California bowler shoots 299

MicheleCultreraSumSYRACUSE, N.Y. - When Michele Cultrera of Goleta, Calif., heads to the USBC Open Championships in Reno, Nev., next week, she's hoping to continue the momentum from her recent visit to the USBC Women's Championships.

The 28-year-old shined in her Women's Championships debut with a 299 game at the Oncenter Convention Center on Thursday. Now, she's extra motivated to knock down that final pin when she competes at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.

"I wasn't really even aware that everyone was watching me until the people around me stopped bowling on both sides," Cultrera said. "About the 10th frame, I noticed them watching and cheering, but then that 9 pin didn't fall."

Cultrera still is proud of her achievement and the string of 14 consecutive strikes she threw on the way to games of 203, 198 and 299 for a 700 doubles set. She teamed with Marilyn Santiago, also of Goleta, for a 1,171 scratch doubles total. An additional 53 pins of handicap per game helped them to a 1,330 handicap total. Trish Manna and Suzy Minino of Omaha, Neb., lead Diamond Doubles with 1,532.

Cultrera followed her stellar doubles effort with games of 210, 212, and 224 for a 667 scratch singles series, and seven pins per game gave her a 688 handicap singles total. Brittany Signor of nearby Watertown, N.Y., leads Diamond Singles with 806. Cultrera did not compete in team.

A manager for the second-largest California-based credit union, The Golden One, in the San Francisco Bay area, Cultrera already owns scores she could hang from a charm bracelet, 269, 279, 289, and now her latest, 299.

Also a former University of California-Santa Barbara bowler, Cultrera has competed in the Open Championships for the last five years and enjoys comparing the experiences between the two.

"The oil patterns are different - that's the biggest difference I see," Cultrera said. "At the Open, a bowler goes through more transitions, and you must establish a tack feel."

Although she and her friends can rattle off bowling details that would put many serious bowlers to shame, they have a keen eye for the differences and similarities and what those resulting strategies entail.

"At the women's, I worked on not making it all about me," Cultrera said. "I just tried to focus, hold the ball right and be a bubbly team player. For me, it is key to concentrate on keeping the rhythm going."

The Diamond Division includes bowlers with averages of 180 and above, with handicap based on 220. For doubles, the pair must have a combined average of 360 or above. Handicap is 100 percent of 440.

There have been 14 perfect games and eight 299s in 92 years of Women's Championships competition.