This is turning out to be a month of goodbyes in bowling on various levels.
The final convention of the Women's International Bowling Congress is scheduled for April 22-24 in Tulsa, Okla., and more than 4,400 members have signed up to attend. That will be the largest turnout in 10 years.
The WIBC will cease to exist after 88 years with the formation of the United States Bowling Congress. The convention will be mostly ceremonial because the WIBC was formally dissolved as a corporation last Dec. 31. Matters such as Hall of Fame inductions, presentation of awards, the presentation of an historical video and ceremonies to retire the WIBC flag will be the order of the day.
Opening ceremonies for the WIBC tournament will be Sunday.
On a different level, some local league bowlers are saying goodbye to familiar haunts.
This is the last league season for the Blasdell Bowling Academy, which is going out of business this summer. With the close of their league season this week, members of the Wednesday Businessmen's League at Blasdell marked their last night with some nostalgia. Similar moments will be faced by league members with the closing of bowling establishments such as Amherst Lanes last year and Sheridan GameZone this year.
"This league has been around for more than 30 years," secretary Mark Bachmann said. "We don't know yet where we will bowl next year." Southgate and Leisureland are under consideration, Bachmann said.
The Blasdell league's final night was memorable, highlighted by a roll-off for the overall championship between the first half champion Blasdell Inn team and the Francie's Restaurant team from Orchard Park. Francie's won.
"It was a fitting end because their team never had won anything before," Bachmann said. "This year they added two new bowlers, Brendan Komenda and Tim Flynn, and it pushed them over the top."
Komenda, an accomplished bowler, averaged 215, right behind team leader Danny Lounsbury's 218. Tim Flynn contributed his 181 average. Paul Flynn, Tim's brother, chipped in with 213. Paul Kohlmeier (185) was the fifth member.
After the bowling ended, it was a night for the Blasdell bowlers to reminisce.
"The digital cameras were out and a lot of us stayed around for a while having a brew and reminiscing," Bachmann said.
Pros in Fredonia today
Local stars Jack Jurek and Liz Johnson are among the entries in the Lucky Lanes PBA Regional tournament, which gets under way today in Fredonia. It's a combined PBA East Regional and Wild Turkey Central Regional event. Top prize will be an estimated $3,000.
Several tour pros are entered including Dave D'Entremont of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, and Bob Learn of Erie, Pa.
Chris Loschetter, West Melbourne, Fla., who made the final four in last week's PBA Denny's World Championship, also is on the tournament roster.
Jurek captured the PBA 2004-05 Central Region championship to earn an exemption on the 2005-06 PBA Tour. His closest challenger in the Central race, Riga Kalfas of Florence, Ky., is scheduled to bowl in Fredonia.
Jurek and Johnson will bowl in the A Squad, which gets under way at 8 this morning. The B Squad will be bowling at 2:30. The top 16 qualifiers will begin match play Sunday at 9 a.m.
Jason Ciliberto of Gasport defeated Ted Samorski of Utica, 201-186, for the championship of the New York State Masters at Bowl-Mor Lanes in Syracuse. Ciliberto, 24, a lefty, had to win matches over Syracuse bowlers Mike Daley, Dave Brownlee and Patrick Kohanski to advance to the finals against Samorski, the top qualifier. Ciliberto won $1,400. Western New York bowlers Joe Mercurio Jr. and Fran Bax also cashed as semifinalists.
South Transit tightened the standings considerably in the PBA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All-Stars traveling league with a 27-6 win over first-place Spare Time last week. That, combined with Recckio's 28-5 win over Tonawanda, sliced Spare Time's lead to just 8 1/2 points in the second-half standings. Liz Johnson returned from the PBA World Championships in time to lead the Recckio's victory with 269-758. The All-Stars head for Kenmore Lanes today with a 2 p.m. start.
Erik Westfield of Depew and John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda are tied for fifth place with 100 points each in the second half standings of the Youth Bowlers Tour. Penfield's Rich Ferraro leads with 130 points. Westfield is second in average with 222.51 behind Ferraro's 226.24. Szczerbinski is third with 220.57. The YBT will bowl at Doug Kent's Rose Bowl Lanes in Newark on Sunday.
Eric Johns of Niagara Falls claimed the $12,000 top prize in the 2005 Roto Grip Senior Easter Classic at Sam's Town Bowling Center in Las Vegas. He defeated Ken Liedes of Kenai, Alaska, 38-18, in a roll-off after tying at 216 in regulation. Johns had to defeat six match-play opponents before getting to the championship match against Liedes.
Chuck Jagodzinski of Lancaster now stands fourth in Regular All-Events at the ABC Championship in Baton Rouge, La. Steve Richter of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., took over the lead with 2,117 and Jim Pencak of Parma, Ohio, moved to second with 2,116. A week ago, Jagodzinski's 2,069 was good for second place. Richter was also leading in doubles with partner Jeff Richgels and was fifth in singles and team.