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‘Wednesday Stars’ bowling league playing out the string

Troy Gibson smoked a 278 game on Wednesday.
Troy Gibson smoked a 278 game on Wednesday.Fred Eisenhammer

It was just a year ago that the “Wednesday Stars” League at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills was among the most competitive and renowned of L.A.’s bowling leagues.

The 30 teams sported a “Who’s Who” of talent with such elite players as Troy Gibson (228 average), Bob Englehart (225), Charles Willison (224), Jim Nitz (222), Al Vanhook (220), Jim Thoman (219), Rick Auerbach (213), Ruben Sarkissian (212), Bill Plummer (212), Kelly Gold (211) and Richie Gardner (210).

Now the league is playing out the string in the summer. It will be dissolved in the fall and most players will scatter looking for a new bowling center and league in which to compete. Only 24 bowlers or six teams are competing in the league this summer.

Woodlake Lanes will still offer two bowling leagues on Tuesday night.

The most telling aspect of the “Wednesday Stars” league is that it’s competing this summer without certification from the United States Bowling Congress in an effort to lower fees and lure more bowlers.

What does it mean that the league is unsanctioned?

Simply, it means that the league is not recognized by the USBC as a league and bowlers’ honors scores (300 games, 800 series) would just be considered practice scores – and not certified ones.

Gibson (shown in photo), for instance, blasted a 278 in the middle game of his series Wednesday night, falling one strike short of a perfect game. Had it been a 300, it would not have been added to Gibson’s total of seven sanctioned perfect games.

A USBC spokesman said that more than 1.6 million bowlers have USBC membership. As for the “Wednesday Stars’ league competing without USBC certification, he said, “It’s probably a little bit unusual, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Englehart, one of the most prolific player in the area with 33 perfect games and 24 800 series, said that he will be bowling Wednesday nights at Winnetka Bowl in the fall.

“That’s where I learned how to bowl,” said Englehart, who has rolled three perfect games and three 800 series this year. “I started there when I was 5 years old. I bowled the third 800 in the house in 1982.”

Englehart also has fond memories of the “Wednesday Stars” league, where he’s bowled for more than two decades. “At one time, we had 30 bowlers with a 205 average,” he recalled.