By Milt Northrop
NEWS BOWLING COLUMNIST
After a standout career as a high school bowler at Maryvale and major national junior events, Melanie Hannon is off to a good start as a collegian at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
FDU, which has a pair of national championship trophies in its recent history, has finished second in three tournaments so far this season and Hannon, a freshman, has played a major role.
Most recently, the Knights finished second to the host team in the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawk Invitational. The field of 17 teams included powerhouses Vanderbilt and Central Missouri.
They also were second to Arkansas State in the FDU New Jersey Jamboree. In between, the defending North East Conference champions finished second to Saint Francis (Pa.) in the first conference meet of the season, which involved all 10 conference teams and was hosted by Kutztown University in Reading, Pa.
Hannon twice has been named NEC Rookie of the Week, most recently after she was FDU’s top performer in the traditional round of the Hawk Invitational, posting a five-game 199.8 average. That included a team-high 223 game in a win over Vanderbilt, the 2013 national championship runner-up. Individually, she finished ninth overall.
She also was effective during Baker matches as FDU went 6-2. She had a .414 strike percentage for 12 games in the tournament.
When flu ran through his team and knocked its No. 1 bowler, Israeli native Liat Vizenfeld, out of the lineup, FDU coach Mike Lopresti chose Hannon to fill the anchor position for the team’s match against Sacred Heart (Conn.) in the NEC meet.
Hannon bowled a career-best 299 in the last game to lead the Section VI All-Star team to the state public schools championship last March. Among several top honors she’s received was the Aleta E. Crowe Star of Tomorrow Award presented by the United States Bowling Congress.
Hannon was one of Fairleigh Dickinson’s prize recruits after the loss of the top bowler in its history, Danielle McEwan, who along with John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda represented the U.S. in the World Cup championship in Siberia.
Locally, the Erie Community College men’s and women’s teams got their seasons underway in the Big Red Invitational in Cortland two weekends ago.
Led by Elizabeth Szpara (Orchard Park), who finished third individually with 1,067 pins, the ECC women won over a field of five teams. Alicia Alguire (Lake Shore) of the Kats finished fifth. Lizzy Golubski, Gabrielle Damin (Clarence), Jennifer Greis (Alden) and Tallie Popke (Lake Shore) completed the ECC lineup.
The ECC men finished fourth behind the RIT varsity, Mohawk Valley CC and Utica in the Big Red. RIT entered two junior varsity teams in addition to its varsity.
Eighth place by Nate Casacci (Orchard Park) was the top ECC finish among the men. Casacci totaled 1,153 (192.17 average) with a high game of 223.
Theodore Young (18th), Garrett Gibson (37th), Russell Wojciechowski (49th), Chris Bitterman, Kyle Bliss and George Pierce Jr. were the other ECC bowlers. Gibson (Oakfield-Alabama) had a high game of 235.
The ECC teams are off until the Keystone Quaker Playdrome Dec. 27 and 28 in Allentown, Pa., and Lehigh Valley Class, also in Allentown, Dec. 29 and 30.
NCCC weighs future
Not all the news was good on the local collegiate bowling front. Disappointing was the recent announcement that Niagara County Community College was suspending play for its men’s and women’s team because of budgetary concerns.
“In order to maintain the overall fiscal integrity of the entire athletic department, the decision was made to suspend play this upcoming season,” NCCC Athletic Director Bob McKeown said in a press release.
McKeown said the decision was made after an analysis of the cost per player, per sport, and that a decision will be made prior to the 2014-15 season whether the sport will return or be dropped permanently.
Ciminelli on ESPN
Worth watching Sunday (ESPN, 1 p.m.) will be last month’s Viper Championship of the PBA World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas with Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga as one of the four finalists.
Ciminelli was the top qualifier for the stepladder finals. Other finalists are Jason Belmonte (No. 4), Stuart Williams (No. 3) and Chris Barnes (No. 2). The results were previously reported in The News.
In last week’s taped show, Wes Malott completed a sweep of the finals in the Cheetah Championship by defeating top qualifier Parker Bohn III, 243-169, for his ninth career tour title.
Malott defeated Colombia native Clara Guerrero, 214-208, in the opening match, and PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber, 288-242, in advancing to the title match.
In two previous nationally televised matches against another woman, Malott lost twice to Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga. He committed a foul that contributed to a 235-228 loss to Johnson in the 2005 PBA Banquet Open. After he won the U.S. Open in Columbus, Ohio, Malott lost a special “Battle of the Sexes” match against Johnson, the Women’s U.S. Open winner, 194-188.
“I obviously remembered my foul against Liz and losing to Liz at the U.S. Open,” Malott said. “I needed to get that off my back. As much as I acted like it wasn’t there, it was on the back of my mind. I told myself at the end of the match I couldn’t give up and let it happen again.”
USBC event today
The Greater Buffalo USBC Association League Officers Tournament is today and Sunday at The Edge Bowling Center.