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Marion graceful on alley, runway

Marion Singleton has a graceful bowling swing that's a byproduct of hours of tutoring she's received from PBA Tour star Brad Angelo and his father, Nin.

But Singleton proved her elegance isn't restricted to the hardwood last November, when she participated in the Miss New York Teen USA Pageant in Albany.

"I've always watched [the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA pageants] on TV and thought [they] were cool," said Singleton, the Lockport senior who is the Niagara Frontier League's top female bowler. "I always wanted to participate but I never considered myself a pageant girl and kind of doubted my abilities and how well I would do."

She's not doubting her runway skills any more. The 17-year-old hopes to enter next fall's competition and advance to the round of 25, something she didn't do in her pageant debut.

More than 100 competitors participated last fall in the three-day event, the winner of which represents the state in the Miss Teen USA Pageant in August.

Singleton -- who carries a weighted average of 96.006 and is entertaining academic and partial athletic scholarship offers from Vanderbilt, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State and Delaware State -- received a postcard in the mail about applying for the event and satisfied her curiosity by sending in a photo to pageant organizers, who were impressed enough to send her the paper work to enter the contest.

"It was great," said Singleton, whose 220 average, 296 single game and 761 series were season highs in the NFL. "I don't really know if you can explain in words how good it was because when a lot of people and girls do see other women participate in pageants they think it's exploiting women and degrading them. But when you're actually participating in a pageant it's the total opposite. You get to meet girls from all over, all different ages. You learn so much from them. . . . You get to learn about yourself, how you fit in with other people, how well you work with other people and boost your self-esteem and confidence level. It makes you feel good about yourself."

She and her Lockport teammates have felt good about themselves for quite a while and hope to strut their stuff once again Friday in the Section VI championships at Thruway Lanes. The Lions have won the title each year since Singleton cracked the starting lineup as an eighth-grader.

"She's someone we could always count on to shoot a big score for us," coach Steve Jarosch said. "She's not the only important person on the team. It's always a team effort. . . . If it was just Marion and five girls who average 150, we probably wouldn't be in the situation we're in right now. . . . This has been a very talented and hard-working and dedicated team."

The Lions aren't as deep as they were last year, when they had six girls carrying 200 averages, but they still won their fifth straight Festival of Lights Tournament in December and finished with the highest qualifying score Feb. 4 at the Roy Sommer Memorial before losing to Maryvale in the Baker game final by six pins.

Junior Kerri Meden's 206 average ranked second in the NFL, while classmate Alyssa Neglia was third with a 194. She averaged 205 last season. Freshman Jenna Geiger is averaging 181 in her first season as a starter.

Lockport's final two starters average 160 and 150, which could provide the opening Maryvale, Frontier, North Tonawanda or Niagara Falls needs to end Lockport's championship reign.

"We want to win, I think, more than we ever wanted to win before because we know we're not the same team as we were in past years," said Singleton, who broke the NFL single-season average mark for the fifth time. "We know we're not as strong but with that said we know we're still the best team in Section VI right now."

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