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Aside from the Greater Buffalo USBC Association’s Women’s Championship, the Western New York Queens Tournament is now the major event of the season for female bowlers in these parts.

The 15th edition of the WNY Queens will go off Sunday at AMF Lancaster Lanes with four games of qualifying at 10 a.m. followed by stepladder finals in three divisions for the top five bowlers.

Michelle Frank Sterner is the two-time defending champion. She will be looking to win for the fifth time in the high-average division (Division 1) of the tournament since the first event (as presently constituted) began in 1999.

Prior to that the Buffalo Bowling Association and the Erie County Suburban Women’s Bowling Association each used to run their own Queens tournaments. The first BBA Queens was in 1965. The first ECSWBA Queens was in 1975.

The list of past champions in all three Queens reads like a who’s who of women’s bowling in Western New York – Betty Maw (three-time winner), Doris Coburn, Laurie Sutton, Tammy Smith and Joan Ast (two each) were multiple winners of the old BBA Queens. Sue Veley (4), Ann Marie Nowak and Ellen Abt (2 each) were multiple winners of the ECSWBA Queens.

Since the WNY Queens was inaugurated in 1999, the tournament has been won five times by Liz Johnson. Sue Nawojski and Sue Jeziorski, who each had won BBA Queens titles in the ’90s, have each won one WNY Queens title as well.

Sterner has been overshadowed much of her career by the accomplishments of Johnson, her teammate with Nawojski and Jeziorski on the powerful Bowlers Choice teams that have won national, state and numerous local titles. They set a USBC tournament record with 3,424 scratch and 3,426 handicap when they won the national title in 2008.

Sterner’s four WNY Queens titles speak for themselves. She also was GBUSBC Female Bowler of the Year in 2008 and was a two-time BBA Bowler of the Year in the ’90s. In 2008, Sterner made a rare clean sweep of the scratch championships in the GBUSBC Women’s Championships at Airport Lanes, winning the singles (768), doubles with Nawojski and all-events (2,114) and the team with the Bowlers Choice aggregation. In addition, she was second in handicap singles and doubles and fifth in handicap all-events.

Her first WNY Queens title came in 1999. She outbowled Johnson, 276-238, for her second in 2004. She ended Liz’s three-year run as WNY Queens winner in 2011 when she defeated Nawojski, 227-218, in the final and followed it with her victory last year when she defeated top qualifier Kimberly Wangler, 211-183, in the title match in Division I.

There will be 92 bowlers – up from a year ago – in this year’s competition and it’s a strong field even though Johnson and Jeziorski are not entered because they are busy with tournaments out of town.

Wangler is back to seek the title again. Nawojski is entered as are Cindy Coburn Carroll, Julie Selk and Marion Singleton. Ashley Fitzpatrick, last year’s Division 3 winner, also will try to defend her title.

Four WNY bowling associations take turns hosting the Queens Tournament. Greater Buffalo is this year’s host. Tonawandas, Niagara Falls, Lake Shore (formerly Dunkirk) are other hosts. Jamestown is entered for the first time this year.

“We hope to get the Lockport Association involved in the future,” said Elaine Koszuta of the GBUSBC, who is directing the tournament.

Szczerbinski contends

Some times it can be tricky following the PBA Tour because events that are shown on TV on Sundays usually were bowled weeks before.

For the record, Ryan Ciminelli was eliminated in the Round of 32 by Park Jean Soo of Korea, 3-1, in the Round 1 Japan Cup in Tokyo. The tournament ended last month, however, and last Sunday’s ESPN telecast was not live as reported in this column last week.

There will be live bowling at noon today on ESPN, however, when Round 1 of the new PBA League finals will be shown.

It’s part of the PBA’s Winter Swing going on this week in Michigan, as four tournaments were staged for showing next month.

Ciminelli of Cheektowaga collected $3,000 after his seventh-place finish (6-3 match play record and 4,017 total pins) in the Mark Roth Classic. Buffalo native Tom Baker, who was 16th, and Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, who was 22nd, also cashed.

John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda finished fifth in the Don Carter Classic. He had a 6-2 match play record and averaged 239.35 for the tournament and picked up $4,000.

As of Friday, Szczerbinski was in contention to make the 16-bowler match play portion of the Earl Anthony Players Championship.

Szcerbinski and Jurek are teammates with Pete Weber, Tommy Jones and Scott Norton on the New York City WTT KingPins in the PBA League. Ciminelli is on the Brooklyn Styles, whose lineup also includes Sean Rash, Ryan Shafer, Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Jason Sterner.

Pin chasers

• Prepaid entries and reservations will close next Friday for the GBUSBC Me & Mine Tournament on Feb. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at the Broadway Sports Center. The association also has entries out for the coming Stan Kowalski City Seniors, the Open, Women’s Championship and the George A. Obenauer Masters.

• Helped by single games of 258 and 259, sophomore Devon Miller of Erie Community College finished fifth overall with an 1,823 pinfall at the Hawk Invitational at Pin-O-Rama in Utica last Sunday. Freshman Liz Szpara (Orchard Park) was fifth among the women with 1,505. Szpara and Alicia Alguire (Lake Shore) finished second in doubles.

Overall, sophomore Morgan Anderson (Tapestry Charter) was seventh while Alguire was eighth.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com