Manchester bowler still going strong on lanes at 94

Barry Sparks
For The York Dispatch

Jay Rentzel stepped on the approach in the fifth frame, cradled his ball and stared momentarily at the pins. Using a strong and smooth delivery, the right-hander rolled the ball at 10 mph into the 1-3 pocket.

As all 10 pins fell in an orderly fashion, Rentzel turned around to return to a table where his teammates were seated.  He had a twinkle in his eye and a devilish smile. Rentzel, who averages 121, combined the strike with five spares to fashion a 141 game.

At 94, the Manchester resident is believed to be the oldest league bowler in York County this season.  He rolls in the Tuesday Daytimers League at Colony Park North.

"I enjoy being with friends, competing with others and exercising," he said.  "Bowling helps me to be active from mid-August through mid-April."

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Rentzel has bowled with his teammates, Bill Boughan, 80; Cheri Boughan, 73; and Roger Whiteford, 82, for more than two decades.

"Jay is a good teammate," said Cheri.  "He's energetic, always in a good mood and encouraging."

Jay Rentzel, 94, of Manchester, bowls on the Tuesday Daytimers League at Colony Park North.

"Jay is a very good bowler for his age," added Whiteford.  "I hope I can bowl as well as he does, if I get to be that age."

Keeping busy: Although he started bowling in the 1950s, he wasn't active on the lanes for a long time because of work commitments.  When he retired in 1991, he vowed to keep busy.  He has kept that pledge.

Besides bowling, Rentzel leads an hourlong 7 a.m. water aerobics class at the York YMCA Monday through Friday and plays golf.  He competes in two 9-hole leagues and an 18-hole league at Briarwood Golf Course.

He has always been athletic.  In high school, he played baseball and soccer.  He also played basketball for the Manchester Athletic Association. 

Classic equipment: Rentzel takes some good-natured ribbing from his teammates and fellow bowlers about his bowling ball and shoes, which he purchased in the 1950s.

"I brought my bowling ball from Sears for about $15," he said.  "And, I brought my shoes at the same time."His old-fashioned black plastic bowling ball stands out in a sea of multi-colored  balls that cost close to $100.

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While his shoes have held up amazingly well, he did get the sole of his left shoe re-glued recently.

Rentzel doesn't have any plans to retire from the lanes, or to purchase new bowling equipment.

"When you're my age, everything you own is old," he said with a laugh.