By Fran Piraino
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A year after having corrective surgery, Deatra Tart of Chicago returned to the USBC Women's Championships in top form, and it showed at the Oncenter Convention Center as she and Denise Hill, also of Chicago, moved into the top spot in Ruby Doubles on Saturday.
Tart rolled a season-high 577 series, while Hill added a 529 set for a 1,106 scratch total. An additional 45 pins of handicap per game lifted the right-handers to a 1,241 handicap effort. Marla Maley of Reno, Nev., and Nancy Ferretti of Sparks, Nev., previously held the lead with 1,235.
"We've been bowling these tournaments for some 15 years now, and we've never done anything this great," said Tart, a truck driver for the city of Chicago. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to walk again, so this is a major accomplishment for me."
The 50-year-old Tart, who was hit by a truck five years ago, did not go to the 2010 Women's Championships in El Paso, Texas, last year after undergoing risky surgery to fix two vertebrae, an operation she worried could have left her paralyzed. But Tart recovered from the operation, and the former 180-average-bowler is back up to 163. She rolled a high game of 208 in doubles.
"My average sank to the 150s after the accident," said Tart, who entered the Women's Championships with a 154 average. "I couldn't even do singles for the last four years in tournaments because my body couldn't do it. God Bless Denise. Despite everything, she kept going with me."
The 56-year-old Hill, who has known Tart for 20 years, tried to stay positive during doubles and bowl over her 161 average. She finished with a high game of 187. Ruby Doubles is for bowlers with a combined average of 300 to 359. Handicap is 100 percent of 360.
"Deatra is a cool person, and I wouldn't bowl doubles with any one but her," said Hill, an accounts payable assistant at a law firm. "My goal was not to bowl 114 or 120, which is what I usually bowl in these tournaments."
The duo bowls together at Town Hall Bowl in Cicero, Ill., and they are on pins and needles waiting to see if their score will hold up until the event wraps up July 3.
"I'm over the moon," Hill said. "When you come here and think about all the women who come through to bowl, (winning) is something you would love to do, but you think it's impossible. If we could hold on, that would be great."
Tart is glad to be able to compete at her top form again and happy that she has something to show for her perseverance.
"I've been through a lot to get to this point," Tart said. "With conditions the way they are now, you have to have a lot of wrist, so to think I could be over 50 and still tangle with these younger kids at this tournament is great."
In Diamond All-Events, Julie Lass of Mohave Valley, Ariz., climbed into third place with a 2,223 total Sunday. Elizabeth Hubler-Rike of Grand Rapids, Mich., leads with 2,270.
Lass shot 639 in doubles, 630 in team and 621 in singles for a 1,890 scratch total. She received 37 pins of handicap per game to find her way into the top five.
Sponsors for the 2011 USBC Women's Championships sponsors include Turning Stone Resort and Casino, official brackets sponsor, Humana, official registration sponsor, Miller Lite and Molson Canadian, official beer sponsors. Supporting sponsors include Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, The Oncenter, Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau, Caz Limo & Tours, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, US Steltronic, official scoring system, and Brunswick, official lane provider.