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Milt Northrop’s Bowling: Nation’s best gather in Reno for championships

Three Western New York pros, Ryan Ciminelli, Brad Angelo and John Szczerbinski, and Buffalo native Tom Baker will be busy next week in the seventh GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling, which gets under way Monday in Reno, Nev.

Two weeks of competition involving 260 bowlers from 22 countries will determine six tournament championships, most of which will be taped for later showing on ESPN.

There is one exception: For the first time in 14 years a PBA Tour telecast will be shown in prime time when the Rolltech PBA World Championship airs live on ESPN on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. Its the fourth and final major of the 2015 season, following the USBC Masters, the U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions.

Missing will be Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga because she is currently bowling in the World Bowling Women’s Championshps in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emriates. That tournament will run from Monday to Dec. 13 after opening ceremonies on Sunday.

The event calendar for the World Series in Reno includes: the Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon and Scorpion animal pattern events, the World Championship, the Mark Roth/Mark Holman Doubles Championship and the PBA Challenge Series (PBA 50 Challenge, PBA Regional Challenge, PWBA-PBA Women’s Regional Challenge and Teen Masters Grand Championship.)

Only two of the four animal pattern winners are back from 2014. Anthony Pepe (Cheetah) and DJ Archer (Chamelon) will defend their titles. Mike Koivuniemi (Viper) and Mike Fagan (PBA World Championship) are not entered. Koivuniemi has back issues and Fagan is back in college pursuing a master’s degree.

Baker, who won in 2004, is among the past World champions entered. Others are: Dom Barrett (Dec. 2013), Parker Bohn III (Jan. 2013), Osku Palermaa (2012), Tom Smallwood (2009), Walter Ray Williams Jr. (2001, 03, 06), Norm Duke (2008 (2), 2000), Pete Weber (1989, 98) and Patrick Allen (2005).

Western New York bowlers have had their share of success in the World Series. Jack Jurek of Lackawanna won the Shark championship in 2013 and Ciminelli took the Chameleon title in 2013. Angelo won the Viper in 2012 and was third in the Cheetah championship last year, one place ahead of Liz Johnson.

Besides the live telecast of the World championship finals on Dec.17, here are the dates the taped finals will be shown on ESPN, all at 1 p.m. unless otherwise noted: Dec. 20, Cheetah; Dec. 27, Viper; Jan. 3 (Chameleon); Jan. 10 (Scorpion); Jan. 17 (Doubles); and Jan. 24 (Challenge), 3 p.m.

Liz Johnson will be among 147 competitors from 30 countries who are entered in the World Women’s Championship in Abu Dhabi. The last Women’s Worlds were held in 2013 in Henderson, Nev. Korea won the team title and the U.S. was in second place for the fourth time in the five championships.

Others on the Team USA squad are Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J.; Stefanie Johnson, Grand Prairie, Texas; Shannon O’Keefe, O’Fallon, Ill.; Shannon Pluhowsky, Kettering, Ohio, and first-time participant Danielle McEwan, Stony Point.

Competition will be in singles, doubles, trios, team, all-events and Masters match play.

Hall of Fame class announced

Pete Couture, who bowled on the regular PBA Tour for 24 years and 10 more on the Senior (now the PBA50) Tour was among three individuals elected to the PBA Hall of Fame it was announced this week. Also elected were Harry O’Neal of Ravenel, S.C., who developed the PBA South Regional Tour into a successful proving ground for young bowlers, and Denny Schreiner, the ESPN television voice of the PBA from 1986-95 and former Tour broadcast director. Couture was elected for his performance in PBA50, where he won nine titles and two USBC Senior Masters crowns. The Connecticut native earned nearly $1 million in his career.

None of the three candidates for performance on the PBA Tour were elected. They were: Bryan Goebel of Shawnee, Kan.; Steve Hoskins of Tampa, Fla., and Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas.

Induction will be Feb. 1 on the eve of the Tournament of Champions in Shawnee, Okla.

Pin chasers

• The Greater Buffalo USBC Association is accepting nominations until Jan. 31 for its Hall of Fame Class of 2016 in the outstanding ability and meritorious service categories. Applications can be found on the GBUSBCA web site ( The next induction ceremony will be held in November 2016.

• The local high school bowling season is under way and Antonio LaBarbera of North Tonawanda turned in the first 300 of the season in his 726 series against Niagara-Wheatfield on Monday. A junior, LaBarbera has been a varsity bowler for NT since seventh grade. Despite LaBarbera’s showing Niagara Wheatfield won the match in the highly competitive Niagara Frontier League. There were two 300 games bowled in the Frontier League last season.