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Women bowling pros in Lexington for first time in 15 years

Kelly Kulick, of Union, N.J., reacts during the PBA Tournament of Champions bowling tournament Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, in Las Vegas. Kulick made history by being the first woman to win a PBA Tour Title after defeating Chris Barnes, of Double Oak, Texas, by the score of 265-195 to win the PBA Tournament of Champions.
Kelly Kulick, of Union, N.J., reacts during the PBA Tournament of Champions bowling tournament Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, in Las Vegas. Kulick made history by being the first woman to win a PBA Tour Title after defeating Chris Barnes, of Double Oak, Texas, by the score of 265-195 to win the PBA Tournament of Champions. AP

Professional women’s bowling is returning to Lexington for the first time in 15 years.

The PWBA Lexington Open will start at Collins Bowling Centers-Eastland at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The event will feature two Morehead State alums — Kelly Kulick and Liz Johnson — and the winner of the event here 15 years ago, Leanne Barrette Hulsenberg.

Kulick, 39, from Union Township, N.J., was the first woman to win a PBA event when she prevailed in the Tournament of Champions in January 2010.

She owns six PWBA titles and was a member of Morehead State’s national championship team in 1998. Kulick earned First-Team All-American honors in 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99 and was the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches’ MVP the same three seasons.

Kulick joined the PWBA in 2001, winning Rookie of the Year honors.

Johnson, 42, of Cheektowaga N.Y., owns 15 PWBA titles and was the 1996 Rookie of the Year.

During the 1992-93 season at Morehead, she earned Rookie of the Year honors along with being named First-Team All-American and the national coaches’ MVP.

Johnson owns several USBC Women’s Tournament titles and was the 2015 PWBA Player of the Year.

Hulsenberg, 48, of North Ogden, Utah, won the 2001 Lady Ebonite Kentucky Classic at Eastland when she still went by her maiden name.

She has won 26 PWBA titles with more than $1 million in career earnings. Hulsenberg was the 1987 PWBA Rookie of the Year and was selected PWBA Player of the Year in 1990, 1991 and 2002.

She has won five USBC women’s titles and was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2008.

The event gets underway Thursday with a practice round from 5 to 6:30 p.m. There will be another practice session from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Competition starts at 10:30 a.m. Friday with a six-game qualifying block, and an additional six-game block will be held starting at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, there will be a casher’s round at 8:30 a.m. Round-robin match play is from 1 p.m..to 4 p.m.

Saturday’s stepladder finals will begin at 5 p.m.

In all, the event has drawn 63 professional bowlers. Among 15 amateurs that are also competing is one local bowler, Chelsey Stephens of Frankfort. Stephens, who grew up bowling in the youth program at Eastland, competes in college at Campbellsville.

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