or strength. It was all I could do to get home after work. My doctors discovered I had an electrolyte imbalance due to my adrenal glands producing too much aldosterone. After getting it under control, that is when I started going to watch Mike bowl and I got the urge to bowl again.”

McHenry is making Williams proud again.

If you continue to look at Plaza Men’s scores in the agate portion, you will normally see McHenry’s name with a 190-plus game, or more.

Welcome to the WCCBA Hall of Fame, Diane. Well deserved.


Hanks achieves trifecta

Meet Mr. 700: Harry Hanks.

Evidently, a series in the 600’s is a disappointment for Hanks, the Lost Lanes owner and bowling smasher. He only wants 700’s.

The right-handed Hanks reached the “7” mark three times in the last two weeks — 728 and 700 in the Friday Morning League and 713 in the Spa League.

Hanks’ 728 was fueled by 258 and 247 games and he finished with a 267 to end up with his 713.

In other Lost Lanes action, Jeff Keener topped 700 twice with a 713 in the Saturday Keglers League and 704 in the Found Lounge Mixed League … A 290 game powered Dan “Dutchie” Lilly to a 745 in the Cambridge Merchants League … Joe French was locked and loaded in the Found Lounge Mixed League, shooting games of 259 and 275 for a 724 … In women’s action, Natalie Hanks tossed a 258 game and 674 series in the Wednesday Night Ladies League and also had a 609 in the Found Lounge Mixed League.

At the other establishments …

Lakeside Lanes — Mr. 300/800 is at this house: Don Granda Jr. The left-handed machine — who already has two 300’s this season and 121 in his career, to go along with 101 career 800’s — nearly rolled another perfect game, throwing the last 11 consecutive strikes for a 290 game, propelling him to a 754 in the Wednesday Nighters League. He also shot the lights out in the Stewart’s Classic League with games of 257, 222 and 255 for a 734 … Cool-handed Sonny Rauscher also crushed the lumber in the Wednesday Nighters League with games of 256, 229 and 258 for a 743 … Don Eaton was Mr. Consistent in the Stewart’s Classic League, throwing games of 234, 239 and 243 for a 716.

Plaza Lanes — Chris Jannazzo was the buzz in the Twilight League, throwing back-to-back 257 and 259 games for a 712 … A 246 game ignited Jerry Grinnell to a 702 in the Plaza Men’s League.


County tournaments begin

A reminder keglers: The annual Western Crawford County Bowling Association men’s and women’s tournaments — combined this year — begin Friday night and will run through the Oct. 11-13 weekend.

The team events will be held at Cochranton Lanes. Dates and times: Friday — 6:30 p.m.; Saturday — 2 p.m.; Sunday — 1 p.m.; Oct. 11 — 6:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 — 2 p.m.; Oct. 13 — 1 p.m.

The singles and doubles’ events will be held at Plaza Lanes. Dates and times: Friday — 6:30 p.m.; Saturday — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Oct. 11 — 6:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Oct. 13 — 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

According to my reliable source, spots are still available on all the shifts. Tournament applications are available at the local bowling establishments.


Remembering Smith

This bowler/columnist will miss the firm handshakes from Roger Smith.

Yours truly and Smith began a friendship in the late 1980’s when Smith worked part-time at Center Bowl. Our friendship grew stronger when Smith began umpiring softball at the Lincoln Avenue Softball Complex.

In recent years, we only saw each other occasionally, but when we did, it was enjoyable. He would instantly crack a smile and firmly grab my hand, and the first words normally out of his mouth, “How are you bowling?”

I also knew he enjoyed reading my column.

On Monday, Smith unfortunately died. He was 75.

I will cherish those brief moments on the streets, Roger. RIP.

This columnist also wants to send his condolences to veteran bowler Wally Homa, who recently lost his wife, Alvina.

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