Youth will be served.
The Western New York Bowling Proprietors Association is withdrawing its financial support of the BPA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All-Stars travel league after this season in order to direct more resources toward an expanded in-school bowling program.
The in-school program not only promotes participation in the sport but will offer an outlet for schools to meet mandated requirements for physical activity.
Mike Westfield will direct the BPA's school program. For several years Westfield has run a successful summer clinic for youth bowlers at the Broadway Sports Center.
Eugene "Whitey" Heidenburg, executive director of the WNYPBA, estimates that the 12 bowling establishments each spend $2,300 to sponsor their teams in the All-Star travel league, which competes on Saturdays from September to April.
"[Youth bowling] has become a big thing in this country," Heidenburg said.
The notion that teenagers now consider it cool to bowl appears to be more than wishful thinking by the industry. In January, a Wall Street Journal article reported in depth on the trend.
Of course, it's welcome news throughout the bowling world at a time when league bowling has dropped off significantly, with consolidation in bowling facilities taking place, the PBA Tour nearly dying before new entrepreneurs revived it, and the demise of the women's pro tour.
Meanwhile, youth bowling events such as the USBC Junior Gold tournament are drawing record entries. The 2007 Junior Gold Tournament will be held here.
The Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All-Stars travel league has been around since the early 1980s. With the help of a draft system for players, it's probably the most competitive, if not the best, league in Western New York. A majority of the top bowlers in the area, both male and female, participate. Even the local pros such as Tom Baker have subbed when the Denny's PBA Tour is idle.
What will become of the All-Stars? League officials are looking for new sponsors to keep the concept alive, but have not finalized any arrangements yet.
With four weeks left in the second half of the season, the All-Star standings continue to tighten. Although first-place Tonawanda Bowling Center won its match against Alden, 23-10, last week, it saw its lead dwindle some more. That's because second-place Southgate, the first-half winner, picked up six points with its 29-4 win over South Transit. Jeff Walsh (279-758) led the winners. Ed Cratsenberg fired a 279 for South Transit. Tonawanda, with 254 points, now owns a nine-point lead over Southgate.
Mixed results for ECC
The Erie Community College men's team qualified for the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships on April 26-29 in Rockford, Ill. But the women's team just missed the sectional qualifier in Allentown, Pa., last weekend.
The top four teams in each of the four sectionals qualify for the nationals. The ECC men finished fourth in Allentown , averaging 188.8 per game over 64 Baker games. The ECC women were fifth, 82 pins out of a qualifying spot. Longwood (Va.) is the defending men's team champion while Wichita State won last year's women's title. They qualified at regional sites other than Allentown.
The top four finishers in the individual competition in Allentown qualified for the USBC Singles championship. Highest individual finishers for ECC was Amanda Fogarty, who was 15th with 1,059 for six games.
Local pros exempt
The four Western New York pros on the Denny's PBA Tour appear to have retained their exempt status for the 2006-07 season.
After last week's fourth-place finish in the Denny's World Championship in Indianapolis, Brad Angelo of Lockport was 11th in the points standing going into this weekend's Great Lakes Classic in Wyoming, Mich., where he qualified for match play. Angelo won his match on Friday in the round of 32.
The Michigan tournament is the final standard event of the season. Next is the Tournament of Champions at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
Neither Joe Ciccone of Buffalo nor Jack Jurek of Lackawanna qualified for match play in the Great Lakes. Jurek finished 40th and Ciccone 49th in Michigan but they appear to be safe. Ciccone stood 22nd in points and Jurek was 28th going into the week. The top 37 on the points list will earn exempt status for next season. Tom Baker, who reached match play in the Great Lakes, was 40th but he has an exemption through the 2009 season by virtue of his victory in the World Championship in 2004.
Angelo swept his first match in four games over Parker Bohn III in the Great Lakes Classic and now is 3-0 lifetime (with a 12-3 games record) in matches against the Hall of Famer from New Jersey.
*Cheektowaga bowler Janette Piesczynski's 789 series remains the second-best score on the board in the regular division standings at the USBC Open in Corpus Christi, Texas.
*Joe Mortellaro of Corfu, who lost a kidney to cancer a few months ago, still made his 39th appearance in the USBC Open (formerly the ABC), coming through with a 1,767 all-events total this week. "I know that I'm just lucky to be bowling this year, but I feel great," said the 66-year-old Mortellaro. "The doctors told me not lift over 20 pounds, so I switched to a 14-pound ball and threw it pretty well. I still love the sport, and any time I get to compete against a younger crowd it really gets my adrenaline going."
*Michael Tang of San Francisco, at 10 years, 3 months and 16 days, officially became the youngest USBC member to bowl a perfect game in certified competition. He did it in a 656 series bowled in the Daly City All-Stars Scratch Trios League at Sea Bowl in Pacifica, Calif. The previous record holder, Josey LaRocco of Louisville, Ky., was three months older than Tang when he scored his 300 on Feb. 14, 1998. Tang's previous high game was 234, and he was averaging 165 at the time of his record-breaking game.
*The New York State Women's Bowling Association championship tournament got under way Friday at Strike N'Spare Lanes in Syracuse. The New York State Queens Tournament will be next Saturday at Flamingo Bowl in Syracuse.