Lisa Wagner had won 29 championships in her 17-year career on the Ladies Professional Bowlers Tour (LPBT), but never the WIBC Queens _ until May 18, that is, at the WIBC Tournament in Buffalo, N.Y.
Wagner was voted Bowler of the Decade for the 1980s, but the '90s haven't been kind to the Bradenton right-hander. She won six titles during that decade, but was 15th in earnings and 20th in average last season.
During presentation of her Queens check, Wagner's fiance, Bradenton's Brian Ellert, went to his knees and proposed. Wagner, a day prior to her 35th birthday, accepted both the $12,675 check and the proposal.
"I think the proposal was a bigger surprise than winning because I did not expect it," Wagner said. "I never have made the show and I don't care who you are, this one is always hard."
Four opponents stood in the way of Wagner's quest: Diana Teeters of Bossier City, La; Jeanne Naccarato of Tacoma, Wash.; Sandra Ranallo of Rochester, N.Y., and Tammy Turner of West Palm Beach. Wagner rolled 200-plus games to beat the first three, then strung four strikes and held on to beat Turner 231-226 for the championship. Ironically, Wagner and Turner are featured side-by-side in the LPBT program.
Wagner was third in the 424-woman match-play field after the first five qualifying games and finished 11th. She won four consecutive matches before falling to Ranallo, beating Teeters and losing to Naccarato in the match for third and fourth place in the finals.
PGA NOTES: Almost a year to the day, Southland Lanes in Pinellas Park will host another PBA regional tournament July 19-21.
Pensacola's Don Best Jr. won the 1995 stop, which drew about 100 local, state and national pros.
Southland owners Rocco and J.R. Sarley say they expect a larger field this year. For more information, call 545-0943.
Lane-Glo Bowl in New Port Richey will stage a regional June 28-30, and the Southland event will be followed by a regional stop July 26-28 at Spring Hill Lanes.
In an interesting development that bodes well for the regionals, Kessler American Blended Whiskey will sponsor three regionals, offering 12 bowlers a chance at $50,000. Unfortunately, the stops are in Michigan, Wisconsin and California.
Steve Hoskins of Tarpon Springs is eighth on the PBA money list with more than $80,000. He won his fourth career title at the Comfort Inn Classic at Sunrise last March. Bob Learn Jr. of Erie, Pa., is leading with more than $200,000 earned.
Dave Traber of Woodstock, Ill., beat Jess Stayrook of Tempe, Ariz., 242-201 to win the IOF Foresters Open at Mississauga, Ontario, May 18. Mike Aulby of Indianapolis defeated Walter Ray Williams Jr. to win the Baltimore Open Saturday. Hoskins was 15th.
SULLIVAN WINS: Largo's Jim Sullivan added more hardware to his already loaded trophy case, winning the doubles and singles at the 32nd annual Florida Wheelchair Bowling Association's state championship in Apopka this month.
Sullivan and Venice partner Tim Hall defeated Orlando's Walt Vanlier and Jack Powell to capture the Ronnie Ritcherson Memorial doubles title. Sullivan then stopped Longwood's Steve Martinson to win the A Division singles crown. Sullivan has won three national titles and state titles in Texas, Illinois, Kansas and Michigan, but this was his first Florida championship.
Treasure Island's Bob Moran defeated Apopka's Jim Mathis for the Scratch Division title, and Spring Hill's Tom Fahey bested Jack Powell to win the B Division crown. Fahey treks all the way from Spring Hill to bowl in the Largo Lanes' wheelchair league.
As tournament director, Sullivan now has the task of organizing the American Wheelchair Bowling Association's national championship June 17-22 at Largo Lanes.
ABC-WIBC TOURNEYS: Former Team USA partners Linda Kelly and Mandy Wilson of Dayton, Ohio, posted a 1,410 total and a 558 game, both records, to take the Classic Division doubles lead in the WIBC Tournament.
The Naccarato Group of Tacoma, Wash., posted a record 3,184 to grab the Classic Division team lead. Jeanne Naccarato, an LPBT player, led the assault with a 710 series.
Largo's Judy Hettinger is tied for second with a 635 series in Division One singles. Barbara Hansen of Marstons Mills, Mass., leads with a 652. Hettinger is the first Florida entrant to crack the top five in any division since the tournament started.
There were no leader changes in the ABC Tournament at Salt Lake City, but 33 300 games have been rolled.
LEGLER WINS NABI: Jeff Legler stopped James Segovia, both from St. Petersburg, to win the NABI tournament at Liberty Lanes May 19. Dunedin's Fred Heiferman was third.
Palmetto's Alex Mihalibabas won the Brunswick Rhino pro shootout and earned a trip to the NABI Nationals June 14-21 at Las Vegas.
AROUND THE LANES: Dave Simmons fired a 300-716 at Rainbow Lanes. The Classic Challenge is at Seminole Lanes this weekend with a $30 entry fee and $1,200 payoff. Team USA-96 swept the men's and women's titles in Sydney, Australia, recently. Team USA-97 qualifying continues at participating centers through June. The state finals will be held at Palmetto's Galaxy Lanes June 22-23. Retired ABC field representative Monte Nakano of Augusta, Ga., died last week. He served the Southeastern region from 1997 until retiring a year ago.
_ Phil Gulick can be reached by e-mail at Xerxes6aol.com.