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Around & about

Area bowlers start well

Three Western New York pros and Buffalo native Tom Baker advanced to match play in Thursday morning's final qualifying round of the United States Bowling Congress Masters Championship in Henderson, Nev.

John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda led the local advance. He bowled a 1,087 set for an overall total of 3,286. He is tied for 20th among 64 qualifiers.

Baker, now of King, N.C., rolled a round of 1,100 for a 3,213 total and 37th place.

Jack Jurek of Lackawanna bowled a 1,043 (3,179 total) for 41st place, while Brad Angelo of Lockport is tied for 60th after shooting 986 for a 3,149 total.

Rick Steelsmith of Wichita, Kan., is the qualifying leader with 3,505 after a 1,157 Thursday morning.

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Brubaker-Marley grab lead

Old partner, new partner, it hardly seems to matter.

When Rockne Brubaker skates, he ends up on top.

The former U.S. champion and his new partner, Mary Beth Marley, won the short program Thursday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose. They already look like seasoned veterans in their second season together, their score of 65.80 points more than four points better than last year's runners-up, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig.

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, who won the last two U.S. titles with different partners, were third going into Saturday's free skate.

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U.S. needs win in semis

It doesn't matter that the United States women's soccer team is clearly one of the best -- if not the best -- in the world.

All that matters is one game and earning a trip to London. The U.S. meets Costa Rica and Mexico faces Canada today in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Vancouver, and the winners make the Olympics.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was back on the practice field Thursday, as she recovers from a pulled muscle.

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Dalziel stunned to win pole

Ryan Dalziel's qualifying performance was somewhat surprising.

He knew his car was fast, but given that the team had just two weeks to tune it and then failed to turn a lap in the first practice session because of engine failure, sitting on the pole was hardly expected.

Nonetheless, Dalziel bested Max Angelelli, Chip Ganassi's two-car powerhouse team and IndyCar regular Ryan Hunter-Reay on the road course at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"To get the pole is very rewarding, but it's a long race," said Dalziel.

From News Staff and wire service reports