It’s been a big week for Melanie Hannon of Cheektowaga and the Fairleigh Dickinson University women’s bowling team.
Hannon, a sophomore at FDU and former Maryvale standout, was named Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Bowler of the Week after she led the team to the Northeast Conference championship and the No. 2 seed among the eight teams selected to compete in next month’s NCAA Championship. It starts April 9 at Tropicana Lanes in St. Louis.
Fairleigh Dickinson will be seeking its third NCAA title and first since 2010 in its seventh straight appearance in the national championship.
Hannon was the MVP of the Northeast Conference championships last weekend in Howell, N.J. FDU made it to the title match undefeated. Defending conference tournament champion Sacred Heart came out of the losers’ bracket in the double-elimination event. The Connecticut team forced a second match by defeating FDU, 4-2, in the final.
The Knights, however, won the final match, 4-0. Despite regular-season success, it was the first conference tournament title for Fairleigh since 2011.
“We have had a lot of success in the conference in the past, regular season, No. 1 seeds, but we,” have fallen short, “in the conference championship, so we really wanted to play well and it all came true,” said coach Mike LoPresti.
Hannon tallied the highest Baker-frame average on the team (201.9) and threw 20 strikes against 44 attempts. She posted a .944 non-split spare percentage and left just five frames open over the two-day championship.
Nebraska is the No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The others in the field are No. 3 Arkansas State, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 5 Central Missouri, No. 6 Sam Houston State, No. 7 Stephen F. Austin and No. 8 Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Activity heating up
Basketball has its March Madness. Bowling’s madness begins in March and goes right through to May.
With league seasons wrapping up, a lot of attention turns to the city and state championships as well as the USBC national tournaments.
The USBC Championship is already underway, of course, in El Paso, Texas. The USBC Women’s Championship will begin on April 9 at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.
There will be plenty of action on the state level.
Already, Tom Solimine Jr., last year’s runner-up, won the New York State Masters at Spare Time Lanes in Latham with a 387-341 victory over John Bickel of Slingerlands two weeks ago. Solimine actually lives over the border in Danbury, Conn., but bowls in Westchester County.
With the Masters so far away, there was a light – almost non-existent – New York representation in the record field of 113.
The lone Buffalo area competitor was a big name though.
Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga shot 1,065 in qualifying that was led by PBA Tour pro Brian LeClair of Delmar, who shot 1,179. Johnson made it through a first round of match play with a 407-396 victory over Chad Rotter of Malone before losing to Alex Weglarz of Schaghticoke, 384-374.
Liz will lead the WNY representation in the 44th New York State USBC Queens Tournament at Thunderbird Lanes in Syracuse starting April 18.
Besides Johnson, Julie Selk, Michelle Sterner, Marion Singleton, Susanne Nawojski, Sue Jeziorski, Krista Voelker-Burt, Kathy Geissler and Betty Singleton are among the 128 entries.
The 79th state women’s championship will run from April 10 to May 17 at AMF Strike ’N Spare Lanes in Mattydale near Syracuse.
Buffalo should be well represented in the 91st State Open Championship at AMF Airport Lanes April 11 to May 3.
A league of their own
Many of the top PBA players are in Portland, Maine, this weekend for the PBA League matches and the PBA Xtra Frame Shootout. League quarterfinal matches will be shown on ESPN at 5 p.m. on Sunday from Bayside Bowl.
Local pros Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga and John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda are among the PBA League bowlers but won’t be in the two matches that will be featured on television Sunday.
Sunday’s first quarterfinal will feature the New York City WTT KingPins (Pete Weber, D.J. Archer, Amleto Monacelli, Scott Norton and Mike Fagan) vs. the Brooklyn Styles (Sean Rash, Parker Bohn III, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Tom Smallwood and Jason Sterner). The second will be the Philadelphia Hitmen (Dom Barrett, Dave Wodka, Rhino Page, Chris Loschetter and Ryan Shafer) vs. the Silver Lake Atom Splitters (Chris Barnes, Tom Daugherty, Craig Nidiffer, Mika Koivuniemi and Dick Allen). Matches are best of-two game in the Baker format.
Ciminelli and the Pittsburgh Jackrabbits will oppose the Dallas Strikers and Szczerbinski, and the Motown Muscle will face the L.A. X, in matches that will be taped for showing on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. April 5.
The winners will advance to the semifinal round telecast at 2 p.m. April 12 on ESPN.
The two surviving teams will bowl for the Elias Cup in a singles, doubles, trios and Baker team finale on at 1 p.m. April 19 on ESPN.
Silver Lake is the defending Elias Cup champion.