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A star is born at USBC Queens

Chris Barnes showed his knowledge of bowling during the USBC Queens telecast.
Chris Barnes showed his knowledge of bowling during the USBC Queens telecast.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Did you get a chance to watch Thursday’s highly entertaining United States Bowling Congress Queens stepladder finals tournament?

If you did, you witnessed a star being born.

Here’s a brief recap of what happened:

Fourth-seeded Kelly Kulick put on a brilliant display in winning her first three matches, carving out resounding victories of 255-220 over Missy Parkin, 268-209 over Jennifer Higgins and 248-137 over Tannya Roumimper.

For those three games, Kulick totaled a sizzling 761 in routing her opponents and earning a spot in the championship match against top-seeded Maria Jose Rodriguez.

Kulick didn’t slack off in the early going against Rodriguez before the live ESPN telecast was interrupted because of technical difficulties. Both Kulick and Rodriguez were reportedly held back from bowling for about 10 minutes and several frames were lost in the telecast by the time it resumed.

Rodriguez wound up as the winner in a nail-biting finish, 190-189, as Kulick’s strike ball deserted her after the early going.

But now back to the star being born.

No, that wasn’t Kulick, the 37-year-old Queens champion of 2007 and 2010 who was the first woman to claim a Professional Bowlers Assn. tournament title when she won the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas.

That was Chris Barnes, who was especially terrific as the color commentator on the show.

The 44-year-old Barnes is more well-known as a prolific pro bowler who has won more than $2 million during his 15-year career on the PBA tour.

He has 17 career tour titles and earlier this year led the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters to the PBA League title. Barnes also is a standout coach and his ability in that space has touched San Fernando Valley bowlers.

During his clinic at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana last year, for example, student Siena Cawelti said of the teacher: “The clinic was phenomenal. I want to try to do it every year. It was really very helpful. Chris Barnes is like my idol as far as PBA guys. The greatest thing about the clinic was watching him bowl live.”

It’s probably those two strengths – his actual bowling and coaching – that makes Barnes a natural as a color commentator. To be sure, the USBC Queens wasn’t the first time Barnes has helped out in bowling broadcasts, but he was particularly outstanding on Thursday.

Barnes was incisive and informative and easy to understand. And he was knowledgeable. This is what he said about Kulick when asked by his broadcasting partner to describe her form:

“This has been the premier player in the ladies tour the last few years. Great upper-body position. Her head doesn’t move an inch. And she’s perfectly centered. Her core is perfect. She’s in perfect follow-through. Her head stays behind her knee and therefore her shoulder doesn’t go forward and she doesn’t miss left. And the end result is the best combination of accuracy and power in today’s women’s bowling.”

The only time Barnes got a bit tongue-tied was when he was asked about Kulick’s Tournament of Champions title in 2010.

Barnes happened to be Kulick’s victim in the championship match. On the strength of 10 strikes, Kulick defeated Barnes, 265-195.