Liz Kuhlkin is always chasing new goals and new accomplishments. She’s not afraid to test herself against the best bowlers in the nation, and she will do whatever it takes to improve an already impeccable game.
Fresh off a dream season, when she not only helped Nebraska win the national collegiate bowling crown as the Most Valuable Bowler of the NCAA championships but also earned NTC All-America honors, the Schalmont High School graduate worked even harder in the off-season last summer.
The result? A brilliant performance in the prestigious Junior Gold Championships in Detroit and a berth on the 2014 Junior Team USA squad.
“It was quite an experience,” said Kuhlkin. “At the end of three days of qualifying during the Junior Gold Championship, I was first, and I automatically got a bid on the Junior Team USA squad.”
Although Kuhlkin won’t get a chance to participate until next summer, she can’t wait to represent her country in international competition.
“Technically, there is not much going on right now, as far as Team USA is concerned,” she said. “Once it gets closer to January, I start sending videos of my game to the Team USA coaches. They know my game already, but they will look at my videos to see if anything has changed. A lot of us on the Junior Team USA are on college teams, and we can’t go and practice with the coaches in Texas, which is where the Team USA headquarters are.”
Kuhlkin said she will eventually go to a Team USA camp, where they will test her rev rate and let her try some of the new bowling equipment available.
“From that camp, they will test our performance and decide which of the 10 of us will compete for Team USA in Hong Kong. Only four of us will go, and I will have a lot of competition,” she said.
“It’s a very big deal for me, and I want to work as hard as I possibly can. There are a lot of girls on Team USA who are extremely talented. Just like I’ve always dreamed of winning a national championship, I’ve been dreaming about making Team USA. It’s pretty crazy.”
Kuhlkin said that many college bowlers who make the Junior Team USA squad don’t actually get to compete.
“What happens is that some of them turn 21 before the championships, and they can’t go. I’m fortunate that I didn’t turn 21 until September,” she said. “I’ll still be able to go next summer. It’s another part of my bowling game that makes me work even harder to succeed.”
Kuhlkin said she got a lot of support from her Nebraska coaches and college teammates.
“They were very supportive. My coaches were there in Detroit with me, and they were extremely happy for me. They’ve had Junior Team USA members at Nebraska before, and they know what kind of honor it is.
“Plus, a lot of my teammates are members of their own country’s team. My roommate is part of Team England, and we also have players at Nebraska who are on Team Columbia and Team Singapore.”
But her Junior Team USA stint is a long way off. These days, Kuhlkin is prepping for the upcoming college season.
“We just began practicing the first week of October. We can practice six days a week for about three hours a day,” she said. “We open the season with a tournament in Valparaiso, Ind., the second week of November.”
Kuhlkin said her Cornhuskers are primed to repeat.
“We would all love another title,” she said. “We were just recently ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, and we got 19 first-place votes out of a possible 25. It’s nice to know that you have the respect of the other programs.”
Kuhlkin said that Nebraska only lost two bowlers from last year’s team, and all the Cornhuskers are commited to winning another national title.
As a sophomore last season, Kuhlkin led the Cornhuskers with a 214.9 average, and her average during the NCAAs jumped up to 219.8. She made four all-tournament teams.
A standout in the classroom, she made the All-Big Ten academic team, as well as the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete honor roll in both the fall and spring semesters.
As a freshman, Kuhlkin averaged 193 during the NCAAs and had a 197.4 average during the regular season.
At Schalmont, Kuhlkin bowled an 835 triple and was honored as the USBC youth female high average winner. She led the Sabres to the Section II Class B title.
BIG DOUBLES WIN
Veteran Sonny Dorstek and John Walther III teamed up to win the first major event of the year in the New Era Digger’s Doubles event at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy.
The tournament pitted an over-50 bowler with an under-50 bowler. Dorstek, who dominated the old Northern Bowlers Association tour and then won numerous PBA regional crowns, rolled an 884 four-game series, while Walther, the son of the late Johnny Walther, who at one time was considered among the area’s best bowlers, added a 960 for a qualifying total of 1,844. The other qualifiers were Steve Wagoner with Mike Tryinski (1,758), Rich Strath with Tim Banta (1,669), Don Herrington with Rick Bogholtz (1,661) and Steve Gabriel with Matt Bosco (1,658).
Dorstek and Walther defeated Strath and Banta, 480-394, in the finals. They split $1,110, while Strath and Banta took home $550.
STRIKES & SPARES
- Bill Poirier fired a career-best 288-793 triple in the Tuesday Nite Classic at Sportsman’s Bowl. Poirier topped the card that night, and was incorrectly listed as Bill Pulver.
- The Towne Bowling Academy Scratch Challenge will be held Sunday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Entry fee is $55, and there is a guaranteed top prize of $800. The tournament will be bowled on a challenging PBA pattern. Prizes will be awarded on a one-in-five ratio. The format will be a five-game sweeper. Call Towne at 355-3939 for more information.
- Qualifying for the first handicap show of the season on the Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” began on Monday and will continue all month. Bowlers can qualify through their own leagues. Entry fee is just $10.
- The first Huck Finn scratch singles qualifiers of the year will be Oct. 19 at 3:30 p.m. at Hi-Way Recreation and Oct. 20 at
9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Spare Time-Latham. Finals follow immediately on Oct. 20. The TV taping will be Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. at Middleburgh Lanes. The first show of the new season will air Nov. 10 at
10:30 a.m. on MY4 TV.
- The 27th annual women’s senior singles tournament will be held Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl. Entry forms were given to all league secretaries. to get a form, contact Sandy Knabner at 399-3759.
- The Rolling Greens Classic is now the Dick Peckham Classic. The legendary bowler died just last week.
- Heading into the final event of the World Tenpin Bowling Association World Bowling Tour season, the women’s race is determined but plenty of drama remains on the men’s side. Sean Rash of the United States leads a tight grouping near the top of the men’s points list, while Kelly Kulick has a stranglehold on the women’s standings heading into the final event.
- The 2012-13 PBA Player of the Year race got even more interesting last weekend, when Mika Koivuniemi, a Finnish native now living in Hartland, Mich., won his third PBA International Tour title of the season, defeating fellow Finn Pasi Uotila, 258-237, in the title match of the Columbia 300 Vienna Open at Plus Bowling Center. Koivuniemi became the first PBA Tour player to win three titles — all on foreign soil — during the 2012-13 season. Jason Belmonte, Australia (Bear Open and USBC Masters) and Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Chameleon Open and Earl Anthony PBA Players Championship), are the only other multiple title winners this season with two each.
- The Cohoes Men’s Individual league, which bowls Thursday mornings at 9:30 at Cohoes Arena, is looking for bowlers. The format is four games, and the weekly dues are $15. Contact Bob Weiner for more information.
- Due to a scheduling conflict, Tom Donato’s Tavern Tournament won’t be held Oct. 26 at 2:30 p.m. at Towne Bowling Academy. A new date will be announced shortly. Entry fee still will be $100 per four-person teams Top prize will be $400 to the winning team, based on 20 teams. One in five teams will cash. Special prizes and a buffet will be included. Call Donato at 496-7812 or Towne Bowling Academy for more information.