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NEWS | Jan. 10, 2008

Air Force selects bowling team

By Tony Perez 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office

The Air Force Bowling Team concluded their team selection process early on the morning of Jan. 3.

Fifty Airmen competed at Lackland AFB, hoping to qualify for the four women and four men spots on the team.

The tournament began on Dec. 31. All competitors bowl six games every day.

The eight selected are in Hawaii competing in the Armed Forces Bowling Championship at Schofield Barracks.

Melody McTaggart, 59th Medical Inpatient Squadron, finished first overall for the women's team.

"I didn't expect this on my first year coming out," said McTaggart. "I was just hoping to make the team. After the first day, I had surprised myself. I just stayed consistent."

Her average after 24 games was 182.50 and she finished the tournament with a total score of 4,380 points. The University of Florida graduate has been bowling since she was 4 years old, and was a member of the University of Florida bowling team.

"Those competitions prepared me for this, but I was still surprised by how close the competition was," McTaggart said.

McTaggart will be joined by fellow Team Lackland member Pamela Matthews, 37th Communications Squadron. Mathews finished third with an average of 173.96 and 4,175 total points.

Trish Rodgers, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, came in second place with an average of 177.67 and a score of 4,264 points.

The fourth member of the Women's Air Force Bowling Team is Carol Becker, Offutt AFB, Neb. She finished with a 173.96 average and 4,175 points. Becker is McTaggart's mother.

"I'm definitely very happy to be going with my mom to Hawaii. She has been my coach my whole life," McTaggart said.

Becker had been a member of the Air Force team numerous times in the past. Still, as she nears retirement this one is a bit more special for her.

"This is one of the things that kept me from retiring. I just wanted the opportunity to participate again," Becker said. "You get to meet so many different people from the different services, but you also get to see old friends."

Becker is also a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2006 and spent 2007 in chemotherapy. Even though she is in remission, side effects from her treatment, such as complete numbness in her feet and partial numbness in her hands, continue to linger. Fortunately, that has not affected her bowling.

"Thankfully, I didn't lose any of my strength, so I can bowl just fine," Becker said.

McTaggart and Becker will compete as doubles partners at the Armed Forces Bowling Championship.

In the men's division, Randy Lightsey, Shaw AFB, S.C., finished first overall with a 196.38 average and a total score of 4,713 points. This will be Lightsey's first Armed Forces Bowling Championship.

"This is a good tournament to come to. I've been to a lot of other tournaments, but the camaraderie is just great out here," said Lightsey.

Martin Bedford, Bolling AFB, District of Columbia, came in second place with a 195 average and a 4,680 score. Bedford was also a member of Team USA bowling team two years ago.

Tyler Seldon, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, finished third with a 194.63 average and 4,671 total points.

Todd Pallas, Ellsworth AFB, S.D., rounded out the men's team with an average of 190.21 and 4,565 total points.

"This is a great crew," Lightsey said. "I've known these guys for years, for almost my entire Air Force career."

This year the Armed Forces Championship will feature a combined total pin score for the team event, instead of separate men and women team events.

"I'm confident that we have the best bowlers in the Air Force and we will do very well," said coach Chuck Hall.