LAS VEGAS – The team event at the 2019 World Bowling Senior Championships reached its halfway point Saturday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, and both Senior Team USA teams are among the top four in their respective divisions.
All competitors will return to the lanes Sunday for three additional games, after which, the top four teams in each category will advance to the semifinals based on their six-game pinfall totals.
The Senior Team USA women improved each game and powered into the lead with a big finish. They rolled games of 749, 814 and 848 for a 2,411 total. Australia is second with 2,351 and followed by Finland (2,338) and Germany (2,289). Japan is just below the cutline with 2,284.
Leanne Hulsenberg led the way for the United States with a 718 series and was joined by Lucy Sandelin (593), Tish Johnson (557) and Sharon Powers (543). Hulsenberg and Johnson teamed to win the doubles gold medal Friday, and Johnson earned a singles bronze medal earlier in the week.
The United States women won the team event in 2015 and 2017, after settling for a bronze medal in 2013.
Finland ended the first day of team competition atop the men’s standings with a 2,621 total, a 218.42 average.
Senior Team USA is 13 pins behind the Finns with a 2,608 total and followed by Sweden (2,603) and Mexico (2,478). Japan is fifth with 2,435.
The United States is the two-time defending champion in the men’s team event and looking to collect a third title in four editions of the World Senior Championships. Sweden claimed the team gold medal at the inaugural event in 2013.
Ron Mohr, who has competed in the tournament each time it has been held, led the way for the reigning champions Saturday with a 686 series. He was joined by Lennie Boresch Jr. (661), Parker Bohn III (655) and Walter Ray Williams Jr. (606).
Mohr and Boresch are a day removed from winning the doubles gold medal, and Boresch started the week with a singles win.
The team was consistent Saturday with games of 858, 857 and 893, and Mohr attributed the solid effort to good communication.
“The team event is why we’re here,” Mohr said. “Sure, we want to do well in the other events, but this is the one everyone remembers – not just the bowlers, but everyone who comes to this tournament. We’re definitely pleased with where we are, and if we can continue to communicate well tomorrow and do what we did today, I think we’ll be in good shape. The goal is to make the medal round, then anything can happen.”
The end of the team event Sunday also will determine this year’s all-events champions.
Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the top three performers in each category based on their 18-game pinfall totals, while the top 24 qualify for the tournament-ending Masters event.
With three games to go, Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi leads the men with a 3,388 total, a 225.87 average. His total includes the week’s only perfect game.
Andrew Thorpe of Australia is second with 3,357, and Alfonso Rodriguez of Mexico is third with 3,335.
Senior Team USA’s Mohr, the defending all-events champion, is sixth with 3,277, Boresch is eighth (3,265), Bohn is 12th (3,209) and Williams is 24th (3,082). Bohn is the defending Masters champion.
Hulsenberg, who won the all-events title in 2017, holds a commanding lead on the women’s side with a 15-game total of 3,212, a 214.13 average. She is followed by Jeanette Baker of Australia (3,091) and Susanne Olsson of Sweden (3,065).
Senior Team USA’s Johnson is sixth (3,023), Powers is tied for 10th (2,962) and Sandelin is 30th (2,806).
The women will hit the lanes first Sunday for their final three games of team competition and will get underway at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The men will bowl at 4:30 p.m. EDT, and both medal rounds will take place simultaneously, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.
For the team medal rounds, the format will shift from traditional team games to a best-of-three Baker format.
In Monday’s Masters event, the top eight players from the all-events standings will get a first-round bye, while the remaining players (No. 9-24) will enter the single-elimination bracket. Masters matches all will be best-of-three. The top eight players will enter the bracket for Step 2.
The 2019 World Senior Championships features nearly 260 competitors from 41 countries. There are 38 complete teams on the men’s side and 21 in the women’s field.
This is the fourth edition of the event, which debuted in 2013 and is held every two years.
Competitors are bowling for medals in singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters competition.
To be eligible, bowlers must be 50 years of age or older during the year of the event.
The 41 countries represented this week in Las Vegas are 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 Senior Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.