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Bowling: Ciminelli is No. 1 seed for Sunday's PBA Oklahoma Open

 It can be a little nerve-wracking sitting on the qualifying lead for 13 games on a Professional Bowlers Association Tour event, but Ryan Ciminelli managed it Friday.
Ciminelli moved into the qualifying lead with a 300 game against Kristopher Prater in the first round of matches on Friday, then won three of his next four matches to go 90 pins in front of Brad Miller in the PBA Oklahoma Open. Ciminelli started the final match play round on Friday night with games of 279 and 289 over Greg Young and Sean Rash to cement his position, then held on to the lead despite going 1-5 the rest of the way, including a position round loss to Miller.
As a result Ciminelli sits on top of the five-bowler step ladder for Sunday's nationally televised event (FS1, 1 p.m.) at
FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee.
“I like the fresh condition,” Ciminelli told Bill Vint of the PBA when it was all over on Friday. "My first game average for all four rounds had to be over 250. But all around my look deteriorated as the rounds went on and I wound up holding on for dear life.”
Ciminelli, who grew up in Cheektowaga and was a national champion and an All-America performer at Erie Community College, now bowls out of Lancaster, S.C., in the greater Charlotte, N.C. area. His home lanes is the Strikers Family SportsCenter in Rock Hill, S.C. It's not far off a major north-south road, Interstate 77.
One of the last of the Western New Yorkers on the PBA's Go Bowling Pro Tour, Ciminelli is off to a strong start in the 2020 season. Last week, he just missed the finals of the PBA Hall of Fame Classic in Arlington, Texas, finishing sixth.
In 2019, Ciminelli won his eighth career tour title and first since 2016 when he won the Gene Carter Pro Shop Open in Delaware and was a member of the Portland Lumberjacks Elias Cup championship team. He also was suspended for two tournaments for his comments he made on a FloBowling podcast.
“I guess you could say I have a little different mindset for this year,” Ciminelli told the media in Shawnee. “I’m more content in my own skin, my own life and I’m taking things as they come. It’s paid off very quickly, with a strong tournament last week and making a show this fast, and especially in this building. I’ve never even gotten a check in Shawnee before.”
The 33-year-old lefthander last won a Tour title in 2017. He had a six-game total of 1,407 (234.7 average) in the first six-game qualifying block Wednesday and stood second overall behind Sam Cooley of Australia. On Thursday he started with a 241 and 216, then struggled with 162, 200, 199 and finally a 266. He dropped to ninth place but easily qualified for match play.
He opened match play on Friday with a 244-233 win over a young hotshot, Darren Tang of Las Vegas. Then came a loss to Miller (257-156) followed by four straight wins, 237-183 over Nicholas Pate, 300-199 over Prater, 237-214 over Cooley and 216-179 over Patrick Hanrahan. A one-pin (225-224) loss to Kyle Sherman and a 237-206 win over second-round leader Dom Barrett pushed Ciminelli into the qualifying lead.
He held on despite losses to Tom Smallwood, Jesper Svensson, D.J. Archer, Mitch Hupe and Miller in match play. His final victory was over Patrick Girard, 216-208.
Rash, Hanrahan, Svensson and Miller make up the rest of the stepladder, No. 5 through No. 2.
Miller ended up with 6,609 pins, 36 behind Ciminelli. Miller and No. 4 seed Hanrahan will be trying for their first PBA title. Rash has won 14 times on the tour and Sweden's Svensson eight times.
The tournament is being contested on two different oil patterns, the 45-foot PBA Dragon 45 on the left lane and the Wolf 32 pattern on the right lane throughout the competition.
Ryan shot 300 on the dual lane patterns using the Prism Solid on the left lane and Purple Hammer on the right.
The Oklahoma Open is a Tier 2 event in the PBA points structure. Points earned in all Go Bowling PBA Tour events through the PBA World Series of Bowling XI in April will qualify the top 24 players for the PBA Playoffs in April and May.
ECC teams busy
Erie Community College teams were in action last weekend. The Kats men finished fourth in the Hawk Invitational in Rome on Sunday. Hudson Valley CC was first. Bryan Hill of ECC (West Seneca West) was third with a 204.5 average in traditional scoring for individual bowlers. Teammates Trevor Johnson (ninth, 185.7) and Eric Engler (Iroquois), who was 12th at 180.3, were other team leaders.
The Kats also bowled in the Blue and Orange Classic in Carmel the day before. Bryan Chamberland (Clarence) (195.5) led the Kats with a 195.5 average to their fourth-place finish. Johnson averaged 189.8 and Jacob Swiniarski (Frontier) was 10th (187.2).
The ECC women were sixth in Carmel with Cassandra Green (Pioneer) and second in the individual scoring at 183.67.
ECC will bowl Saturday in the Westchester Shootout in Fishkill and will compete on Sunday in the Westchester Classic in Carmel.
WNY Queens at Rapids Lanes
The 22nd annual Western New York Queens tournament will be held Sunday at Rapids Lanes in Niagara Falls. There will be only one squad of bowling in the qualifying at 10 a.m. followed by stepladder finals in each of three adult divisions based on average and a youth division. Nicole Bongiovanni is the defending champion in Division 1. Michelle Sterner in 2012 was the last defending champion to win a second straight title. Her titles came after three straight by Liz Johnson.
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