The news this week that Kelly Kulick, Chris Barnes and Mike Koivuniemi will be inducted this year into the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in the Superior Performance category is a reminder of how many Western New Yorkers have been so honored in the past.
The USBC Hall of Fame was created in 2005 by merging the former American Bowling Congress and Women’s International Bowling Congress halls of fame.
There are 220 members in the combined halls in the Superior Performance category and six of them are from Western New York.
The list includes Tom Baker, Allie Brandt, Cindy Coburn-Carroll, Doris Coburn, Liz Johnson and Phyllis Notaro. Jimmy Schroeder is a hall of famer in the Veterans Category.
Kulick, of course, made bowling history in 2010 when she became the first woman to win a PBA Tour event. She did it in a big way, too, winning the Tournament of Champions, one of the sport's majors. Liz Johnson was a trail blazer among women competitors against male bowlers in PBA events with several firsts, but Kulick was the first to win on the main tour and do it in a major, too.
Of course, Kulick's career had many additional achievements, especially on the women's tour.
Barnes, of Double Oak, Texas, owns 19 PBA Tour titles, including three majors. He has made 85 career TV finals appearances. In addition, he has been a 16-time member of Team USA in international competition.
Koivuniemi is a native of Finland and now lives in the United Arab Emirates, where he is coach of the national team. For much of his pro career, Koivuniemi lived in Michigan.
He owns 14 titles on the PBA Tour. His first two titles were majors – the 2000 USBC Masters and the 2001 U.S. Open, earning him the nickname Major Mika.
He had one memorable defeat. Baker defeated Koivuniemi, 246-239, to win the PBA World Championship in Ypsilanti, Mich., in 2004. Baker defeated Brad Angelo of Lockport, 277-243, in an All-WNY semifinal.
The three new inductees were among 10 bowlers on the Superior Performance ballot for 2019, which was voted on by a panel of USBC Hall of Fame members, USBC board members and veteran bowling writers. Candidates had to receive at least 70 percent of the votes cast to earn election.
The men’s national ballot for Superior Performance also included Patrick Allen of Garfield, N.J.; Dave Ferraro of Kingston; Randy Pedersen of Orlando, Fla., and Mark Williams of Beaumont, Texas.
Besides Kulick, the women’s national ballot had Marianne DiRupo of Succasunna, N.J.; Sandra Jo Shiery of Coldwater, Mich., and Tammy Turner of West Palm Beach, Fla.
The 2019 USBC Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place May 1 in Las Vegas as part of the USBC Convention at The Orleans Hotel and Casino.
Locals don't cash in Oklahoma
Kulick and John Janawicz of Winter Haven, Fla., won the Team USA Trials this week in Las Vegas. Part of the event was a three-bowler stepladder format to determine the U.S. Amateur champion for men and women.
Breanna Clemmer defeated Mabel Cummins, a 16-year-old from Elburn, Ill., to win the women's title. Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, Calif., defeated Janawicz, 216-198, for the men's title.
Low was runner-up in the Junior Gold Under 20 division with the USBC Youth Championships were held in Buffalo in 2014. He won the Junior Gold in 2013 and 2017.
The roster of the 2014 Youth Open here included three bowlers who now are competing on the PBA Tour -- Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn., and Darren Tang and Wesley Tang of San Francisco. Darren now bowls out Las Vegas and Wesley out of Johnstown, Ohio.
The Tang brothers are among the 24 cashers in the PBA Oklahoma Open, which will wrap up today in Shawnee, Okla. (FS1, 11 a.m.).
Ryan Ciminelli of Clarence, Angelo and WNY native Liz Johnson of Palatine, Ill., did not qualify for Thursday's cashers round in Oklahoma. Ciminelli finished 26th with 3,208 pins and a 229.14 average. Angelo was 40th at 3,150 (225.0) and Liz was 55th at 3,078 (219.86). A 194 in his last game of the second round of qualifying probably cost Ciminelli a place in the cashers round.
In the PBA Doubles championship held concurrently with the Oklahoma Open, Ciminelli and Rhino Page finished 16th; Angelo and Thomas Larsen of Denmark combined for a 21st place and Liz Johnson and Anthony Pepe of East Elmhurst were 28th.
Youth team repeats
There's a dynasty of sorts happening in the Greater Buffalo USBC Youth Team championships, which wrapped up its 32nd annual event last month at AMF Airport Lanes.
The Fireball team from the Town of Tonawanda won the scratch title in the A Division with 2,671. Michael Weber, Josh Large, Dom Germano and Ryan Reese made up the champion's lineup. Weber bowls at St. Joe's, Large bowled at Erie Community College and Germano is a member of the ECC team now. Reese bowled at Cardinal O'Hara and is now at Niagara University.
In 2017, the same team bowling as Tonawanda Travel won the title with a 2,586 score. What's more, Large, Weber and Germano were on the 2016 winner with Jarrett Robert.
Also, Reese was a member of the 2015 championship team.
The Flyers of Cheektowaga won the 2018 B Division with a 2,510 total. Alicia Rogacki, Samaria Hicks, Nicole Remley and Katarina Korn were team members.
Pin Wreckers from Cheektowaga won the 2018 C Division at 2,645. Conner Pilley, Shane Ashley, Mitchell Ashley and Lily Collins made up that lineup.
Coming up are two popular major local events: the WNY Queens Tournament on Jan. 27 at Allie Brandt Lanes in Lockport and the Tri-City Masters at Manor Lanes in the Town of Tonawanda on Feb. 9-10.#