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Johnson peaking at right time

Cheektowaga's Liz Johnson took the lead in all-events at the 75th New York State Women's USBC Association championships at Transit Lanes with a 2,231 total last weekend. This week she heads to Syracuse for the USBC Queens Tournament.

Johnson's total in the state tournament is the third highest in the history of the championship, behind only a 2,242 by Sheila Allen of Westchester in 2008 and a 2,232 by Traci Spanitz of Rochester in 2005. It included an 816 in the doubles. Johnson and Sue Jeziorski (698) combined for the second highest doubles score (1,514) in tournament history and lead that event.

The Bowlers Choice team of Johnson, Jeziorski, Sue Nawojski and Michelle Sterner stands second in the team division with 2,655, four pins behind the leader, Great Balls of Fire of Westchester County. The Westchester squad includes Allen, who will go into the State Women's Bowling Hall of Fame in June.

Marjorie Chetney of Syracuse leads the scratch singles with a 769.

Last weekend, Johnson led the qualifying but lost to Kathy Peters of Binghamton, 210-181, in the championship match of the 40th New York State Queens Tournament at AMF Thruway Lanes. Peters, the No. 3 qualifier, defeated Patty TeNyenhuis of Kingston and Kate Messemer of Troy on her way to the title.

Johnson will be among those trying to unseat defending champion Kelly Kulick in the USBC Queens, which gets under way today in Syracuse. Beside looking to become the fifth to win consecutive Queens titles, Kulick will be trying to join Millie Ignizio of Rochester and Wendy Macpherson as a three-time champion.

After two rounds of qualifying, today and Sunday, the top 63 will join Kulick (automatic qualifier) in the double-elimination match-play bracket. The finals will be live on ESPN2 next Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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>Mercurio on target

Local bowlers continue to throw 300 games at what must be a record pace. Thursday, Mike Zarcone bowled his 73rd 300 in a 774 series in the Kerm Helmer Memorial Classic Doubles at AMF Thruway Lanes.

Three-hundred games are not as rare as they used to be. However, bowling four in one league season is noteworthy.

Earlier this month, Joe Mercurio Jr., who recently turned 33, fashioned his fourth perfecta of the 2010-11 season in the Kenmore Renting League at Kenmore Lanes. Mercurio, who has 22 300 games on his resume, also accomplished the feat Oct. 28, Nov. 23 and Jan. 20 in the league.

Although he is most at home at Kenmore, Mercurio also has 300s to his credit at the old Sheridan Game Zone, Transit, Thruway, Tonawanda Bowling Center, Classic, Manor and Roseland Bowl in Canandaigua. At least three times in the last 13 seasons, he's bowled three 300s in the same calendar year, but never in the same league until this season.

Mercurio, who is assistant manager at Kenmore Lanes, is averaging 232 in the Renting League and is averaging 210 in the Upstate Pharmacy Doubles at Manor Lanes. The Upstate Doubles league bowled this season under the demanding Sport Bowling conditions.

"There are a lot of great bowlers in the league. Joe Ciccone, Ryan Ciminelli, Dave Guindon -- people like that. It keeps you on your toes," said Mercurio, who teams with Andy Ochal.

Mercurio paired with Ciccone to win back-to-back doubles titles in the GBUSBC Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and is entered in the Obenauer Masters again this year.

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Pin chasers

*The GBUSBC Open and Women's championships will get under way Tuesday at AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga. There are 240 teams entered, the highest total in recent years.

*The Amateur Bowlers Tour of Western New York will take Easter weekend off before returning with a handicap singles event on next Sunday at Dewey Garden Lanes in Rochester. Bill Stoddard of Rochester defeated Matthew Slocum of Perry and Greg Lattuca of Cheektowaga to win the Spring Fling Tournament last week at AMF Thruway Lanes. Stoddard had a 272 score in winning his sixth ABT title. Slocum had 196 and Lattuca 169.

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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