Since the demise of the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour, the United States Bowling Congress Queens Tournament has stood alone as the premier women-only event of the season.
Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix will begin her defense of the Queens title next Saturday in Matthews, N.C. where Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga again is expected to be a serious contender for the $30,000 top prize.
Last year in Reno, Johnson suffered a heart-breaking loss in the finals. After leading virtually all the way through qualifying and topping the winners bracket in the double elimination event, she lost twice to Pluhowsky in the finals and had to settle for second place.
In 2004, Johnson rebounded from a loss in her first match and battled through the losers bracket only to lose in the first match of the stepladder finals.
Pluhowsky, a 24-year-old left-hander who was a Team USA member and led the University of Nebraska to three national titles, defeated three former PWBA Tour stars to win the title last year. She knows it will be difficult to repeat.
"I think if I go there trying to defend my title, it will be too much pressure," said Pluhowsky.
Since last year, Johnson continued her quest to earn an exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour. She entered nearly all of the Tour qualifiers this past season but was unable to make a breakthrough victory.
The Queens begins with 10 qualifying games over two days. After the cut to 100, five more qualifying games will be held to determine the 63 who will enter match play with Pluhowsky.
The finals will be televised on May 2 (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).
Griffs' Maduri honored
Peter Maduri of Canisius College, where bowling is a club sport, made honorable mention All-America as chosen by the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association. Maduri also made Academic All-America.
The former Tonawanda High star posted the seventh-best average (204.50 for 48 games) among collegiate bowlers in the nation. He finished in the top 10 in six of the seven events he entered, including a first-place finish in the Big Red Invitational at Cornell and third-place finishes in the Keystone Quaker Classic and the Schenectady Invitational.
Erik Westfield (Maryvale) of Erie Community College had the 16th best average in the nation, 201.962 for 52 games in seven events. That included a first-place in the Schenectady Invitational, where he averaged 228.500.
Singleton comes close
A Game Seven loss to Vanderbilt, 198-150 (Baker scoring), cost freshman star Marion Singleton and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks the NCAA Women's Bowling championship last week in Apopka, Fla. Singleton, a former Lockport High star, made the All-Tournament team.
Vandy won the first two games of the best-of-seven final, but UMES came back to even the match after coach Sharon Brummell shuffled her lineup, moving Singleton to the No. 2 spot from the anchor position. UMES then had to come back to win Game Six, 235-178, to stay alive. Earlier in the tournament, the Hawks defeated top qualifier Fairleigh Dickinson, then eliminated powerful Nebraska.
Johns still in lead
Eric Johns of Niagara Falls (971) and John Masiello of Kenmore (931) stand first and third in senior singles at the USBC/Storm Bowlers Journal Tournament in Reno, Nev. and still own the lead in the doubles with 1,902. Mike Faliero of West Seneca is fourth in open singles with 972. Falier and Dave Guindon of West Seneca are third in doubles with 1,865.
George Spencer, a machinist from Kenmore, won last week's Amateur Bowlers Tour event at Voelker's Lanes, with a 240-176 win over Tony Moffee in the Masters Division finals. Zack Barlow defeated Vincent Fermo, 243-189, to win in the Classic Division. It was his second ABT title.
J.R. Raymond, who was a second team All-America selection as a freshman at Saginaw Valley State, made the trek from Michigan and won the $6,000 top prize in the Bud Light Challenge No. 6 at AMF Thruway Lanes. Top local finisher was Mike Sadowy of Buffalo, who won $400 for his 10th place finish.
Adam Jozwiak of Lockport, who had the top six-game total of 1,362, was one of six bowlers who qualified for the Teen Masters Finals this summer in Las Vegas in the qualifier held two weeks ago at the Broadway Sports Center. Jozwiak posted a 1,362. Justin Taylor of Syracuse (1,261), Jake Hayes of Niagara Falls (1,219), Brandy Hensley of Pennsylvania (1,205), Kim Yioulos of Rochester (1,150) and Dave Zajac of Niagara Falls (1,189) were the others who made it to the finals from the Broadway qualifier.
Ryan Ciminelli (2004) and John Szczerbinski (2005) were recent national Teen Masters champions from Western New York.
Ray Edwards of Middle Island won the PBA East Regional Byllye Lanes Open in Bradford, Pa. last weekend, Edwards defeated Tim Kriner of Shippensburg, Pa., 257-202, in the title match of the only PBA Regional scheduled close to Western New York this season. Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., the first women to earn an exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour, finished 33rd. Doug Taylor of Jamestown wa 22nd.
The Jamestown Bowling Company will hold a Win A Spot Tournament today starting at 10 a.m. for a berth in the PBA Senior Regional scheduled June 1-3 at JBC. One out of seven entries age 50 and over will win a post in the regional.