The 27th Maryland State Women's Bowling Association's annual Championship Tournament kicked off May 9 at Fair Lanes Edgewood bowling center. The tournament, which draws bowlers from every part of Maryland, is conducted by the Harford County Women's Bowling Association.
The tournament, featuring team, singles and doubles events, will be held on five of six weekends; there will be no bowling over Memorial Day weekend. The event wraps up June 14.
This year, 354 teams of four bowlers will compete.
There will be an All-Events award as well as team, singles and doubles winners.
Currently leading the tournament on the team event is "Just The Four Of Us" in scratch and handicap divisions. Its scratch score is 2,140 and its handicap score is 2,545.
That's the scores that other teams have to beat to win this most prestigious event.
Typical of the women taking part in the tournament is Wendy Preston of Edgewood.
Preston is an average bowler in everything but dedication to the sport.
"Two years ago neighbors invited me to bowl with them," she recalled. "I fell in love with it."
I'll say. During the 1991-1992 winter season, Preston bowled in five leagues.
"This summer I'll cut that back to three leagues," she said, but added that it'll be back to five leagues in the fall.
And she'll be introducing her husband, Hep, to the sport this summer.
"He has never bowled but he's going to start," she said.
Preston, manager of the Baltimore night club Stage Door, has made big strides in two years: she has a high game of 244 and a high set of 525.
"Judy Wheeler [secretary of the HCWBA] was just great in helping me with my bowling. She introduced me to other bowlers, found spots on team for league play and did everything she could to encourage me," Preston said.
She carries a 151 average. That's very average, but it's her enthusiasm that stands out.
What is so great about bowling is that everyone, of every level of skill, can compete, and compete successfully. Wendy has thrown a 214 in the tournament and is a member of the "Naughty But Nice" team currently in fourth place. Competing in team, singles and doubles events, she has thrown two 500-plus series.
Now that's what bowling is all about.
Since bowling is a sport for everybody, here's an update on two of the younger bowlers, Whitney Griffith and Larry Walker, teammates at Harford Lanes in Aberdeen.
They successfully competed in the regionals of the National Junior Bowling Championships at Harford Lanes and won the honor to compete at the state level at Crofton Bowling Centre in Crofton on April 12.
Both were runner-ups in the Grade 2-And-Under Division.
Whitney lives in Edgewood with parents, Ellen and Robert, and attends Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middle River. The 6-year-old first-grader started bowling last year.
"She plays right halfback for the school soccer team but it's bowling that she really loves," Ellen Whitney said.
Whitney carries a 61 average with a high game of 104 and in the state finals was just three pins behind the winner, Jennifer Geilfuss.
Larry Walker lives in Aberdeen with his mother, Michelle, and will be entering the third grade at Halls Cross Road Elementary next fall. That means that this is his last year in the Grade 2-And-Under Division. He'll be replaced in that division by his little sister, Nicole.
Larry, an honor student, began bowling when his uncle, Steve Scheerer, took him to Harford Lanes. In September 1991, Larry started bowling in a Saturday morning youth league.
After one season, Larry's carrying a 52 average with a high game of 136. He threw that high game under pressure, in the tournament. He finished eight pins behind the winner, Daniel Eubank.
His mother credits Bob Marshall of Harford Lanes with molding Larry into an outstanding bowler in such a short time. "Bob Marshall has such great patience with the youngsters," she said.