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Bowling: Barnes honored at 55th national tournament

Fifty-five national tournaments in 34 cities and 91,796 total pins.

Those are totals George Barnes of Clarence arrived at earlier this month when he bowled in his 52nd straight USBC Open Championship (formerly known as the American Bowling Congress) in Las Vegas, Nev. Overall it was the 55th Open for Barnes and earned him  a special introduction when he walked down to the lanes in the national tournament. He was escorted by Brandy Silva of the USBC tournament office.

Barnes, who is a Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Famer in the Veterans Category, bowled in his first national tournament in Detroit in 1961. He bowled in Des Moines, Iowa, and here in  Buffalo the next two years. The 1963 tournament was held at the Connecticut Street Armory. After missing 1964 and 1965 because of military obligations, Barnes began a run of 52nd straight appearances in the national tournament.

Must be something about the rarified air in Albuquerque, N.M. Barnes bowled his high series (708) in the 2000 tournament there. In 2008 he shot is personal high of 210 in doubles in Albuquerque as well. His 644 high in team competition came in Syracuse in 1973. His all-events high was 1,866 in Tulsa, Okla. in 1985.

This year, he shot 1,536 in all-events with 510 with his Experience team, 494 in doubles with Gary Patton of East Aurora and 532 in singles.

For joining he select group who have made 55 appearances in the championship, Banres received a plaque, chevron and an engraved watch.

"This was a big year for milestones for me," said Barnes, who was an All-High baseball player at Lafayette High. "Besides, bowling in my 55th nationals, I turned 80 last month (April 14) and my wife and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary later this year."

Barnes moved to Clarence three years ago and this year joined the Cornerstone League at the Clarence Bowling Academy, and left the BPA Seniors Friday Travel League to ease his traveling. He also bowled in the Thursday Major B League at Transit Lanes, maintaining an average in the 190s.

Barnes was not the only Buffalonian honored at the national tournament.

"My good friend Bill Hohensee also bowled in his 55th," Barnes said. Hohensee now lives in Lexington, Ky.  Hohensee bowled in the Classified Division of the USBC tournament this year after bowling doubles with Barnes for many years in the Regular Division.

Ken Kazprzak, a Buffalo native, who now lives in Tennessee, and Robert Drewitt, who lives in Texas, bowled on the Experience team with Barnes. It was the 51st Open for Kazprzak. Patton bowled in his 39th nationals and Drewitt in his 26th.

PWBA title for Liz

On her way to earning the No. 1 slot on the stepladder for the USBC Queens Championship this week, Liz Johnson had to defeat two other New York state bowlers in match play. She defeated current New York State Queens winner Shannon Sellens of Copiague, 682-589, and Liz Kuhlkin of Schnectady, 729-499, in the three-game total-pinfall matches. Liz shot a 300  in her 756-711 triumph over Verity Crawley of England to get started.

On the same day as the Queens finals were bowled, stepladder finals of the first three Professional Women's Bowling Association tournaments of the season were held in Baton Rouge. They wrapped up three tournaments that started at California venues to kick off the PWBA's 2017 Tour.

Johnson  delivered in the 10th frame of the championship match to win the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open over  Diana Zavjalova of Latvia, 224-211, and earn her 17th PWBA title. Johnson and Zavjalova also met in the finals of the Queens, which Zavjalova won, 247-216.

Having a chance to lock up the Sacramento win, Zavjalova stepped up first in the 10th frame and left a 6-7 split, which she was unable to convert. Johnson needed a mark to collect the win and struck on her first shot.

Johnson lost to Crawley, 241-211, in the semifinal match of the PWBA Fountain Valley Open after Liz
defeated Cherie Tan of Singapore in the opening match, 275-258.

WNY women dominate state tournament

Western New York bowlers made a strong showing in the New York State USBC Women's Championship which wound up last weekend at the Tonawanda Bowling Center.

The Erie Alumni team posted a 2,806 on the last Friday of the tournament to take first place in the Scratch Division.

Captain Tammy Burgstahler led the Alumni with 768 as the team shot 2,806. Voelker's had registered 2,696.

Anna McIntyre (709), Jocelyn Stutz-Krempa (685) and Holly Parrish (644) were the others in the Erie Alumni lineup.

The next night the Voelker's Bowling Center Team threatened with a 2,707, but finished second with a lineup that included Parrish (711), Burgstahler (678), Kathy Geissler (691) and Sue Nawojski (627).

Krista Voelker-Burt 776 led the Scratch Singles, Nawojski and Michelle Sterner topped Scratch Doubles with 1,440  and Kristina Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda led Scratch All-Events with 2,188.

There were 403 four-bowler teams entered in the 81st edition of the state women's championship.

A UB Dream Team?

Bowling is not a varsity sport at the University at Buffalo, but if a team had been revived there for the 2016-17 season, the Bulls might have had a championship contender.

Consider this: Besides the new George A. Obenauer Masters champion Kevin Bienko, the lineup would include Dana Voytovich, who made the final four at the Obenauer, Chad Mee, who was the high qualifier in the Obie in 2013, and Andrew Herbert of Eden. Herbert graduated last weekend but the others are all still students there.

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