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Milt Northrop’s Bowling: USBC adds tournament division

The United States Bowling Congress has adopted changes that will take effect in the Open Championships in 2017 in Las Vegas, Nev. Among them is the establishment of a new division, the Standard, for bowlers with entering averages of 181-209. The Regular Division will be for averages of 210 and higher while the Classified Division remains for bowlers with average of 180 or lower.

All three divisions will have team, doubles, singles and optional all-events.

“The 190- or 200-average league bowler wants to compete against others of similar skill,” said USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy in announcing the addition of the Standard Division. “The current scoring gap between the top and bottom half of the Regular Division is not an ideal peer-to-peer competition.”

It was among the changes made after considering recommendations of a task force comprised of participants, volunteer leaders and staff. The task force used surveys from bowlers and historical data in recommending the changes.

Other alterations were made to address the fairness of the competition. Most significant is that lane oil patterns will not be announced until after the completion of the tournament.

“The task force unanimously agreed that having access to the lane pattern provides an unquestionable advantage to bowlers with access to modern lane machines and centers closely matching the Open Championships lane surface,” Murphy said. “Success in USBC Championships should be based on the skill of the bowler, not whether you live near the right facility or have the resources to build arsenals to match a pattern. This change moves the keys to success back to shot-making and skill, rather than personal resources.”

Locally, venues hosting the Greater Buffalo USBC’s major tournaments make available practice time on the oil pattern to be used for those events.

In another move, USBC national headquarters employees and tournament staff no longer will be eligible to receive prize money, bracket winnings or awards under a conflict-of-interest policy. That policy will take effect Jan. 1.

Starting in 2017, the USBC Women’s Championships oil pattern also will not be published until after the event concludes.

In this year’s USBC Open Championship in El Paso, Texas, and USBC Women’s Championship in Reno, Nev., only John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga made any impacts among Western New York entrants.

Szczerbinski contributed a 675 bowling with other former Wichita State standouts for the High Five Gear of Wichita, Kan., to finish eighth in the Regular Team Division. Szczerbinski shot 713 for 93rd in Regular Singles and his 1,976 was 94th in Regular All-Events. Szczerbinski was the 2013 All-Events winner, the first from Western New York since Mike Neumann took that title in 1990 with 2,168.

Liz Johnson finished third in Diamond All-Events in the USBC Women’s Championship with 2,112. She was ninth in singles (707), and fourth in doubles (1,377) with Caryn Evitts of Waukegan, Ill.

Schroeder rolls on

Bowling in his 67nd Open, Jimmy Schroeder of the Town of Tonawanda added 1,319 to his career total, bringing that to 117,737. Schroeder is third on the all-time list but there is a new total pins leader. Bill Lillard Sr. passed long-time leader Joe Norris of San Diego when he struck in the first frame of his singles game. Lillard now has 124,087 career pins at the national tournament. Norris had 123,770.

Now 87, Lillard was forced by knee and hip injuries to use an abbreviated approach in the tournament. He shot 1,069 All-Events.

In another milestone, Sylvester Thiel of Lake City, Minn., became the third bowler in history to make 70 appearances in the championships. He joined Bill Doehrman of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Norris in the 70-year club. Doehrman and Norris have bowled in 71 tournaments.

GBUSBC events start

The cycle of tournaments held annually by the Greater Buffalo USBC Association began this month and continues until next May when the City Tournament and the George A. Obenauer Masters climax the bowling year.

The Women’s Senior Singles Championship kicked off the tournament schedule two weeks ago at Wimbledon Lanes. Elaine Koszuta, a GBUSBC vice president, won the Class A division for 70 and older bowlers with a 723 score including handicap. Jean Zdrojewski (709) and June Staubitz (667) were next.

The Class B Division went to Marcia Wagner’s 727 score. Louise Clyburn (720) and Mary Curran (693) were next. Cheryl Schweitzer shot 700 for the Class C title, followed by Paulette Willette (698) and Carol Liszka (682).

Scores are not official yet for the GBUSBC Family Tournament last weekend at Spare Time in Cheektowaga, but Joseph. J. Lent and Ryan J. Lent of Cheektowaga top the Father-Child Division, combining for a 1,373. That was 23 pins better than Timothy and Declan Stiles of Orchard Park. Terry and Mattingly Selk of Lancaster were next with 1,348. Sara Snyder, the New York State Classified Division Queens champion and Section VI girls champion, and her dad, Robert P. Snyder of Depew, shot 1,211 for 22nd place.

Ruth and Emily Brock of Orchard Park led the Mother-Child Division with 1,318. Julie Anne Miller and Raeanne Armbruster of West Seneca (1,307) and Laura and Emma Clabeaux of Orchard Park (1,280) were next.

David Wagner and Abigail Wilczak of West Seneca won the Adult-Child Division with 1,401 followed by Tyler and Alyssa Jensen (1,371) of Orchard Park and Robert P. Snyder and Kelly Normandin of Amherst (1,360).

Among the competitors was Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and GBUSBC Hall of Famer Art Jeziorski, who bowled with his granddaughter, Robin Jeziorski. They combined for a 1,300.

U.S. shut out

The U.S. went 0 for 2 in the 51st QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup this week in Las Vegas. Individual titles were won by Clara Guerrero of Colombia and Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong. It was the second World Cup title in a row for Guerrero, who defeated Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, in the title match, 2-0. Hong defeated South Africa’s Francois Louw, 2-0, in the men’s final at Sam’s Town Bowling Center.

Guerrero was the lone U.S. women’s representative. Teen phenom Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn., the U.S. male representative, finished 23rd. Doyle, 18, is the youngest person in USBC history to bowl (at age 11) an 800 series and the third-youngest (at age 10) to bowl a USBC sanctioned 300. Also he is the youngest money winner in the history of the Professional Bowling Association when he finished 30th in a regional tournament in Canton, Ga., five years ago.

Guerrero, who won the title last year in Wroclaw, Poland, defeated Pluhowsky in back-to-back games, 202-177 and 243-238, to take the title.