As Liz Kuhlkin prepares physically and mentally for another season on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour, she feels even more pressure to succeed. New equipment and more notable achievements on her resume mean higher expectations for the 24-year-old Rotterdam native.
The Schalmont High School and Nebraska graduate begins the PWBA season April 26-28 at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas. That event will be the first of 14 on Kuhlkin’s busy schedule, and she plans on competing in every one. The PWBA Tour will take her as far away as Rohnert Park, Calif., to Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and to Copperfield Bowl in Houston, to name just a few long road trips. Closer to home will be stops in Hartford, Conn., for the PWBA East Hartford Open on May 31-June 2, and the ABC West in Mechanicsburg, Pa., for the PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open on June 14-16.
Kuhlkin recently switched equipment companies from Hammer to Brunswick, and she was named to Team USA, meaning she will have a chance to represent the country in international events, just as she did as a member of Junior Team USA in 2014, when she captured a gold medal in doubles and added two bronze medals at the 2014 World Bowling Youth Championships.
Kuhlkin has excelled at every level on the lanes. She was a standout at Schalmont and on the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour before bowling for Nebraska, where she was a member of two national championship teams, earned first-team All-America honors in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and was named the NCAA Division I Player of the Year in 2015.
Since then, Kuhlkin made a name for herself by winning her first PWBA title at the 2015 Topeka Open, adding a regional win at the 2016 Maple City Dodge East Open in Hornell, and then rolling the highest triple for a woman in the nation (890), breaking the Schenectady Bowling Association record at Towne Bowling Academy.
“It will be a little different this year,” Kuhlkin said during a break from her job at the Market 32 Bistro in Latham. “There is added responsibility for me switching ball companies, and I have a little more stress getting used to all my new equipment. It’s always important to know your equipment before you go out on tour, but now I have many new bowling balls that give me ball-reaction shapes I didn’t have before. I’m spending a lot of my time working on my arsenal.”
Kuhlkin, like most elite bowlers, competes every chance she gets. “This year, I’ve been fortunate that there are a lot of amateur tournaments every weekend. It seems I’m bowling somewhere every week, and a lot of the events are close to home. I get to try new challenging patterns,” she said.
Besides bowling in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial Monday nights at Towne, she also competes in the Reis Group Women’s Doubles there. She practices at Towne every Thursday night. “We have a group of guys, including Matt Fazzone, who drills my equipment, and Nick Galusha, who practices on Thursday nights about 8:30. There are about 10 of us. It’s a lot of fun, because it’s nice to have some camaraderie while practicing,” she said.
Kuhlkin finished in the top 24 at the prestigious Bud Bowl in Oswego last weekend, and she’s rolled a pair of 800 triples in league play over the last three weeks. “I feel I’m bowling great right now. I’m probably throwing the ball as well as I have since I was a junior bowler or a senior in college,” she said.
“But right now, I feel maybe a little added pressure, because I’m probably the highest-profile bowler on the Brunswick staff, and I’m also representing Team USA.”
Physically, besides plenty of practice, Kuhlkin makes sure to work out at the gym at Planet Fitness and get plenty of home cooking.
“I’m pretty busy right now, working two jobs, but I’ve realized over the last three years that it’s important to have endurance, stamina and strength, especially in my legs,” she said. “I get on the treadmill as much as possible at the gym, and I really try to do leg conditioning. Fortunately, I live with my parents still, and my mother is a great cook. I eat a balanced meal every night. One thing I’ve noticed is that if you have a regimen where you eat at the same time every day, it really helps your metabolism. Balanced, home cooking is great, and I try to avoid fast food when I can.
“I’m ready to go,” she said.
STRIKES & SPARES
The Schenectady USBC annual delegate meeting will be held April 15 at 6 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Each sanctioned league is allowed one delegate vote. The agenda will include a status report on the association, and the election of four directors to the board of directors for a three-year term. Anyone interested in running may obtain an application from the association office at Boulevard Bowl, or from committee chair Marie Moorhead. Schenectady USBC president Bill Nolan will be available to answer questions and take suggestions at the end of the meeting.
Kenny Hall, 60, a former PBA touring pro who runs a pro shop at Spare Time Latham, has announced he will retire on May 15.
Schenectady County Community College’s women’s team, the four-time NJCAA national champion, earned the right to compete in the 2018 Intercollegiate Team Championships April 19-21 at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska. The finals will be taped for broadcast and televised on CBS Sports Network in May.
Hometown Lanes hosts the next New Era Senior Tour stop, the Century Doubles, Saturday at noon.
The next group of qualifiers for the Joe & Tom Donato Scratch Singles will be Friday at 7 p.m. at Kingpin Alley’s Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls, and at 9:30 p.m. at Starlite Lanes in Gloversville. There is also a qualifier Saturday at Valley Bowl in Randolph, Vt., at 1 p.m. Call Tommy Donato at 518-788-0771 for more information.
Towne Bowling Academy will host the Mixed Doubles tournament Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and noon. The squads are limited to 30 teams per squad. Contact Tom Earl at [email protected] for more information or to reserve your spot.
The first squad for the annual Blizzard Bowl at Boulevard Bowl will be Sunday at 11:45 am. Entry fee is $80 per four-person team. A continental breakfast is included.
At last weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at the OnCenter in Syracuse, Lansingburgh finished second in both the boys’ and girls’ Division 2. Mohonasen was fourth in the girls’ Division 1 group, and Guilderland was eighth in the boys’ Division 1.
Mohonasen’s Liz Ross had the top series for girls’ Division 1 with a 1,180 six-game block for a 196.67 average. Section II’s all-section boys’ team was fifth. The Section II girls were fourth.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.
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