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Bowling returns to local television today with the first of 16 weekly Pepsi Funtime Junior Bowling shows at 10 a.m. on the Empire Sports Network.

Len Pimm, the proprietor of Tonawanda Bowling Center who represents the Bowling Proprietors Association of Western New York on TV programming, said "production was an issue" that led to the show being delayed from the fall until this month and the schedule being reduced from 26 weeks to 16.

When Empire was no longer able to provide crews for taping, arrangements were worked out with Adelphia to supply the crews.

This led to a 40 percent increase in programming costs that Pepsi, a sponsor of the show since its inception eight years ago, agreed to pick up.

"Pepsi supported us from Day One," Pimm said. "They've always been committed to promoting bowling in Western New York and they agree there's a need to support this activity.

"Bowling is huge in this area. Empire wanted to be represented and the proprietors are happy to be back."

Pete Hassen, Empire's director of media and public relations, said: "We've been working hard to get this done. The shows are important to us and to the kids and their families."

The taped, one-hour programs include the last three frames of games featuring girls matches and boys matches in four age groups: 9-under, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-over.

The eight division winners and runners-up each week receive medals and $200 scholarships are awarded for the 16-week season's highest score with handicap in each division.

The BPAWNY provides the scholarships and approximately 30 centers from the BPAWNY membership provide the bowlers for the taping sessions. About $20,000 in scholarships have been provided over the years.

Future tapings are scheduled on Sundays: Feb. 6 at Broadway, March 5 at Southgate and April 2 at Recckio's. The first four programs were taped Jan. 9 at Alden. The shows will be rebroadcast but not always on the same day or time.

The real thing for Ciminelli

A couple of weeks ago, when Ryan Ciminelli bowled a 300 game in practice, some of his Cheektowaga High School teammates kidded him about not doing it in a league match.

So the next day he went out and rolled his first sanctioned perfect game in a match at Thruway against Iroquois.

"It really was no surprise," Cheektowaga coach Dan Kaplan said. "He's very smooth and doesn't miss (the target) by much. He's very mature for his age."

Ciminelli is just 13 and an eighth grader in his second year on the varsity. He led the team in average last season at 205 and this season he is averaging 230.7. In five matches his series have been 662, 667, 683, 709 and 740.

Kaplan said the buzz started picking up around the eighth frame of the perfect game, not only from the Cheektowaga match but another high school match a few lanes away. "I was probably more nervous (than Ryan)," Kaplan said.

For the record

A few months ago a bowling column recognized the Lancaster Lanes team establishing a team record of 3,734 for the Tonawandas Association and unmatched in the Buffalo, Niagara Falls or Lockport associations. So far, so good.

But an update is required for the Buffalo Association, thanks to the perseverance of Dick Ciprich and documentation supplied by Dave Miller of the BPA All Stars.

In a BPA match last season at Transit, the Sheridan Game Zone team defeated Tonawanda, 3,648-3,506, with Sheridan's score beating the previously acknowledged Buffalo record by 12 pins.

In Sheridan's final game, Brad Kiszewski started with nine strikes, Mark Sobkowiak had the first 10 and Steve Jarosch had 11 in a row. Kiszewski bowled 269, Sobkowiak 289 and Jarosch 298. Tim Frier had 236 and Ciprich added a 223 in the team's 1,315 game.

Despite the big numbers, the team match was relatively close in points, 18-12, before the concluding three-point Baker match also won by Sheridan. Tonawanda kept it close with a 751 by Dan Omiatek, a 746 by George Brodfuehrer and 728 by Shaun Sterner.

The match was also significant in that the league of 60 bowlers averaged 230, which would be confirmed as an ABC record. Additionally, the total match game score of 7,154 is likely the highest in Western New York.

Around the lanes

Brad Angelo won one of the Sweepers for $5,000 last week at the International Eliminator in Las Vegas in which Mike Faliero won the $100,000 first prize. Angelo, Dave Guindon, Brad Kiszewski, Faliero, Liz Johnson and former Buffalo bowler Mike Neumann, now living in Myrtle Beach, S.C., cashed in many of the Sweepers. . . . The Amateur Bowling Association has a $1,000 First Place Tournament Sunday at Airport with with five squads starting at 9 a.m. and finals at 4:30 p.m. . . . Entries close Thursday for the 33rd Me and Mine Tournament at Recckio's, on Feb. 12-13 and Feb. 19-20. Entry is $20 per couple. To reserve a time call 842-6610. . . . Entry forms are available for the Buffalo 600 Club's Bring A Friend Tournament at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Airport. The entry fee is $15 and it is open to all WIBC sanctioned female bowlers. Entries close Jan. 31. Call Rita Pollinger at 832-2452 or Diane Wacker at 838-3019. . . . Postmarked entries close Jan. 31 for the ninth annual Tri City Masters at Allie Brandt's with qualifying at noon Feb. 6. Entry is $75. Entries will be accepted in-person until Feb. 2 by Gary Kinyon (Lockport), Tony Zaccarella (Niagara Falls) or Jim Wolf (Tonawandas).

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