(updated 1/22/24)

Three winners have been named so far in the 23rd Champion of Champions bowling tournament with the youth winner to be decided this Sunday at Tenpins & More in Rio Rancho.

Antonio Lopez set a new scoring pace record in winning the men’s title, averaging 245.5 over 14 games, while going 12-2 in match-play to win by more than 300 pins.

Lopez, formerly of El Paso, moved to Rio Rancho a couple years ago. “He likes to practice”, said Center manager, Steve Mackie, “and it shows”, he concluded.

Lopez was carding 251.3, including games of 248, 279, 247, 193, 262, 278, 285, 247, 237, 258, 289, 210 and 235 before his last game of 169, bowled with a torn thumb and ripped fingers.

Soccoro’s Joseph Paterson, whose family comes up twice every week for leagues and tournaments, finished second after finishing strong with 257, 225, 239 and 233, running down Isaiah Salinas with his last two games.

Salinas hung on to claim third, three pins ahead of Gil Chavez who closed with 256 for fourth then Seth Muller rounded out the prize-winners, one pin ahead of Steve Shultz.

Native American League bowler, Karen Coffey threw five games, of seven, above 200 and went 6-1 to win the women’s crown over Robin Prioleau by 49 pins. Prioleau struck out with a seven-bagger to keep Marlene Analla in third place.

Coffey averaged 195.2, compared to Prioleau’s 222.5 in the handicap-added final.

Kenneth Friedrich performed a rare “three-peat” win in the Senior final, having won previously in both the last two events.

The Espanola resident, who also comes down here twice a week, was at his best with an 8-1 record and a 236.8 average to win by 220 pins.

Friedrich started quietly with 197 before adding 247, 269, 211, 257, 259, 214, 254 and 224 with his unusual (for a senior bowler) two-handed release.

Chavez, the only male to make two finals finished second ahead of Larry Silva by 19 pins with fast-finishing Blaine Sparks fourth another 21 pins behind, after a 215, 235, 218 closing burst.

* Apart from this Sunday’s youth final, young bowlers have plenty to look forward to over the next nine months.

Upcoming is the New Mexico High Schools State Championships with 5-A schools rolling off Saturday February 3 then a new Spring Doubles League starting Wednesday February 7, both at Tenpins & More.

The Junior Bowlers Tour returns here for their annual “double-header” weekend March 9 & 10, with doubles on Saturday then a singles tournament on Sunday.

Qualifying rounds start in May to decide the local teams who will take on a 12-member squad from Brisbane, Australia in September.

The visiting team has bowlers ranging in age from 12-25.

Sun Jan 21: Youth Champion of Champions final at 9am followed by NMAA Foundation Bowlathon at 1pm