Liz Johnson is headed back to Wickliffe, Ohio, where in 2004 she became the first female to qualify for a men’s PBA event. (Buffalo News/Robert Kirkham)
  Competition resumes Sunday when the Greater Buffalo Bowlers Tour stops at Abbott Lanes. The last Greater Buffalo Tour event was a month ago at Kenmore Lanes, where Canadian Art Oliver Jr., won his second title of the Tour season. Kevin Bienko also has two Tour victories, along with Pete Zmozynski, Curtis Foss, Chrie Weiler and Andrew Herbert.

AMF Airport Lanes won the bidding to host the Tour's Tournament of Champions on May 14.

Bienko leads the point standings for the 16-bowler field but the race is far from over. Behind Bienko  are, in order: Steve Dorobiala, Dana Voytovich, Nate Johnson, Carl Kinyon, Kristina Szczerbinski, Foss, Oliver, Tony Dolan, Bill Swiat, Leon Sobczynski, Rob Piccioli, Zmozynski, Weiler and Dan Melidona.

After Abbott, the Tour has stops scheduled at Brad Angelo Lanes in Lockport (April 2), Bowl O Drome in Niagara Falls (April 9), Island Lanes (April 23) and Broadway Sports Center (April 30).

Hannon stands out for FDU

Senior Melanie Hannon (Maryvale) was named North East Conference bowler of the week after she helped Fairleigh Dickinson post a 7-2 record in the conference's second weekend competition of the season. She averaged 20.36 pins per frame over the course of 10 matches (seven traditional and three Baker format). In traditional games she averaged 208.57, including a 225 in a win over first-place Sacred Heart, 226 against Duquesne, 225 against St. Francis of Brooklyn and 218 in a win over Caldwell. FDU finished second to champion Sacred Heart for the conference regular-season championship.

Hannon was not the only Western New York bowler to stand out in the meet. Sophomore Haley Carroll (Williamsville South)  struck on more than 50 percent of her attempts and had a team-high 19.99 average per frame for Saint Francis (Pa.). Carroll had a total pinfall of 1,332  (190.29 average) for seven games over the weekend. This was after she averaged 19.12 per Baker frame in leading the Red Flash to the championship in Morgan State's James Brown Invitational last month.

Farner's 300 is historic

Samantha Farner shot the first 300 game for a female bowler in the 86-year history of Springville Lanes on Tuesday. She shot 225, 300 and 220 for a 745 series in the Davies Hillside Farms League.

Farner, the daughter of  Springville Lanes manager and Springville High coach Kevin Farner, is coached by Dave Guindon. A Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Famer and two-time Obenauer Masters champion, Dave Guindon also coaches Britney Grey and Mariah Gamel, who were part of the Section VI all-star team that finished third in the state public schools championships last weekend at AMF Gates Lanes in Rochester. Grey (Cattaraugus-Little Valley) led the Section VI team with a 244 single and 1,222  total (203.7 average) in the state meet. Gamel (Springville) had a 224 game to lead the sectional team in its first game at Gates. Her six game total was 1,158.

Back to Wickliffe

U.S. Open champions Liz Johnson and Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga have been added to the coaching staff for the 2017 Turbo Tech Collegiate Expo in the Cleveland area on July 11-13.

Johnson, a five-time U.S. Women's Open champion, and Ciminelli, the 2015 U.S. Open winner, are part of an extensive list of coaches and presenters at the event, which will be hosted at Game of Wickliffe, in Wickliffe, Ohio.

Johnson and Ciminelli bowled in college before their pro careers. Johnson was Collegiate Bowler of the Year at Morehead State University, while Ciminelli was a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association All-American at Erie Community College.

Interestingly, Wickliffe is where Liz made bowling history when she became the first woman to qualify for a PBA Tour event by finishing fourth in the qualifying for the PBA Uniroyal Tire Classic at Freeway Lanesin November of 2004. As an amateur, she bowled a nine-game 2,074 for a 230.44 average. Her first match was 4-3 loss to Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. Liz led the match 2-1 and 3-2 after she edged Williams, 210-209, in the opener, and shot 247 and 278 in her other wins.

Walter Ray went on to win the title, defeating Doug Kent of Newark, 268-248 in the final.

Helmer winner named

The name of Kerm Helmer, the late former Erie Community College coach and a driving force in youth and collegiate bowler in the area, lives on. One reason is the Kerm Helmer Horizon Award, which is awarded annually by the United States Bowling Congress. This year's winner is David Yamauchi of La Palma, Calif., executive director of the Junior Amateur Tour in Southern California. He was selected by the International Bowling Campus Youth committee.

The award recognizes leaders in the sport "who have displayed courage, determination and the ability to develop far-reaching programs that provide fun and exciting opportunities for collegiate and/or youth bowlers."

Helmer was president of the Young American Bowling Alliance.

Yamauchi will receive an expenses-paid trip to the USBC Convention, set for April 24-27 at The Orleans in Las Vegas, where he will receive his award.

Pin chasers

X-Pro bowlers get back to action today when qualifying begins for the PBA Xtra Frame Reality Check Classic at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac, Fla. The event originally scheduled for last fall but postponed because of Hurricane Matthew is the first of the new eight-tournament PBA Xtra Frame Tour series.
More than 100 of the PBA stars are entered including Tommy Jones, Walter Ray Williams Jr., England’s Dom Barrett and Ciminelli. A number of top amateurs and collegiate bowlers also are in the field as non-members.

The series has incentives built in to encourage PBA members to compete in all eight starts, and series points are awarded for the top 20 players. There is a $50,000 bonus for the overall series points leader. Last season, Ciminelli led early in the series and finished third behind Jones and 2016 Player of the Year EJ Tackett.

The Xtra Frame PBA Tour series will include stops in North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Delaware before its final event in Coldwater, Ohio, in late August.

X-Rachel Wagner won the girls scratch division with 680 and Spencer Guise won the boys scratch title with 738 in the Greater Buffalo Sports USBC Association's 32nd Annual Youth Singles Tournament at The Edge Bowling Center last month.
Alexis Klenke won the Major Seniors Girls Handicap Division with 727 and  Johnathan Augustyn's 851 took the Major Senior Boys Handicap Division.

X-There were 179 entries in the 27th New York State Masters Tournament at Farmingdale on Long Island last week, but none from Western New York. For the record: Rob Gotterbarn Jr. of Garden City defeated Mike Dioguardo of Patchogue,= in an all-Long Island two-game title match, 486-409. Gotterbarn is an engineer for the Long Island Railroad and the 2016 Long Island Masters champion.
The victory was worth $2,500 and a paid entry to the 2018 USBC Masters for Gotternbarn, while Dioguardo took home $1,100.

X-The GBUSBC Youth Doubles Tournament is today and Sunday at Broadway Sports Center. There are three divisions, Handicap and Scratch, and $500 in Scholarships will be awarded.

X-The ECC men's team will compete in the USBC Intercollegiate Singles and Team Championships Sectional Qualifier next weekend at AMF Parkway Lanes in Allentown, Pa., It's one of four sectional qualifiers to determine the teams that will be competing for the Kerm Helmer Cup in the Intercollegiate nationals starting April 19 in Baton Rouge, La.

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