Clearwater's Chris Gifford might have put into words the inspiration more than 7,000 athletes will carry into the U.S. National Senior Sports Classic IV, which opened last Saturday at Baton Rouge, La.
"At age 82, I am going to Baton Rouge, not for a pleasure trip, but to win a national championship." Gifford will compete in the cycling events.
At 93, Jack Vincent of Pinellas Park is the oldest entry in the Classic, which ends Friday. Vincent leads a parade of Suncoast senior bowlers entered, highlighted by St. Petersburg's Willard Patton, an age-division gold medalist last year.
Nearly 400 Florida senior athletes will compete in 14 sports endeavors, including track and field, cycling, tennis, shuffleboard, basketball, softball, golf and bowling.
"Competing with seniors from throughout the nation with good sportsmanship makes us all winners," said bowler Linda Edison of Palm Harbor.
The athletes qualified for the Baton Rouge events through various area senior games. The Good Life Games in Pinellas County drew 1,600 competitors last November and are sponsored by Barnett Banks, WTVT-Ch. 13 and the Times. Other games were held in Sanford and Bradenton.
ABC Tournament historic: Five records were set during the 90th annual ABC Championship Tournament, which ended June 7 at Tulsa, Okla.
The event saw its first three-way tie in doubles. Bruegger's Bagels No. 1 won the team championship with a record 3,537 total. Jeff Nimke of Kenosha, Wisc., set an All-Events record with a 2,254. Sam's Town No. 1 of Las Vegas won team All-Events with a record 10,353.
A record 51 perfect games were rolled. (See For The Record for results).
WIBC Championship ends: Toronto's Karen Collura and her mother, Gloria, claimed the Open Division doubles title, and Karen shared the singles crown with Kari Murph of Dayton, Ohio. Both rolled 747 series to give the tournament only its second tie in the singles event.
Pro bowler Anne Marie Duggan of Edmond, Okla., won the Open Division All-Events with a 1,990.
The Untouchables of Mobile, Ala., won the Division II team title, rolling a 2,495 in the last week of competition. Cynthia Hedge of Branford, Conn., took the singles crown with a 637, also during the final week of action.
Only two Florida bowlers cracked the top five in any division. Penny Guinta of Spring Hill finished fourth in the Division II All-Events with a 1,652; Umatilla's Ellen Blesy was fifth in the singles with a 599.
The tournament completed a 61-day run May 31 at Baton Rouge, La., with more than 47,000 women participating. (See For The Record for results).
Tournament opens: The WIBC-ABC National Mixed Team and Doubles Championship opens Thursday and runs daily through July 4 at Sunshine Bowl in Pinellas Park.
The third annual event drew 836 team entries, including a number of strong teams from the Tampa Bay area. Teams are composed of two women, two men, and the mixed doubles, all bowling handicap. An optional All-Events division also will be contested. Entries are closed.
The event drew teams from across the county and Canada. Tampa's Strom Engineering features Safety Harbor's Chris Evering, a Tournament of the Americas and Team USA competitor.
Cream gets richer: Payoffs in next January's Cream of the Crop Singles and Mixed Doubles Championship at the two Pasco County Lane-Glo centers continue to grow.
The men's singles winner will earn $10,000, the same as last year. However, payoffs for the women's singles, mixed doubles and seniors have each increased from $6,000 to $7,000. Tournament originator Sal Delise announced the increases last week and also indicated "they may rise even further" as more sponsors are signed.
Chris Langlo, co-owner of Lane-Glo Bowl and Lane-Glo North, also indicated that tournament officials are working with the Pasco County Tourist Council, other community organizations and local television stations to get their backing.
Las Vegas bound: More than 400 Florida NABI Club members are headed for Las Vegas this week and the 10th annual NABI National Week at the Showboat Hotel and Casino. The tournament runs from June 17 through 24 and offers more than $400,000 in prize money.
Joe Devita of Tarpon Springs won the NABI Club tournament at Countryside Lanes and earned $1,050 June 6. Devita was the top qualifier and stopped St. Petersburg's Lori Lloyd 193-168 in the finals. Lloyd had beaten two opponents with 200-plus games leading up to the finals.
Mariner Lanes in Spring Hill hosted a NABI event over the weekend. Tournaments this weekend are at Lane-Glo Bowl, Largo Lanes and Altamonte Springs.
Around The Lanes: Hudson Bowl offers a late-night team tournament Saturday with a $125 entry fee and a Father's Day no-tap event Sunday with a $10 entry fee.