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Bowling: Senior Shootout gets better with age

It's a few lines of agate type in the Area Bowling scores published daily in the Buffalo News: "TRANSIT: Storm Bowlers Choice Senior Shootout ..."

Behind the bare scores lies some history. The Senior Shootout is one of most competitive and enduring competitions on the local bowling scene. More often than not, one of the high finishers is Gary Kinyon of Lockport. Kinyon has made the final 19 times in the 21 weeks of  bowling so far this season.

The redoubtable Kinyon and Hall of Famer Dave Miller are two of the individuals who have kept the Shootout going through the years on Wednesday nights at Transit Lanes in Williamsville .

"I took it over from Dick Ciprich," Miller said Friday. "Gary Kinyon takes care of all the statistics. I do the promotional work and I even used to write the weekly article about the league for Spares and Strikes."

"Storm," through Jack Jurek's Bowlers Choice Pro Shop, "has stayed with us as a sponsor," Miller said. "We have 26 bowlers each week. We used to have 48."

The scratch league for bowlers 50 and over has lost some competitors due to normal attrition over the year. Injuries and old age eliminated some. Family issues took away a few more. Some jumped to other leagues on that night. For a few, Wednesday was just not convenient.

Miller, who seems to be everywhere important bowling events take place around Buffalo,  was elected to the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame in 2014 for meritorious service. He earned the honor for his dedication over the years. He's been a bowler, organizer, administrator, leader, publicist, official photographer, unofficial historian and cheerleader for the local association and several leagues over the years. He helped keep the BPA Miller Lite All-Stars travel league before it's eventual demise when the local proprietors group decided to no longer support the All-Stars and instead put its resources into the promotion of youth bowlers. It was a decision made with an eye to enhancing the future of the sport. Miller and others sought sponsorship to keep the league going but did not succeed.

The Shootout attracts many of the top senior bowlers in Western New York. The Shootout winner the last two weeks has been veteran John Masiello, the 1993 George A. Obenauer Masters champion and a two-time Buffalo Bowling Association Bowler of the Year (1993 and 1999). This week Masiello triumphed in the four-bowler  final with a 268, defeating Larry Panar (208), Joe Alajko (207) and John Danielewicz (159) in the finals.

Each competitor bowls three qualifying games to determine the top eight for an eliminator round. The top four than bowl a final match to determine that week's Shootout winner.

Hannon leads FDU

Melanie Hannon (Maryvale) of Fairleigh Dickinson was the second-place individual finisher last week in the Kutztown Invitational. Hannon had a six-game total of 1,347 that included games of 225, 267, 237, 219 and 211. She averaged 226.17 in leading the Knights to a third-place finish behind Vanderbilt and Delaware State.

Haley Carroll (Williamsville South) helped Saint Francis (Pa.) to an eight-place finish among the 26 teams. Carroll finished 39th among the 167 individual bowlers thanks to a 245 in her final game that lifted her average to 191.50.

Medaille finished last among the 26 teams in a very strong field. Saint Francis, where Sara Snyder of Depew is also a team member, will host its own Red Flash Invitational this weekend at the Holiday Bowl in Altoona, Pa.

No. 78 for the Coburns

Local bowling has a rich heritage of bowling families and husband-wife standouts. However, with apologies to others, the First Couple and heads of the First Family of Western New York bowling has to be Frank and Doris Coburn. They are both Hall of Fame members as are their daughters Kathy Coburn McDonald and Cindy Coburn Carroll.

Frank and Doris will celebrate 73 years of marriage on Feb. 8. They met five years before that so they've known one another for 78 years.

TV majors coming up

In this age of mostly taped television  bowling, fans of live competition will be pleased in February when no less than three live finals will be shown Sundays on ESPN. All three are major tournaments.

The first is the Barbasol PBA Players Championship on Feb. 12. Then its the FireLake Tournament of Champions on Feb. 19, followed by the USBC Masters on Feb.26.

Last year the PBA Players championship made news when Graham Fach became the first Canadian to win a title on the PBA Tour. Fach did it by defeating No. 1 qualifier Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, 279-244.

Since then another young Canadian star, Francois Lavoie, has won two titles. Lavoie won the U.S. Open with a televised 300 game in the process. He also won the PBA Shark championship, one of the events of the PBA World Series of Bowling.

Pin chasers

X-Jesper Svensson, the young Swedish left-side, two-handed stylist, won the PBA's George Young Memorial Award for bowling the highest average on the Tour. Svensson averaged 226.07 for 324 games, to edge another two-hander, Jason Belmonte of Australia (225.75).

X-The Junior Bowling World Championships for males and females under 20 will be held at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., June 16 to July 2. Young women will compete from June 16-23. Young men will compete from June 24-July 2. Two $50,000 scholarship awards will be on the line.

X-Transit Lanes will be the venue Sunday for the Western New York Queens Tournament. The Greater Buffalo USBC is the host organization.

The first Queens was held in 1965 by the Buffalo Women's Bowlers Association. In 1976, the Erie County Suburban Women's Bowlers Association held its own Queens. Since 1999, various local associations have hosted the WNY Queens. Buffalo WBA, ECSWBA, Twin City WBA, Dunkirk, WBA, and Medina WBA alternated as hosts. The Greater Buffalo USBC joined the rotation in 2006 after the merger of the Buffalo Bowling Association, the Buffalo WBA and the Erie County Suburban WBA.

Kristina Szczerbinski was last year's Division 1 champion. Tamara Turner took the Division II title and Denayjah, Glasco the Division 3 tiara.

Pro star Liz Johnson is a six-time winner of the WNY Queens, most recently two years ago.

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