The 45th annual Alaska Women's Bowling Association Championship Tournament will be held at AlaskaLanes in Kenai starting today.
According to Patricia Nikolas, one of the tournament directors, between 200 and 400 bowlers will participate in the event. It is the first time the state tournament has been at AlaskaLanes since 2000.
The bowlers come from the central peninsula, Homer, Kodiak, Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.
The dates of the tournament are today through Sunday, then March 19 and 20, and March 26 and 27.
Bowling will be in progress for much of the day on each of those dates, and Nikolas said the public can come and watch for free.
"We'll have people at the tournament who have bowled 300 games and people who have bowled 700 series," Nikolas said. "There will be some high-level bowlers at the tournament."
Bowlers come to the tournament and bowl the games they need to complete their singles, doubles and team divisions. The scores are then posted at AlaskaLanes so those coming in the next day or week can see the marks they must beat.
"The bowling is competitive, but it's also a lot of fun," Nikolas said. "As competitive as everybody is, everybody is still friends."
Nikolas said one of the fun things about state each year is catching up with old friends.
The Soldotna-Kenai Women's Bowling Association and its 173 members are actually co-hosting the event with the Skagway Women's Bowling Association. The arrangement was worked out because Skagway, with just two lanes in town, could never host a state tournament.
The involvement of Skagway in the tournament is reflected in the gold rush theme of the tournament: Strike It Rich in 2005.
The official opening ceremony of the tournament will be 5:30 p.m. Saturday at AlaskaLanes and will last about an hour.
The ceremony will feature awards for local youth, awards for other distinguished bowlers, a skit led by Billie Klem of Skagway and music by Harlan Gambel of Kenai.
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