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Bowling: USBC creates new league category

Like handicaps in golf, the validity of bowling averages attained in league play has been a controversial subject among some competitors.

In an effort to align averages more closely to the lane conditions league bowlers face, the Unites States Bowling Congress has established a new classification for this season. Some leagues with lanes conditions more difficult than the Standard leagues (the so-called house shot) will be reclassified as Challenge leagues. Some leagues have been reclassified as Sport leagues.

The changes were made after a study of league averages for the 2016-17 season. Nationally, a total of 605 leagues will be reclassified as Challenge leagues and 99 leagues will be reclassified as Sport leagues. The changes were based on data showing the scoring pace for members that was significantly different than on Standard conditions.

The New York State USBC Associations reports that 30 leagues in 15 local associations in the state will be reclassified. Leagues affected were notified by letters from the USBC informing them that the lane conditions used in those leagues were more difficult than conditions in Standard leagues. Only one of the leagues in the state is in the Greater Buffalo USBC Association. Another is in the Lockport Associations. Eighteen of the leagues to be reclassified are in the Rochester (5), Long Island(5), Albany (4) and New York City (4) associations.

Leagues have a right to appeal and some are.

According to Greater Buffalo USBC Association manager Bill Palumbo, two local leagues have received reclassification notices. Palumbo said he is reserving comment on the process for now but said the GBUSBC has already been trying to reclassify leagues on the local level.

According to the USBC release:

"With assistance from the USBC Specifications and Certification department, the USBC Membership department examined the averages of every league from the 2016-2017 season.

"To ensure it had a sample size large enough to evaluate a league, at least 20 percent of a league’s members had to have an average in another league if the league was to be evaluated for possible reclassification.

"For leagues with a large enough sample size, the data showed 99 leagues were statistically more difficult for bowlers, with averages of 20 or more pins higher than in a Standard or “house shot” league, which showed the league was competing on Sport conditions. It also found 605 leagues in which bowler averages were 10-19 pins higher than in Standard leagues, which shows Challenge lane conditions.

"The reclassification of the leagues continues USBC’s efforts to ensure the averages bowlers use in leagues and competitions are a true reflection of their abilities. It also is part of the continuing evaluation of leagues following changes to the Sport program several years ago."

Belmonte honored again

Jason Belmonte of Australia, who is closing in on the all-time record for career major titles, was selected as the GEICO Chris Schenkel Professional Bowlers Association Player of the League for the fourth time in the last five years. The voting was among media and PBA members. Belmonte needs one more major win -- he won three of the four last season -- to tie Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for the most with 10.

Matt Sanders, a left-hander from Evansville, Ind., was the Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year. Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, is the Steve Nagy PBA Sportsmanship Award winner, and PBA Hall of Famer Del Ballard of Keller, Texas, is the recipient of the Tony Reyes Memorial Community Service Award. Among Ballard's activities are fund-raising efforts on behalf of research for treatment for head, nose and throat cancer. Ballard has been fighting cancer since he was first diagnosed with the condition in 2010.

The recipients will be honored at the Go Bowling PBA 60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Hall of Fame Induction  in Indianapolis on Feb. 17. The event will be during the PBA 60th Anniversary Classic tournament at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.

Pin chasers

X-The GBUSBC Association has extended the early-bird deadline for the City Tournament to Feb. 9. The City Tournament (the Open and Women's championship) will be held April 24 to May 12 at Kenmore Lanes.

Also, reservations for the GBUSBC Me & Mine Tournament will close Feb. 2. That tournament will be held Feb. 10-11 and 17-18 at AMF Lancaster Lanes.

X-Watkins Glen International announced Go Bowling as title sponsor of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at The Glen starting this season. The Go Bowling at The Glen race will headline a NASCAR tripleheader weekend also featuring the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR K&N Pro East Series, Aug. 2-5.

X-College tournament activity kicks back into high gear this weekend with tournaments in Pennsylvania and downstate. Medaille's women's team will compete in the Kutztown Invitational in Reading, Pa. The Mavericks are in a group with national power and defending champion Vanderbilt. Saint Francis (Pa.) with Haley Carroll (Williamsville South) and Sara Snyder (Depew) in the lineup is also entered in the 28-team field. The tournament began Friday and will continue to Sunday.

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