SYRACUSE, N.Y. - There might only be a few weeks remaining at the 2011 USBC Women's Championships, but every day is Opening Day for hundreds of bowlers looking for their moment in the spotlight.
This week, new leaders emerged in all three divisions at the Oncenter Convention Center.
In the Sapphire Division, Dianne's Dreamers of Wilmington, Ill., took the lead in the team event and likes its chances of hoisting the blue-stoned trophy when the tournament concludes its 88-day run in July.
The group put together games of 859, 812 and 818 for a 2,489 scratch total and an additional 23 pins of handicap per game helped them to a 2,558 overall total, surpassing Bernie's Alterations of Pleasant Lake, Ind., which previously held the lead with 2,455.
Lindsey Dieter led the way for Dianne's Dreamers with a 623 series and was followed by Diane Gleason (604), Debbie Scovel (544), Dianne Waldon (540) and Keelie Burgett (523).
The teammates vary in age from 18-70 and sport Women's Championships experience ranging from two to six years. The team initially was organized by the league secretary at AMF Bloomington, their home center.
Four team members were ready to head for New York on Saturday, but a last-minute need for a fifth bowler, put 18-year-old Burgett into action.
"I had 20 minutes to pack after my sister (Dieter) came by and said they needed me to bowl with them. So off I went," Burgett said.
Burgett also filled in for a Joplin, Mo., team with missing members due to the tornadoes hitting Missouri this week.
The Sapphire Doubles lead changed hands Saturday as right-handed sisters Doris Marcinkus and Shelia Pfeifer of Waukegan, Ill., grabbed the top spot with a 1,092 total. Amy Ellingson and Alyssa Kottwitz of Bozeman, Mont., previously held the lead with 1,074.
Marcinkus and Pfeifer, who came into the tournament as substitutes, both saved their best for doubles. Pfeifer led the way with a 581 series, while Marcinkus added 505 for a 1,086 scratch pinfall. An additional two pins of handicap per game gave the pair a 1,092 total.
"This is the first time we've ever bowled doubles together," said Pfeifer, who placed second in all-events at the 1986 Women's Championships in Orange County, Calif. "We go to tournaments together, but we've never paired up. None of us realized how good we were doing."
Marcinkus, 55, and Pfeifer, 52, combined for a 298 average. Sapphire Doubles includes bowlers with combined averages of 299 and below with handicap being 100 percent of 300.
"If we win, it would be the best thing ever," Pfeifer said. "We would be just overjoyed. This doesn't happen to the common person."
Andrea Brown of Greensboro, N.C. took the lead in Ruby All-Events with a 1,818 total Saturday. Brown, who bowls at Triad Lanes, replaced previous leader Tina Arend of Pueblo West, Colo., who had 1,810.
Brown posted consistent scores of 544 in doubles, 511 in team and 511 in singles for a 1,566 scratch all-events total. An additional 28 pins of handicap per game helped the right-hander assume the lead.
"I couldn't believe it at first," said Brown, who will turn 49 on June 3. "I couldn't believe it when I saw my name in first place."
Brown came into the tournament with the mindset to cash in this year. She sensed she had a chance to make the leaderboard when she rolled a 200 game in doubles and 204 in singles after posting just two 200 games in league this season.
"For me to be able to bowl two in one day is a milestone for me," said Brown, who is naturally left-handed but bowls with her right hand. "I just tried to keep my eye on the big prize and not take things too seriously. If you are too worried about things, you can get tense and frustrated. You have to relax and have fun."
In the Diamond Division a few days earlier, Elizebeth Hubler Rike of Grand Rapids, Mich., vaulted into the all-events lead with a 2,270 total. Dede Davidson of Buellton, Calif., previously held the lead with 2,199.
Hubler Rike bowled well over her 181 average and had 660 in doubles, 634 in singles and 625 in team for a 1,919 scratch all-events total. An additional 39 pins of handicap per game helped her into the lead.
Seven of Hubler Rike's nine games were 204 or better, with a high of 242 in singles. She also teamed with Sharyl Jahn to move into fourth place in Diamond Doubles with a 1,461 total.
The Diamond Division is for bowlers with averages of 180 and above with handicap being 100 percent of 220.