RENO, Nev. – Tuesday’s competition at the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Women’s Championships featured six lead changes in the Diamond Division and three record-setting performances at the National Bowling Stadium.
Colombia’s Maria José Rodriguez and Guatemala’s Sofia Granda combined for the first 1,500-plus doubles score in USBC Women’s Championships history, rolling to a 1,560 total to take the Diamond Doubles lead.
England’s Verity Crawley needed every pin she could get to take the Diamond Singles lead Tuesday, edging Erin Lenahan of Las Vegas by a single pin with a 793 series.
Ashley Crowder of Tamarac, Florida, needed a mark in her final frame to move to the top of the standings in Diamond All-Events with a 2,206 total.
In addition to the lead changes, new records were set for the highest doubles game (565) and highest team game (1,043) in tournament history.
Rodriguez became the ninth bowler in 101 editions of the Women’s Championships to roll an 800 series as she led the way during the doubles effort with games of 245, 279 and 286 for an 810 series. Granda, who made her tournament debut, added games of 225, 269 and 256 for a 750 series.
Lenahan and Christina Kinney of Las Vegas had taken the lead earlier on Tuesday with 1,375. The previous doubles record belonged to USBC Hall of Famers Carolyn Dorin-Ballard and Lynda Barnes, who won the 2004 title with a 1,498 total.
“We bowled OK in team, with Ashley (Crowder) bowling amazing, but we realized we weren’t going to see as much hook like we did in Wichita,” said Rodriguez, who finished second in Diamond All-Events at the 2019 Women’s Championships. “We thought we could make it work and had a game plan. We started striking a lot and made them pretty easy, but it was more about laughing and having fun and enjoying the moment.”
In the final two games of the doubles set, Rodriguez and Granda combined to strike on 38 of their 45 deliveries.
Granda was a late addition to the team, with Rodriguez asking her to bowl after seeing her on the roster for the upcoming USBC Queens.
“I’m excited to be here and so glad Maria invited me to bowl,” Granda said. “We tried to stay relaxed and just make good shots and take it frame by frame. To come out here in my first appearance and break a record and take the lead is like a dream come true.”
Crawley’s run in Diamond Singles started with nine consecutive strikes for 277, and she added 247 and 269 to get to the lead.
The 26-year-old right-hander had the chance to join Rodriguez by stepping up in the 10th frame with a chance at an 800 series, but she left a 10 pin on her second shot.
She needed to convert the spare to get past Lenahan, who found herself in a similar situation during Tuesday’s first squad.
Lenahan rolled back-to-back 268 games and needed a double in her final frame for a chance at 800. After striking on her first delivery, she left a 4-9 split and only was able to get one of the two pins left standing.
Crawley navigated through a couple of different bowling balls heading into singles, and she ended up using a different ball on each lane during the third game.
“I used the (Roto Grip) RST X-1 in singles, which is something I didn’t use in doubles,” said Crawley, who added sets of 653 in doubles and 648 in team for a 2,094 all-events total. “In the last game of doubles, I saw the shape I needed to see and made the ball change to start singles. I felt like I had some miss room and didn’t have to be perfect. Toward the end of the second game, the right lane gave me some trouble, so I made a ball change only on that lane.”
Crawley had her sights set on the 800 series heading into the final frame, and although she didn’t get the honor score, she was happy with her execution in the moment.
She’s been on a strong run since returning to the United States to compete on the PWBA Tour, recording top-12 finishes in each of her three events.
“I’m just so happy and grateful to be here, and so humble to just to be on the lanes,” Crawley said. “I think that mindset is what has made such a difference. I’m seeing ball motion so much better as well, and I’m seeing the picture a lot clearer, which makes the changes a lot easier.”
Crowder’s run in Diamond All-Events occurred on the same pair with Rodriguez and Granda, with Rodriguez also having the chance to take the all-events lead heading into the final frame.
Rodriguez finished first and tied Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, with 2,197. Crowder needed a mark to break the tie at the top of the standings and converted the 3-6 combination and toppled nine pins on her fill ball to claim the top spot.
The 27-year-old right-hander posted sets of 771 in team, 728 in doubles and 707 in singles.
Although Crowder and Rodriguez may have been fighting for the lead, they were working together and communicating as teammates during the week in Reno.
“Maria and I were talking after nearly every shot, on whether we were making good shots or had to move,” Crowder said. “We played very well off each other the past couple of days, and I’m glad it worked out well for each of us.”
Crowder’s final game proved to be a little trickier than she had hoped at the NBS. After starting singles with 258 and 280, she opened two of her first four frames in Game 3 and was unable to deliver a double, finishing with 169.
Even with the struggles in the final game, Crowder was able to focus thanks to some advice from her father.
“I did know what I needed that final game, and the lanes got a little squirrely,” Crowder said. “Maria and I were moving left nearly every shot. In the 10th frame, I threw a good shot and it jumped. I looked up and knew I needed it and got a little nervous, but I just focused on that one shot and was able to do it. That’s something my dad has preached to me since I started bowling. You can only control the ball that’s in your hand, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Crowder became just the seventh bowler in tournament history to eclipse the 2,200 total for all-events, and now she’s ready to see if it’s enough to capture a title at the 2021 event.
“It would mean the world to me,” Crowder said. “I’ve been working really hard, and to be able string some strikes together and get some luck, too, was amazing.”
The record for the highest doubles game fell first Tuesday, as Kristin Nieter of Homewood, Illinois, and Terysa Wojnar of New Lenox, Illinois, broke a three-way tie of 558 by finishing their second game with a 565 total.
Nieter started the game with 11 consecutive strikes, before a 10 pin denied her the first perfect game of the 2021 Women’s Championships. Wojnar added nine strikes of her own on the way to 266.
The pair, which helped Logo Infusion of Oregon, Ohio, win the 2016 Diamond Team title, finished their set with a 1,368 total to move into eighth place in Diamond Doubles. Nieter led the way with a 736 series, and Wojnar added 632.
For the second consecutive day at the Women’s Championships, a team eclipsed the 1,000 mark for a single team game. Husker Shox of Minneapolis put together a 1,043 closing game Tuesday to raise the bar, averaging more than 260 as a team.
The final-game effort was led by Diandra Asbaty’s 277 game, and she was joined by Jessica Abel (262), Emily Fagan (257) and Adrienne Hare (247).
Bowl 2 Win of Mechanicville, New York, was the first team to reach the 1,000 total since the switch from five- to four-player teams in 2014, posting a 1,003 score on the way to taking the Diamond Team lead with 2,809.
Husker Shox rolled games of 839 and 765 before making its record run to finish with 2,647 and move into seventh place.
The Diamond Division features bowlers with entering averages of 175 and above. Diamond Doubles includes pairs with combined entering averages of 350 and above, and Diamond Team features four-player teams with combined entering averages of 665 and above.