By Rob Potter
CALLICOON March 24, 2006 For the second time in three years, JoJo VanKeuren and Todd VanKeuren are the champions of the Sullivan County Democrat Mens Bowling Challenge.
On Sunday afternoon, the brothers defeated Dewey Cabrera and Ralph Gandulla 1,159 to 1,118 in the Championship Division finals at Callicoon Lanes.
In the inaugural Democrat Bowling Challenge, which was held in February 2004 at Callicoon Lanes, the VanKeuren brothers topped the team of John Fischer and Roger Widmann.
Last March, Dewey Cabrera and Mark Gandulla who is Ralph Gandullas brother beat Marty Decker and Jason Rogers in the Championship Division finals at Kiamesha Lanes to win the Second Annual Democrat Bowling Challenge.
This past weekend, the Van Keurens found their path to the championship a difficult one. They were seeded eighth among the eight teams in the Championship Division.
But the brothers won their next two matches to reach the finals.
The title match between the VanKeurens and Cabrera/Gandulla all of whom have bowled and/or currently bowl in regular weekly leagues at Kiamesha Lanes was very competitive. The VanKeurens took the first game, 363 to 326. But Cabrera and Gandulla rebounded to win the second game, 387-364. In the third and deciding game, the VanKeuren brothers prevailed, 432-405.
All the games were close, both teams were right there, said Todd VanKeuren, who also bowls at Liberty Lanes. We won the first game, but they came right back and took the second game.
Todd, who lives in Parksville, and JoJo, a Liberty resident, had their own cheering section during the tournament.
Its always good to have your family and friends here to cheer you on, JoJo VanKeuren commented.
Cabrera and Gandulla praised the VanKeurens for their performance.
It was a good final match, Cabrera commented.
It was close, Gandulla said. It was their day and they bowled very well.
In the 1st Division finals, Jon Wayne and Randy Wood defeated Fischer and Widmann, 1,108 to 1,061.
In the 2nd Division finals, Allan Jones and Keith Smith beat Jack Ziegler and Jeff Ziegler 1,111 to 1,016.
As they did in 2004 and 2005, Matt Kleiner and Brian Starr served as the Co-Tournament Directors of the 2006 Democrat Bowling Challenge.
They noted that 14 teams competed in the inaugural event, 24 teams participated last year and 22 signed up this year.
But they are anticipating even more teams next year.
We are hoping to have 32 to 40 teams next year at Kiamesha Lanes, Kleiner said.
The 2007 Democrat Challenge is scheduled to be held next February or March at Kiamesha Lanes.
Kleiner noted that the event is for bowlers of all abilities.
We are looking for the best two-man team in Sullivan County, but we also want to find out who are the top bowlers [with averages] in the 170s, he said.
The format for next years event may change slightly. This past weekend, the 22 teams bowled the qualifying rounds on Saturday afternoon and returned to Callicoon Lanes on Sunday afternoon for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of each division. Kleiner said that next years event may feature the qualifying round and quarterfinals on Saturday, with the semifinals and finals on Sunday.
In addition to the Democrat, sponsors for this years event included Bank of America, First National Bank of Jeffersonville, Charlie Barbuti Furniture, Callicoon Lanes, Kiamesha Lanes, Kohler Lumber, Kristt Kelly Office Systems Corp., Roches Garage and The Beer Warehouse of Liberty.