SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Danell Ingle of Moore, Okla., has only been bowling competitively since November, so she never planned on competing at the USBC Women's Championships this year.
But her aunt, Katheryn Stites of Wilburton, Okla., the same person who introduced her to the idea of seriously pursuing the sport, also convinced her to test her new bowling skills at the Oncenter Convention Center this week.
The 39-year-old right-hander stepped up to the task, though she really wasn't sure what to expect on the tournament lanes.
"I had no expectations at all, and I am more excited for my aunt, who now has 14 years of championships behind her, because I was able to help her place in the standings," said Ingle, who entered this year's Women's Championships with a 111 average. "I filled in for a member of my aunt's team and really put myself to the test. I thought you had to really be a pro to come to the Women's Championships, but there were a lot of women with the same skills as me. And, no matter what, everyone was having a great time."
Ingle found quick success on the tournament lanes and teamed with Stites for a run at the Sapphire Doubles lead. Ingle led the way with a 491 series, while Stites contributed a 471 set for a 962 scratch total. They received an additional 44 pins handicap per game and finished with a 1,094 total, one pin shy of Maude Chattam and Estelle Dixon of Calhoun, Ga., who lead with 1,095.
Ingle's success didn't stop there. She added 443 in team and 389 in singles, and an additional 39 pins of handicap per game helped her into fourth place in Sapphire All-Events with 1,674. Angel Johnson, of Arden Hills Minn., leads with 1,721.
This week's debut at the Women's Championships also marked the first time Ingle has competed in any tournament. It took her a while to catch on to what the separate divisions meant, but observing before competing helped her understand the event and the process.
Ingle may not have known what to expect, but she followed her aunt's advice, offered after multiple years of participation, and kept her ears and eyes open and her mouth shut, she says.
"My mother and sister and I were going to be part of the entourage from Oklahoma to cheer my aunt on, but about a week away from Syracuse, they asked me to sub," Ingle said. "I had been a basketball player, but was sidelined by a knee injury. I was always fond of sports, and bowling was a part of some of our family fun and activities over the years."
The Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center librarian first bowled in the early 1990s while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Being able to bowl while on base was one of the perks she enjoyed.
Now, Ingle also bowls with the VA Medical Center team in Moore, which is comprised of a combination of veterans and staff.
"I really liked taking part in this, my first Women's Championships," Ingle said. "I plan to be in Reno next year, not just as a family spectator, but also as at least a sub."
The Sapphire Division is for bowlers with averages of 149 and below, and handicap is 100 percent of 150. Doubles teams must have combined averages of 299 and below, with handicap being 100 percent of 300.
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.