Up Your Alley: Champions will gather at Yosemite

All the qualifying during the year is now over.

Twenty-four of the top bowlers in the Central Valley and Bay Area will be at Yosemite Lanes in Modesto this Sunday for the Tournament of Champions, scheduled to begin at noon.

Bowlers qualified throughout the year by winning a monthly scratch six-gamer or by being a money winner. Six different Kegel oil patterns will be used during the day for each pair of lanes. It starts with the PBA Viper on Lanes 21-22 and finished with a house shot on lanes 31-32.

The top-12 bowlers will cash.

Local Sean McCulloch is a contender after making the cut by $10 as a leading money winner.

An update on the youth scholarships that will be awarded this coming year for local students whose family members are bowlers.

There will be three $1,000 scholarships given out over two semesters, and the annual Joyce Bigham Memorial is a one-time $1,000 award. Bigham was inducted into Merced County Bowling Hall of Fame posthumously in 2009. This scholarship award is courtesy of Don Belden of Los Banos, longtime companion of Bigham.

To qualify, a student's sponsor must be a member of the Merced County USBC Association. They can be an immediate family members, a niece, a nephew, or a foster child. Applications close on Jan. 31. Contact Sharon Roper, scholarship chairman, at (209) 357-0493 for more information.

Nominations for the Merced County Bowling Hall of Fame's Class of 2012 are still open. There are two categories to be recognized: Meritorious Service and Superior Ability. A candidate must have been a sanctioned bowler in the Merced County USBC Association or previous associations for at least 20 years to qualify. Nominations close on Jan. 31. Forms, rules and qualifications are at both centers.

A total of 226 seniors were celebrating New Year's Eve in Paris at McHenry Bowl last Saturday afternoon. The festivities began with a ham luncheon buffet -- with all the trimmings -- before launching into competition with three games of nine-pin on tap.

During the day, the seniors could roll for a money shot of colored head pins with the top shot worth $5. At about five minutes to 3, the lanes handed out engraved glasses with your choice of champagne or sparking cider, noise makers and hats.

This year the tournament featured two divisions, according to your average. Local seniors making some noise with high games were Clarence Allen (278), Jim McMilan (286), Roger Ross (300) and Bob Heller with a 300. The following seniors brought home a few bucks: Kim Heller, T.J. Jensen, Bob Weimer, Allen, McMilan, Ross and Bob Heller. The top local money winner was Jensen with more than $50 in her purse.

At the end of the party, McHenry held a $100 money shot. Several bowlers were picked with a chance at rolling 10 strikes for the money. You started out with eight eight-pin strikes, one nine-pin strike, and a natural strike on your last ball. Local Ed Rowen was picked and won $3. We now call him "Three Dollar Ed."

A total of 17 local seniors rolled the New Year in at McHenry Bowl.

Black Oak Lanes will be hosting its monthly senior no-tap Friday at 1 p.m.. Entry fee is $15, which includes your high-game pot which is paid after every game. The lanes supply the seniors with coffee, cookies and popcorn during the afternoon. This event fills up fast, so make sure that you call Sandy Taylor at (209) 928-9348 to reserve a spot.

Another first for a young man in the Commercial Classic: Andre Brice, who carries a 155 average, rolled his first 200 game. ... In the Friday night handicap, Patrick McGee (135 average) nearly matched Brice's feat, coming tantalizingly close with a 198.

Don Surdich is the Sun-Star's bowling columnist and can be reached at (209) 777-1111 or via e-mail at