LAS VEGAS – Senior Team USA got a double dose of redemption Friday in sweeping the doubles gold medals at the 2019 World Bowling Senior Championships.
Tish Johnson and Leanne Hulsenberg got the job done on the women’s side, while Ron Mohr and Lennie Boresch Jr. took the men’s title. Both duos earned silver medals at the 2017 event in Germany.
This time around, they each took control early at the South Point Bowling Plaza and never looked back.
Hulsenberg (222) and Johnson (221) defeated Germany’s Martina Beckel (204) and Bianca Volkl-Brandt (168) by a final score of 443-372, and Mohr (237) and Boresch (220) cruised to a 457-399 win over Sweden’s Tomas Leandersson (226) and Raymond Jansson (173).
“(Team USA head coach) Rod Ross asked me who I thought I’d like to bowl with this week, and I told him I thought Leanne and I needed to do it for a chance to redeem ourselves,” said Johnson, who picked up a bronze medal in singles Thursday. “Our goal coming in was to win this, and I’m happy we were able to come out ahead.”
In the gold-medal match, Hulsenberg and Johnson struck on three of their first six shots, while the Germans had three open frames and just one strike. Four consecutive strikes from Johnson starting in the sixth frame put the game out of reach.
To earn their spot in the final, Hulsenberg and Johnson slipped past another German duo, Antje Materne and Elke Grawe, 365-337.
Both teams left multiple splits along the way, but a 3-7 conversion from Johnson in the ninth frame was the turning point of the day, not just their semifinal. A double from Hulsenberg in the final frame finished things off.
Beckel and Volkl-Brandt advanced to the final match by defeating Australia’s Jeanette Baker and Mary Dodds, 395-345.
“When Tish picked up the split in the semifinal, I felt like the momentum changed for us, and we were able to keep that going,” Hulsenberg said. “I definitely felt some pressure today, and then relief after. And proud. I am incredibly proud. I have a lot of respect for Tish, and while we’ve only bowled doubles these two times, it’s so easy to bowl with her. We never hit the panic button. We have faith in each other and encouraged each other the whole day.”
At the 2017 World Senior Championships in Munich, Hulsenberg and Johnson lost the doubles final to Canada’s France Joubert and Jill Friis. Boresch and Mohr fell to their Senior Team USA teammates Parker Bohn III and Bob Learn Jr.
In Friday’s title match, Boresch opened with five consecutive strikes, and a string of five strikes from Mohr starting in the fourth frame proved to be more than enough against the Swedes.
The performance was the epitome of teamwork, which Mohr and Boresch, this week’s singles gold medalist, used throughout their six games of qualifying and in the medal round.
“I struggled in singles, which was more mental than anything, but I found something the last game and thought I’d be able to find it again in doubles,” Mohr said. “I knew I needed to step it up, since I was bowling with the gold medal winner. I figured his arm swing already was going to be loose after yesterday, but I wanted to make sure to do my part as well. It turned out we were able to pick each other up when we needed it today, and it was the optimum team effort throughout the day.”
In their semifinal against Sweden’s Per Svensson and Tommy Petersen, Mohr and Boresch combined for 14 strikes on the way to a 437-345 victory. Leandersson and Jansson defeated Norway’s Ingar Gabrielsen and Tore Torgersen, 489-397.
Despite reaching the top of the medal stand on back-to-back days, Boresch was quick to acknowledge his teammates and reiterate that their primary focus in Las Vegas is on a third team gold medal in four editions of the World Senior Championships.
“I’ve had an exciting couple of days, and I’m very happy right now, but I really, really want us to win the team event even more now,” Boresch said. “We can’t let two of the greatest bowlers in the world leave here without a gold medal. I think all of this will sink in once I get home, but the eye is still on the team event, and I know there will be some tough competition.”
Boresch and Mohr will be joined in the team event by Bohn and Walter Ray Williams Jr., who finished eighth in doubles this week.
The men will hit the lanes at the South Point Bowling Plaza for their first three games of team competition Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern. The women’s team event will get underway at 5 p.m. EDT.
Hulsenberg and Johnson will be joined by Lucy Sandelin and Sharon Powers, who were 11th in doubles Friday.
All teams will return Sunday for three additional games on this week’s 42-foot World Bowling Tokyo oil pattern, and six-game pinfall totals will determine the four semifinalists in each division.
The 2019 World Senior Championships features nearly 260 competitors from 41 countries. It 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.