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Lecanto's Collins comes of age in Team USA bid

Better late than never. That's part of the philosophy of Lecanto's Craig Collins, 32, as he prepares to compete this weekend at the Team USA State Championships at Orlando's Colonial Lanes.

"Earl Anthony didn't turn pro until he was 29, so I figure I'm not over the hill yet," Collins said Friday.

He is being sponsored by Parkview Lanes in Holder, and is one of four bowlers with Citrus County ties scheduled to compete. The others are Citrus Springs' Shelly McDonald, Crystal River's Mike Buchanan and Gainesville's Mike Nickel.

The top three male and female finishers in Orlando will be among the select field of about 170 bowlers when the Team USA National Championships are conducted Aug. 7-14 at Stonehedge Place in Akron, Ohio, according to Team USA tournament director Chris Lemke.

Collins, owner of a wholesale plant nursery, has some credentials to support his backing by the local bowling center. He won the all-events scratch division with 1,807 pins during the Citrus County Championships at Parkview Lanes and Manatee Lanes in March.

"I'm planning on doing well," Collins said. "I seem to bowl better the harder the shot, which is kind of weird. Maybe it has to do with concentration.

"I was at a World Cup qualifier in April in Tampa and won that with a 216 average for 10 games. The regional finals will be held in August in Altamonte Springs, and the national finals for World Cup are in Virginia in September."

Collins said he has no intention of turning professional. His best game is 268, best series 720 to date.

Colonial Lanes is a house Collins has rolled in before, but that holds no particular advantage for him now.

"It will be totally different from when I bowled there because of the way they dress the lanes for Team USA," Collins said. "It won't be your normal house conditions.

"But (competing in a Team USA event) is something I felt I'd like to try. I've learned so much about bowling in the past three years I wish I'd known when I was younger, like how to properly release the ball and how different weights affect ball reaction."

Collins uses a 16-pound Burgundy Hammer ball.

Weekly no-tap: Parkview Lanes has weekly no-tap events each Saturday at 8 p.m. The cost is $12 per week, with $2 of the entry fee going into a 300-game pot. Bowlers must have participated in two of the three previous weekly tournaments to qualify for the jackpot money.

Call (904) 489-6933 for more information.

Summer bargain: A Summer Sunday Bargain Night will be offered weekly beginning June 27 from 6 p.m. to closing at Manatee Lanes.

Open bowling is $1 a game and no coupons will be valid during the special. The bargain will not be available July 4, however, according to Manatee Lanes league coordinator and YABA director Cathy Pearson.

The new YABA Classic League got off to a good start last week with 16 teams.

"The kids are happy with the format," Pearson said. "We bowl every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and have 48 kids."

Juniors interested in becoming involved in the YABA Classic League may become pacers in the event a current team drops out. Call 795-4546 for more information.

Doubles event: A doubles tournament is planned this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sportsmen's Bowl in Inverness.

Teams will roll four games and the entry fee is $20 per team. Call the house at 726-2873 for more information.

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