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Bowling column: Weak showing by ECC teams in nationals

Kerm Helmer, the Godfather of Erie Community College bowling and perhaps all college bowling, died in 2002. If he were around today, he would be both proud and disappointed after the 50th edition of the National Junior College Athletic Association men’s and women’s bowling championships wound up Saturday at AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga.
Proud because the annual tournament still seems strong – 22 men’s college teams and 120 individuals, 19 women’s teams and 94 individuals competed in the three-day event at Airport. Disappointed by perhaps ECC’s weakest showing ever in an event it is most proud of for several reasons.
Since the NJCAA has conducted the men’s and women’s championship, ECC produced at least one team or individual champion ever year but one. The Kats had no winners this year, nobody close.
Midwest teams and individuals dominated the event. That’s not a surprise. Even in ECC’s glory years, the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, their toughest opponents were the Vincennes (Ind.) men. The women were rarely challenged until in-state teams like Hudson Valley CC and Schenectady County CC came along.
Bowlers from the Midwest led the team scoring and individual all-events heading into Saturday’s final day.
Iowa Central won the women’s team with 12,157 pins despite being outscored by Barton County (Kan.) by 147 pins in Saturday’s three Baker games. Rock Valley of Rockford, Ill., won the men’s team with 13,171 pins, enjoying a comfortable 440 pin margin over second-place Iowa Central.
Nick Howard of Highland (Ill.) nailed down the men’s all-events title despite shooting 595 in three team games on Saturday. He won on the strength of his 716 in doubles, the best individual series by far in the tournament. Howard shot 541 in singles and 710 in his first three-game team block for 2,562 total. He averaged 213.5 for the tournament. Howard and Austin Strite teamed for a 1,305 to win the doubles title. Dirik Lisi of Corning CC won the singles with 231-243-192-666 and shot 631 in four team games on Saturday to shoot up to second place in the men’s all-events.
Christina Simon and Amanda Wallace of Rock Valley shot 1,123 to win Thursday’s women’s doubles. Alexandria Newell of Barton County (Kan.) won the women’s singles with 645 by 13 pins over Tegan Peterson of Rock Valley. Peterson wrapped up the women’s all-events with a 631 in team on Saturday and finished with 2,226.
Host Erie Community College teams and individual bowlers were well back in the standings. Cassie Green and Samantha Ballantoni finished 32nd in doubles with 866. Green was 12th in singles with 543 and 33rd in all-events with 1,893.
Among the ECC men, Eric Engler and Trevor Johnson were 38th in doubles. Johnson was 23rd in singles with 568. Engler finished 34th in all-events with 2,068 and Johnson was 36th with 2,039. The Kats ended up 13th in team scoring with 11,242.

World Series starts today
The PBA World Series of Bowling XI will get under way on Sunday with two five-game qualifying rounds of the Go Bowling PBA Cheetah Championship at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, Nev. It’s the first event of a two-week stand with five championships will be decided for the Cheetah, Chamelion, Scorpion, the World Championship and the U.S. against the World.
Western New York natives Ryan Ciminelli of Lancaster, S.C. and Brad Angelo of Lockport are entered in most of the events.
The competition began Friday with the pre-tournament qualifier. Danielle McEwan of Stony Point averaged 228 for 10 games Friday to top a field of 10 Professional Bowlers Association members who advanced to the World Series.
McEwan, a five-time Professional Women’s Bowlers Association titlist and a sixth-year PBA member, rolled consecutive games of 277 and 300 in Friday’s second five-game qualifying round and finished with a 237 game to overtake Iceland’s Arnar Jonsson for the PTQ lead. Jonsson will be the second player from Iceland to bowl in the World Series. Also advancing out of the PTQ are three players from Sweden (Adam Andersson, Robin Persson and Rasmus Edvall) and 16-year-old two-hander Deo Benard of Henderson, Nevada, a PBA rookie who won the 10th spot in the WSOB by six pins over another PWBA champion, Maria Jose Rodriguez of Austin, Texas.
Rodriguez is first in line to enter the 120-player WSOB field in case of a late withdrawal.

Pin chasers
• Section VI girls and the Dunkirk girls in Division 2 will begin the defense of their titles in the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association championships at AMF Strike’N Spare Lanes in Syracuse. The competiton runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
• The Greater Buffalo USBC Association Youth Doubles Championship will wind up on Sunday at Broadway Sports Center in Cheektowaga. Bowling began with squads on March 1.

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