Bowlers flock to area for state tournament

Posted: Friday, March 03, 2000

Between 500 and 600 bowlers will converge on the central Kenai Peninsula over the course of the next three weekends for the 40th Alaska Women's Bowling Association Tournament.

The bowlers, who will do their rolling at Alaskalanes in Kenai, can compete in singles, doubles, four-person team and all-event categories.

"They started at 2 o'clock today and they'll run through Sunday afternoon," said Ken Liedes, co-owner of Alaskalanes, Wednesday. "After that, it'll be Friday, Saturday and Sunday the next two weekends."

When all that bowling is done, winners will be determined in each of the categories. Handicaps will be used to determine the singles, doubles, team and all-event winners, while there also will be an all-event scratch champion.

"There's not a lot of emphasis on scratch," said Richie Curran, who is handling publicity for the Soldotna-Kenai Women's Bowling Association. "That's what makes bowling competitive for everybody."

The tournament is being hosted by Soldotna-Kenai Women's Bowling Association. This is the fifth time the association has hosted the tournament, with the other occasions coming in 1975, 1981, 1984 and 1992 at Gold Strike Lanes in Soldotna.

Teams and individuals from Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, Fairbanks, Kodiak, Homer, Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and Skagway all will make their way to the central peninsula to knock down pins.

"It's kind of nice because it draws people from across the state," Liedes said. "It should put a little money into the local economy, especially the hotels and restaurants.

"It gets spread around pretty good. It's not just Kenai, it's Soldotna, too."

Shirley Paulsen, manager of the Ketchikan Entertainment Center, said she is part of a party of 10 from her city.

She arrived Tuesday, will leave Sunday and is staying at the Uptown Motel in Kenai.

"It's nice to see old friends and bowl in different centers," Paulsen said. "You always like to do good, but mostly it's just for good fun."

Both the Soldotna-Kenai Women's Bowling Association and Alaskalanes put in a lot of work organizing the tournament.

Just one of the many things the association did is put together over 500 shoe bags that will serve as gift bags and will be given to each bowler.

"There's a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs," Curran said.

Liedes said Alaskalanes got new pins for the tournament. With the tournament coming, Liedes also figured it was a good time to get a new machine for waxing and cleaning the lanes.

He said the machine takes about one hour off the time it takes to clean and wax the house's 12 lanes, plus saves a lot of physical labor.

"It's top-of-the-line," Liedes said. "It's the best one in the U.S. right now."

While the tournament has flashes of the new, it also has its consistent reliables. Kenai's Lynn Wetzel has never missed a state tournament, and she will be rolling again this year.

"I wish I had all the money back," Wetzel joked Wednesday.

She picked up a team title in 1975, but said it is not the winning that keeps her going.

"It's a habit," Wetzel said. "I'll do it for as long as I'm healthy enough to do it."

Although the tournament started Wednesday, the official opening ceremonies will be Saturday at 5 p.m. at Alaskalanes and will feature a skit from the Soldotna-Kenai Women's Bowling Association.

The ceremonies will be followed by a dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with the band DC Sound.

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