LAS VEGAS – When the World Bowling Senior Championships returns to Las Vegas this week, friends from dozens of countries will be reunited, and new relationships will begin.
Among the nearly 260 competitors from 41 countries will be Team USA’s Tish Johnson and Ron Mohr, who have represented the United States each time since the inaugural event in 2013.
The tournament takes place every two years, and the 2019 edition will be held from Sept. 3-9 at the South Point Bowling Plaza, the recent home of the 2019 World Bowling Women’s Championships. In 2017, the World Senior Championships visited Munich.
Competitors will bowl for medals in singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters competition.
“It has been nice getting to know players from all over the world, and the level of competition seems to get better each year,” Johnson said. “But, I think we have an incredibly talented group, and we work well together. I am confident we can bring home some gold medals again this year.”
Five members of the Team USA contingent also were part of the group that found success in 2017, while the three new additions have represented Team USA on the lanes in the past.
Johnson, a left-hander and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer from Colorado Springs, Colorado, will be joined by fellow USBC Hall of Famers Leanne Hulsenberg of Pleasant View, Utah, and Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Florida, while Sharon Powers of Lakewood, Colorado, will experience the event for the first time.
Mohr, who resides in Las Vegas, again will share the stage with USBC and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III of Jackson, New Jersey and USBC Hall of Famer Lennie Boresch Jr. of Kenosha, Wisconsin, while USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida, makes his tournament debut.
“It’s humbling and flattering to be selected to compete in this event each time and then have some success along the way,” Mohr said. “To be able to compete in Las Vegas is special. I’ve probably adopted the city more than it has adopted me, but I hope there will be some hometown friends and fans to cheer us on. I do feel pretty comfortable with South Point and the environment, so that’s a nice benefit as well.”
To be eligible, bowlers must be 50 years of age or older during the year of the event.
Mohr acknowledged how much stronger the competitors from the other countries seem to be each time they meet, so as talented as his own team is on paper, it will take strong chemistry to elevate them above the field.
“The world has become incredibly and increasingly more competitive, but, even today, if you look at the teams on paper, we should be one of the favorites,” Mohr said. “Unfortunately, we don’t bowl on paper, we bowl on the lanes. So, we’ll see how it works out. It all comes down to how we gel as a team.”
Boresch will be joining Mohr on the lanes for third time, and Bohn will make his second consecutive appearance at the event. That experience, plus the many weeks the team members spend bowling against each other in PBA50 competition, means they’re familiar with each other’s games and demeanor on the lanes.
To maximize their cohesion, there will be conversations among the players and Team USA assistant coach Bill Spigner to clarify how they see things on the lanes and how they prefer to share and receive feedback.
The United States will enter the 2019 World Senior Championships as the defending champion in every event but women’s doubles, and preparing for the event, both on and off the lanes, as noted by Mohr, is not something the team members take lightly.
It already has been announced the upcoming event at the South Point Bowling Plaza will feature one of the oil patterns from World Bowling’s Bank 40, which means it could be any one of six patterns, ranging from 40 to 44 feet.
Though the actual pattern won’t be announced until the team managers’ meeting on Monday, the team members have enough information to get the ball rolling – literally.
To make sure she’s ready for these events, Johnson works with USBC Gold coach Hank Boomershine to select and lay out the equipment they think will work best. Johnson, who has a lifetime of pro shop experience, drills them, adjusts the surfaces and practices as much as possible to get a feel for the arsenal.
As a lifetime professional bowler and pro shop operator, Johnson hopes she can offer her expertise to the team when it comes to ball motion, equipment selection and surface preparation.
Just the opportunity to have teammates, while also representing the United States, is something she always hoped for.
“While I was out on the (Professional Women’s Bowling Association) Tour, I always said I’d like to have the opportunity to represent the United States on the lanes someday. It was something I didn’t know I’d ever get to experience, but I’m very proud to have the opportunity,” Johnson said.
“Being on that stage makes my heart race and makes my hands sweaty. Even during the opening ceremony. The first time up on that podium, I had goosebumps and was shaking. To hear the national anthem and see that flag is as American as it gets.”
Competition at the 2019 World Senior Championships will get underway Wednesday with men’s singles. There will be a formal opening ceremony Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Eastern.
The 41 countries scheduled to participate this year in Las Vegas include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy Japan, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.
For more information on the 2019 World Women’s Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.