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New USBC gets ball rolling for 2005 season

Instead of the usual year-end review, let's look ahead to what 2005 will bring to the international, national and local bowling communities.

Starting with a bang is the biggie: The new United States Bowling Congress (USBC) opened operations Saturday.

The USBC merges the American Bowling Congress (ABC), Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC), Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) and USA Bowling into one organization.

Its officers have been elected, its tax code verified and its organization chart formed. The USBC board of directors will meet March 20-21 after the ABC convention in Baton Rouge, La., and April 25-26 after the WIBC convention in Tulsa, Okla.

Associations across the country have until May 31 to file for merger with the USBC or go it alone.

Team USA 2005 berths will be the prize at the USA Bowling National Amateur Championships. The Jan. 9-14 tournament in Dallas will be the first event conducted by the USBC.

The top five men and top five women qualify for the squad. Another three men and three women will be chosen by a national selection committee based on performance, physical and mental game and team play.

Locally, the new Storm National Mixed Team Challenge Series starts Feb. 19 at Orlando's Boardwalk Bowl and moves to Seminole Lanes in Pinellas County on Feb. 20. The entry fee for a four-player team that must include at least one woman is $300. For information, call 1-800-514-2695, ext. 3415.

AMF Clearwater and Countryside lanes will be home for the Florida State Men's Association Tournament. The Suncoast Association will play host to the April 23-June 26 event. Seminole Lanes and Sunshine Bowl have the Florida Women's Association State Tournament. The St. Petersburg Women's Association is host of the May 7-June 12 event.

The St. Petersburg Association's 68th annual city tourney is April 2-3 and April 9-10 at AMF Kenneth City Lanes. The Suncoast Association City Tournament is awaiting a contract signing between the ABC and a center before dates can be determined.

The PBA tour has 12 more stops until the Dexter Tournament of Champions finale, April 6-10 in Uncasville, Conn. The new 64-person limited field includes women for the first time, and 12 are registered PBA members. The PBA Senior Tour opens a 10-stop schedule April 16-20.

The new University of South Florida squads, coached by Bill and Cheryl Bedford, continue collegiate competition with several local and national tournaments.

JUNIORS INVITED: The Florida Youth Scratch Bowlers Tour visits Lakeland's Orange Bowl on Jan. 15-16 for a Junior Gold event with a $500 payoff to the top division winners, based on 30 entries. Registration fees are $50 if you have bowled in three tour events, $60 for others and walk-ins. The upper division is for players with 185 or above averages, the lower for 184 and below.

AROUND THE LANES: A coaches meeting for the Spring High School League is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Countryside Lanes. Rainbow Lanes was to have been sold at public auction Monday, but its owners decided to declare bankruptcy at the last minute.