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By Milt Northrop

NEWS SPORTS REPORTER

There’s nothing more democratic in the sports world than open handicap bowling tournaments, where your once-a-week beer leaguer or Saturday couples league wonders can compete alongside classic level champions. Picking favorites is almost impossible; one hot game or series or one hot bowler on a four-person team can land you on a prize list.

Most league seasons are completed and the attention on the local bowling scene shifts to the various city championship tournaments. The Greater Buffalo USBC Association Senior Open will run today and Sunday at Wimbledon Lanes.

Tuesday night is the opener for the GBUSBC Open and Women’s Championships – commonly known as “The City Tournament” – at Transit Lanes in Williamsville. The 71st Tonawandas USBC City Tournament will open its two-week run next Saturday at the Tonawanda Bowling Center on Young Street. The Tonawandas opener was postponed from May 3 because of a scheduling conflict at the lanes.

There were 1,364 entries to the GBUSBC championships a year ago. Numbers were down slightly as of Friday, according to GBUSBC director Bill Palumbo, but registration had not yet closed. Another 273 were entered in the Seniors Championship.

Traditional opening night ceremonies at 6:45 p.m. will get things rolling on Tuesday night at Transit, and the bowling is scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m. Opening night is strictly for teams and it’s always an early sellout. This year is no different.

The association will put down the Kegel Bourbon Street oil pattern for the city tournaments.

“It’s not a Sport pattern, but it’s the toughest of Kegel’s recreational shots,” Palumbo said.

The handicap divisions probably will be wide open as usual. For example, last year in the City Open, Edward Dacey, a 158-average bowler who bowled in just one sanctioned league at Sunset Lanes in West Seneca, led the way in doubles with partner Michael Pasquale Sr. and in all-events. He was helped by a 218 game in singles, his high game, but he was well over average in all three events.

A female, Dawn Lorenc, won the six-game combine. She was a 120-average bowler in the Father Justin K of C League at Lancaster Lanes.

PBA Tour pro Jack Jurek of Lackawanna swept the scratch singles, six-game combine and all-events for the second time in four years in 2012. He’s not entered this year because he will be competing in his first PBA50 (Seniors) Tour events. Jurek turned 50 on Tuesday. He is scheduled to make his PBA50 Tour debut in the Dayton Classic in Ohio, May 13-16.

In last year’s City Women’s Championship, Sandra Halik nearly made a clean sweep in the handicap events, winning singles, combine, all-events and bowling on the champion Goofballs team. Halik and Patricia Salzman were third in doubles, just eight pins behind the winners.

Seldom are there surprises in the women’s scratch events. Holly Filarecki won her second singles and all-events titles over a four-year period in 2012. She ended Sue Jeziorski’s two-year run. Jeziorski teamed with Liz Johnson to capture another doubles title and they will defend this year. In the team scratch event, the powerhouse Bowlers Choice team of Jeziorski, Johnson, Michelle Sterner and Sue Nawojski will be out to end the two-year run of the Coburn Clinic teams with a lineup that included Carrie Racsumberger, Jocelyn Stutz, Julie Selk and Cindy Carroll. Coburn Clinic had put an end to a run of four straight championships by Bowlers Choice.

Just over the horizon is the George A. Obenauer Masters at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga starting May 14.

The GBUSBC will put down the 2013 USBC Open oil pattern for the Obenauer. The oil pattern for the Obenauer will be available for practice starting next Monday at Thruway.

Szczerbinski on a roll

The National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., seems to suit John Szczerbinski just fine.

The 25-year-old North Tonawanda pro threw 31 strikes in his final set at the stadium on April 21 to take the lead in Regular Singles and Regular All-Events at the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.

Szczerbinski finished with games of 279, 269 and 241 for a 789 singles series and had 777 in team and 662 in doubles for a 2,228 all-events total. Kelly Bonta of Wichita, Kan., previously held the Regular Singles lead with 776, while two-time USBC Open Championships winner John Janawicz of Winter Haven, Fla., topped the all-events standings with 2,169.

“I had a pretty good look last night and knew the pattern would be close, even though it’s a little bit shorter,” Szczerbinski told Bowl.com, the USBC website. “I came in with a game plan of making quality shots, and that’s what happened.”

Szczerbinski has averaged 238.5 for 27 games in five Open Championships at the National Bowling Stadium. That included a 299 game and 805 series in 2011.

More triple perfection

Joe Scarborough of Charlotte, N.C., rolled three consecutive 300 games to start the first round of qualifying in the PBA50 Sun Bowl last Sunday at Spanish Springs Lanes in The Villages, Fla., recording the first 900 series in Professional Bowlers Association history.

Scarborough, who turned 50 in October 2012, was bowling in only his second PBA50 Tour event. The self-employed electrical contractor threw another strike to start his fourth game, but his streak ended at 37 in a row when he left a split on his 38th shot. Three straight sub-200 games then toppled him out of the lead and into a tie for 12th place with 1,921 pins.

Walter Ray Williams won the event with Buffalo native Tom Baker of King, N.C., taking seventh.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com