LAS VEGAS – For the third consecutive time, the United States swept the team gold medals at the World Bowling Senior Championships.
The Senior Team USA women topped Australia, 2-0 (232-164, 236-180) in the best-of-three Baker final Sunday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, and the men picked up a 2-0 (215-168, 211-205) victory over Finland.
Led by all-events gold medalist Leanne Hulsenberg, the Senior Team USA women struck often and marked in all but one frame during the gold-medal match to hold off the Australians, who only threw six strikes during the two games.
“I think the team gold is the coolest because you get to share it with your teammates, but it also was the most stressful because you never want to let them down,” said Hulsenberg, who also won doubles this week with left-hander Tish Johnson. “In the Baker format, anything can happen. We, and I mean I, had a little trouble early on, and I was really nervous. The others were rock steady until I was able to calm down. It definitely was intense, but it was a lot of fun, too.”
Hulsenberg was joined in the win by Johnson, Sharon Powers and Lucy Sandelin.
Johnson has been part of the team for all four editions of the World Senior Championships, which first was held in 2013 and is held every two years. Hulsenberg was part of the win in 2017, and Sandelin was atop the podium with Johnson in 2015. Powers, who had an outstanding week at the 2018 Pan American Bowling Confederation Senior Championships, made her debut on the world stage this week.
Australia’s roster included two-time QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup champion Jeanette Baker, Heather Robertson, Christine Clark and Mary Dodds.
On the way to the showdown with Australia, the United States dropped its opening semifinal game to Germany, 182-172, before rallying with wins of 214-206 and 215-171. Australia’s semifinal against Sweden also went three games (167-181, 211-193, 223-195). Germany and Sweden each received bronze medals.
The Senior Team USA men had a little shorter path to the title, winning four consecutive games in the medal round.
Anchor Parker Bohn III, a two-time participant at the World Senior Championships, needed a mark in his final frame to complete the sweep. He left the 6-9 combination on his first shot and converted it for the win.
He was joined on the lanes by four-time World Senior Championships participant Ron Mohr, three-time team member Lennie Boresch Jr. and first-time competitor Walter Ray Williams Jr., a multi-time world champion as a member of adult Team USA.
Sunday’s team win gave Boresch his third gold medal of the week – he also won singles and teamed with Mohr for the doubles title – but the latest win was the most special.
“This is what we came here for, and we got it done, which is an incredible feeling,” Boresch said. “We bowled well, kept the pressure on them and had a couple breaks go our way. There’s nothing like standing on that podium together, and to do it three times in a row is pretty awesome.”
Finland’s roster included Kimmo Lehtonen, Kai Virtanen, Mika Luoto and Mika Koivuniemi.
To set up the championship meeting, the top-seeded United States defeated Germany, 2-0 (247-154, 212-184), and Finland topped Sweden, 2-1 (201-202, 212-189, 226-212). Germany and Sweden each received bronze medals.
The four Senior Team USA men are incredibly accomplished individually, and they’ve combined for 115 national titles in Professional Bowlers Association and PBA50 competition.
Williams and Bohn account for 100 of those wins, and getting to bowl with two of the most successful bowlers of all-time is something Boresch and Mohr truly have appreciated this week.
“When I found out I was on a team with Walter Ray Williams Jr., and that Parker and Ron were coming back, too, I knew this would be a really special experience, but nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time,” Boresch said. “I wanted to make sure I was at my best this week, for sure. It has been a huge thrill. I’m just a big kid from Wisconsin living a dream these past few years, and I’m sure it’ll hit me pretty soon. What an unbelievable week with some great people.”
In the four-player Baker format, each player bowls two frames, while the leadoff bowler also takes the ninth frame, and the second bowler handles the anchoring responsibilities.
The qualifying portion of the team event featured six traditional team games, and both Senior Team USA teams were dominant on the way to earning their respective top seeds for the semifinals.
The men finished the six games of qualifying 239 pins ahead of No. 2 Sweden, and the women were almost 200 pins ahead of Australia.
There were 21 complete women’s teams this week in Las Vegas and 38 in the men’s field.
“I’ve been part of this for three years now, and it never gets old,” Team USA assistant coach Bill Spigner said. “The feelings and emotions never change, even with the ups and downs. I couldn’t ask for a better group of players along the way, and this year’s group has been incredible all week.”
The conclusion of team qualifying Sunday also wrapped up the all-events race at the 2019 World Senior Championships.
Senior Team USA’s Hulsenberg earned her second consecutive all-events gold medal at the event with an 18-game total of 3,882, a 215.67 average. Australia’s Baker claimed the silver medal with a 3,709 total, and Sweden’s Susanne Olsson took the bronze with 3,672.
On the men’s side, Norway’s Tore Torgersen started the week with a 248 game, earned the top seed for the singles semifinals and maintained that momentum through 18 games, eventually taking the all-events gold medal with a 4,065 total, a 225.83 average.
Finland’s Koivuniemi, who rolled the week’s only 300, claimed the silver medal with a 4,045 total, and Boresch held on for the bronze medal with 3,947, just three pins ahead of Sweden’s Tomas Leandersson.
All players this week bowled qualifying games in singles, doubles and team (six games each).
The top 24 players in the all-events standings now advance to Masters match play, which will get underway Monday at noon Eastern.
The top eight all-events finishers each will receive a first-round bye, and the No. 9-24 qualifiers will be seeded into a traditional bracket. All matches will feature a best-of-three format, and the eight leaders will be added to the mix starting in Step 2.
Powers (eighth), Johnson (10th) and Sandelin (21st) also qualified for match play in the women’s division. Sandelin finished with a 230 game to guarantee herself another day of bowling.
Germany’s Elke Grawe earned the final spot in the bracket with a 3,414 total, a 189.67 average.
For the men, Senior Team USA’s Mohr (fifth), Bohn (ninth) and Williams (16th) all advanced to the Masters event, where Bohn is the defending champion.
It took a score of 3,706, a 205.89 average, to make the top 24. France’s Pierre-Luc Sanchez and Mario Quintero of Mexico tied for 23rd place to earn the final spots.
The 2019 World Senior Championships began with nearly 260 competitors from 41 countries.
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 were 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.