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Ciminelli and Angelo headed for Tournament of Champions

If you're nostalgic for the years of the Professional Bowlers Association Tour with Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton, Jr., calling the shots for ABC Television, this week's PBA Tournament of Champions might satisfy your whim.
The T of C will be back at historic AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio, in suburban Akron, and two Western New York born pros, Ryan Ciminelli, formerly of Cheektowaga, and Brad Angelo of Lockport will be in the field of 56 bowlers.
Riviera Lanes was the venue for what was once the Firestone Tournament of Champions from 1966 to 1994 and resumed its host role in 2018. It will be the first of the major events on the 2020 PBA Tour.
Last year, Jason Belmonte of Australia defeated E.J. Tackett in the title match for his third Tournament of Champions title, tying him with Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Pete Weber for the all-time lead in majors won at 10. He won his 11th major six weeks later when he captured the PBA World Championship title.
The stepladder finals for the T of C will be at 5 p.m. next Sunday on Fox. The winner will collect $100,000, one of three tournaments this season that will pay that amount to the champion.
Belmonte is tied with three-time TOC winners Mike Durbin and Jason Couch, both PBA Hall of Famers.
The tournament is open to champions only. In order to be eligible, a player must be a PBA member who has won a PBA Tour, PBA Regional, PBA50 Tour, PBA50 Regional, or PBA Women’s Series title. T of C past winners entered include Tackett (2017), Jesper Svensson (2016), Belmonte (2014, 2015, 2019), Matt O’Grady (2018), Sean Rash (2012), and PBA Hall of Famers Weber (1987, 2013), Norm Duke (1994), Chris Barnes (2006) and Tommy Jones (2007).
Walter Ray Williams Jr., has never won the T of C, leading him one shy of completing the PBA Tour Slam. Only Aulby and Duke have done that.
Certain to get attention will be 86-year-old Carmen Salvino competing in the tournament for the 30th time. His best finish was third in the first T of C in 1962. That was held in Indianapolis and won by Joe Joseph.
Ciminelli has come closer than any WNY bowler in winning the Tournament of Champions. He was second in 2012 when he lost to Sean Rash, 239-205, in the championship match. He also was fourth in 2015 when again he lost to Rash, who bowled a 300 game against him. Last week in Shawnee, Okla. Rash bowled a 289 to defeat Ciminelli's 234 in the championship match.
Aside from that, the closest a WNYer has come to winning the T of C was Pat Healey Jr. of Niagara Falls, who was third as an amateur in 1995. Tom Harnisch of Buffalo was fourth in 1966 in a different format. Harnisch defeated eventual champion Wayne Zahn, 193-190. Zahn then defeated Dave Davis, 202-197, Davis eliminated Harnisch, 195-191, then lost a rolloff to Zahn. Zahn then defeated top qualifier Dick Weber for the championship.
Ciminelli had to withdraw from last year's T of C during the first qualifying round because of an injury that occurred before the tournament.
Angelo's best showing in the eight times he was eligible for the tournament was seventh place in 2016 and eighth in 2017. Both were at FireLake Family Resort and Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla., site of the Oklahoma Open last week.
Ciminelli did not make match play in this week's Tour stop, the Jonesboro Open in Arkansas. The stepladder finals of the Jonesboro were held Saturday on FoxSports 1 instead of the usual Sunday show so as not to conflict with Fox's coverage of Super Bowl LIV Sunday.
The college scene
Erie Community College's men's team finished third behind Stevens Tech and Hudson Valley CC among six teams last weekend in the Westchester Shoot Out in Fishkill, then finished fourth in the Westchester Classic in Carmel. The ECC women were ninth among nine teams at Fishkill and sixth in Carmel.
Benjamin Chamberland (Clarence) led ECC at Fishkill. His 194.3 average for six games was eighth best. Eric Engler (183.7) of the Kats was 13th at Carmel.
The ECC teams competed in tournaments on Saturday and Sunday in Schenectady. The National Junior College Region 3 tournament will be in Utica on Feb. 22. leading up to the NJCAA nationals at AMF Airport Lanes March 5-7.
Elsewhere on the collegiate front, the Daemen women returned to action for the first time since early December and posted the first traditional match score over 1,000 pins in the history of the program. They did it in a 1046-796 victory over D'Youville at AMF Lancaster Lanes on Wednesday. Freshman Caitlyn Nowak (West Seneca West) has a 229 game for the Wildcats. Daemen had more difficulty in the Baker match, winning 786-766.
That same night, the Medaille women won at Pitt-Bradford winning the traditional match, 876-766, with freshman Sarah Radt (Orchard Park) contributing a 192. The Mavericks also won the Baker match, 909-707. The night before, Medaille defeated D'Youville, 871-816, in the traditional match and the Baker match, 4-1. Ashley Len shot 212 for the Spartans in the traditional.##
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