EL PASO, Texas - Bowlers Choice Pro Shop of Tonawanda, N.Y., had the highest team total in the 91-year history of the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships on Wednesday night, coming out on top after a three-team shootout for the record.
The team, which featured defending USBC Queens champion Liz Johnson, fired games of 1,160, 1,085 and 1,179 to finish with a 3,424 series, surpassing Together Once Again of North Richland Hills, Texas, record-setting score of 3,350 shot in 2006. Bohn Zone Chicks of Jackson, N.J., previously held the scratch team lead this year with 3,191, shot Tuesday night.
Bowlers Choice Pro Shop received an additional 12 pins of handicap to finish with a 3,436 total, which also leads the Diamond Division. RTG Medical of Fremont, Neb., previously held the lead at 3,305.
Nikki Lunsford led the record performance with a 717 series, and was joined by Michelle Sterner (702), three-time Women's Championships titlist Johnson (690), 2007 Classic Division doubles champion Sue Jeziorski (665) and Sue Nawojski (650).
As the strikes continued to fill the scoreboards at the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center, Bowlers Choice Pro Shop's crossing team, Great Balls of Fire of Peekskill, N.Y., kept pace to finish with the second highest team score in the event's history with 3,351. Kay Roush led the effort with a 730 series, and was joined by Aumi Guerra (728), Helen Waite (655), Shiela Allen (646) and Sandra Maresca (592).
The pair to the left of Bowlers Choice Pro Shop and Great Balls of Fire featured BowlersMAP of Grand Prairie, Texas, which ended with the fourth highest score in tournament history at 3,339.
Five-time Women's Championships titlist and USBC Hall of Famer Leanne Hulsenberg led the squad with a 746 total, and competed alongside Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky (719), USBC Hall of Famer Kim Terrell-Kearney (699), Women's Championships titlist Sandra Terrell (614) and Laura Moriarty (561).
After four second places at the Women's Championships over the years, the members of Bowlers Choice Pro Shop saw all of their hard work on and off the lanes result in a record-breaking performance.
"I'm still in disbelief," said Jeziorski, who bowls regularly at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, N.Y. "We've been working for this for 15 years, so to post the highest score in tournament history is pretty exciting."
Bowlers Choice Pro Shop and Great Balls of Fire nearly found themselves deadlocked after the second game, but the teams appreciated the competition for the top spot and applauded each others efforts as they made their way toward history.
"After the second game, we were pretty much even," Jeziorski said. "We had given some pins away, but couldn't go back. We knew we had to go out and shoot a big game. We bowled with a great crossing team, though. We were rooting for each other, not against. There was camaraderie and support for everyone."
Jeziorski credited their familiarity as the key asset to their success. Four of the five members of Bowlers Choice Pro Shop, along with Waite and Allen, had just finished bowling their state tournament a week prior to competing at the Women's Championships.
With their name in the record books, the members of Bowlers Choice Pro Shop can only wait and hope their score holds on until the tournament concludes on July 4.
"All we can do now is hope that no one beats us," Jeziorski said. "It's an honor to put our names alongside some of the greatest women bowlers in the history of the sport."
Teams in the Diamond Division have combined averages of 900 and above, with handicap based off of 100 percent of 1,100.
PAST CHAMPION TAKES OVER ALL-EVENTS LEAD
Kari Watson of Kettering, Ohio knows what it takes to win at the USBC Women's Championships, and put herself in that position again on Wednesday evening as she shot the highest scratch all-events score of the 2010 event.
The 39-year-old right-hander used sets of 722 in singles, 707 in doubles and 670 in team to finish with an all-events total of 2,099. Michelle Sterner of Niagara Falls, N.Y., previously lead with 2,052. Watson and Sterner share the scratch singles lead at 722.
Watson is the 1993 Classic Division singles champion and a member of the 2008 Classic Division team champion. She credited working with her teammates as the group had to manage going from a fresh pair in doubles and the pair that Bowlers Choice Pro Shop bowled on a shift earlier.
"We really had to work together to watch our ball reaction," Watson said. "By bowling doubles on the fresh, I had to use a ball with more surface, but then switched to a pair that had some games on it. I just made sure not to lose the pocket and tried to stay clean."
She hopes to add a third title to her mantle, but was happy by posting a solid performance overall on the tournament lanes.
"There are still a lot of great bowlers who haven't bowled yet, so I'm not going to hold my breath," Watson said. "It's nice to have a good showing, though. I'm very happy, especially after struggling last year."
Receiving an additional 27 pins of handicap for all-events, Watson is currently sitting in second place in the Diamond Division with 2,126. Jennifer Duffer of Panama City, Fla., is leading with a handicap total of 2,128.
The Diamond Division is made up of bowlers with averages of 180 and above, with handicap based off of 100 percent of 220.
CALIFORNIA DUO TAKES DIAMOND, SCRATCH DOUBLES LEAD
Laurie Soto of Castaic, Calif., and Paula Vidad of Sun City, Calif., took the lead in the scratch and Diamond Division doubles Wednesday evening with a 1,380 total.
The pair nearly rolled identical sets, with Vidad bowling a 691 series and Soto right behind at 689. With both of their entering averages above 220, the duo didn't receive any additional handicap, but their scratch score was enough to take over the Diamond Division doubles lead. Sandra Maresca of Mamaroneck, N.Y., and Kay Roush previously held both the scratch and Diamond Division doubles lead with 1,327 and 1,375, respectively.
Soto and Vidad have known each other for 26 years, and have had previous success on the lanes as doubles partners. They have three California state doubles titles to their credit.
"We communicate well," Soto said. "We just try to help each other make the correct moves as the lanes transition."
Diamond Division doubles teams have combined averages of 360 and above, with handicap based off of 100 percent of 440.
Presenting sponsors for the 2010 USBC Women's Championships are Nationwide Insurance; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; US Steltronic, official scoring system; Brunswick; Storm Bowling Products Inc.; and the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau.