A day after winning the third annual Western New York Queens Tournament's Division I title, Liz Johnson was still coming to grips with the magnitude of rolling back-to-back 300 games.
Johnson, competing in the 190 average and over division, Katie Knapp in Division II (175-189 average) and Linda Klimchak in Division III (174 and under average), were Sunday's winners at Tonawanda Bowling Center.
"I was in awe even after we went to my mom's house (in Niagara Falls after bowling)," said Johnson,who will begin her sixth year as a touring pro in May. "I still can't believe I did it."
For the record, Johnson, 26, may be the second woman to produce two perfect games in a row. Carol Norman did it in 1986 in a pro tournament. The only category for women in the national record book is most 300s in one day. Since Norman's performance, two 300s have been accomplished in a day five times but it's not known if any were consecutive.
A decision Johnson made about her equipment late last year may have put her on the right track Sunday. She had been using Hammer balls.
"I decided to throw other equipment in December," Johnson said. "I drilled two Storm X-ITs at the Eliminator (last month in Las Vegas, one of the few megabuck tournaments for which which she is eligible as a professional) and I've tried Columbia, a little Ebonite and AMF.
"(Sunday) I used Columbia and Storm. I left a pocket split in the third game of qualifying. I went to the Storm X-IT and stayed with it."
No wonder. She struck on her next eight shots and filled a spare for 266 and finished the four-game qualifier tied for second.
In the 9th-10th frame rolloff tiebreaker against Mary Mee, Johnson struck on all four shots so by the time she won the semifinal against Andrea Cramer, 300-215, and the championship game against high qualifier Sue Nawojski, 300-230, she had amassed 28 strikes in a row.
"That was kind of neat," Johnson said. "The most strikes I've had previously were 14 to 16, 16 at the very most."
Johnson said the conditions gave her a margin of error of at least five boards. "The ball gave me a little more so when it came back on line it held. Bowling balls today are very crucial, not so much in league but on tour and in tournaments."
Hard work benefits Knapp
Knapp has a composite average of 189 in three leagues this season but her entering average from last season was 180.
She bowls in the Western New York Ladies Traveling League on Sundays, the Bowlerettes on Monday at Airport and the Saturday Mixed Couples at Lancaster.
"I've had a lot of help," said Knapp, who has been working hard on her game. "I've talked to a lot of people."
She credits her brother-in-law, Steve Klinger, a 198-average bowler at Bowl Inn, and Gerald Grabner, who averaged 219 in four leagues last season, for giving her the most help.
"My average is up 10 pins or higher in each league," Knapp said. "I've been doing a lot of tournaments (she was fourth in the National Post Office Tournament last year) and I'm bowling in scratch leagues with women who have experience."
Knapp also attributed shoulder surgery about 18 months ago to helping slow her delivery.
"I was bowling four months later. It was part of of the rehab (recommended by the surgeon)."
Too much softball and volleyball resulted in the surgery.
"There's a certain set of muscles that prohibited me from throwing overhand," said Knapp, 37, who lives in Akron and grew up in Cheektowaga and earned a softball scholarship at ECC.
Knapp was the top seed with a four-game 907 in qualifying. She defeated Debbie Skinner, 180-157, in the final.
"My heart was going a mile a minute," she said. "My friends were talking to me and keeping my mind off (the match). And I was watching Liz (Johnson). That took a lot of pressure off."
Numbers don't worry Klimchak
Klimchak bowls in one league, the Tuesday Ladies Classic at Airport, and entered with a 172 average from last season.
"I have no idea what my average is now," Klimchak said. "I don't ever look. I bowl better when I don't know. The only reason I know about the 172 is because I saw it on the sheet. There was a time when I averaged 200."
This was Klimchak's first time in the Queens after moving to Cheektowaga from Rome, N.Y., about two years ago when she was bowling twice a week. She grew up in Albany, where she played high school basketball and was on a state champion summer softball team. She also bowled at Mohawk Community College.
Klimchak, 41, was the high qualifier in Division III with 841. She defeated Tracy Fitzpatrick in the finale, 209-188.
"In qualifying the last two games I was throwing the ball well and not leaving too many 10-pins," Klimchak said. "I had five or six practice shots (before the championship match) and made the proper adjustments. The ball was nosing up and I moved left and threw it out more.
"After a strike (to start the last match), I had a second-frame split and made the same adjustment, then had three or four strikes in a row."
After missing a 10-pin Klimchak had a clean sheet the rest of the way.
Faliero a high roller
Mike Faliero made the round of 16 for $4,500 as the highest area finisher in the main event at the Super Bowl High Roller last week at the Castaways in Las Vegas.
Brad Angelo and Dave Guindon made the top 32 for $3,000 apiece. Tom Mangione III cashed for $1,000 and Ron Sutton for $750.
Faliero, Angelo, Guindon and Brad Kiszewski were major cashers in Sweepers with Kiszewski's fourth place for $2,500 and Angelo's fourth for $2,000 the leaders.
Around the lanes
PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker, on vacation in Las Vegas, has decided to skip the Winter Tour, which concludes its fifth of eight weeks Sunday in Albany.
Frank Cascio leads 24 finalists Sunday in the Tri-City Masters at Parkside Game Zone in North Tonawanda. Cascio averaged 232.5 in last Sunday's qualifying.
Sunset Lanes on Old French Road in Gardenville has a No Tap Handicap Singles Tournament on Sundays this month from 1 to 6 p.m. Handicap is 100 percent of 200 average with $15 entry, 1-to-5 expected prize ratio, $100 first prize and optional doubles category. Call 822-1335.
Richard McCarthy, in response to this column from Jan. 28, would like contact with former Magna-Pin Corp. employees for a reunion with founder Earl Attridge. Call McCarthy at 882-2849.
Ideal has a nine-point lead over second-place Alden entering today's BPA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All-Stars position round at 2 p.m. at Ideal.