By Wendy Clem and Aaron Smith
RENO, Nev. - Sharon Aronson of Turlock, Calif., and Tammy Lewis of San Jose, Calif., have worked well together on the lanes for the past 10 years, and that chemistry paid off at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships as they made their way to the top of the Scratch All-Events and Scratch Singles standings at the National Bowling Stadium on Saturday.
Aronson, a California USBC Association Hall of Famer, had 761 in singles, 721 in doubles and 685 in team for a 2,167 scratch all-events total. She received an additional nine pins of handicap per game and also made a run at the lead in Diamond All-Events, but came up just short, settling into second place with 2,248. Jennifer Asplin of Oakley, Calif., previously held the lead in Scratch All-Events with 2,121, while Andee Tadiello of Brentwood, Calif., tops Diamond All-Events with 2,257.
As a three-time Western Women's Professional Bowlers Association Bowler of the Year and the 1998 California State USBC Queens champion, Aronson is no stranger to success, but attributes her performance to some equipment changes and good communication with her fellow bowlers and supporters. She's also tied for fifth in Diamond Singles (788) and fifth in Diamond Doubles with Amie Silveira of Riverbank, Calif. (1,441).
"I re-engineered my grip before I came up here and talked to a few people about some new equipment, so that helped," said Aronson, a 52-year-old right-hander who made her 12th USBC Women's Championships appearance. "What also helped is the fact that I bowled with some great ladies who played the lanes the same, so we tried to create a shot and were able to accomplish that. It was nice to have my husband and several other individuals in the back help us make the right moves as well."
Lewis, a 40-year-old right-hander, competed on the same pair of lanes as Aronson. She started singles with games of 223 and 258 but saved her best for last and closed with 297 for a 778 singles set. Only a 4-6-7 split on her final shot kept her from the first 300 of the 2012 event and 16th in 93 years of Women's Championships competition. Judy Gurney of Omaha, Neb., previously held the top spot in Scratch Singles with 741.
With 33 perfect games already under her belt, Lewis was in familiar territory as the crowd at the Stadium focused on her final delivery. Although her bid for perfection fell short, she knows what a Women's Championships title would mean to her bowling career.
"I felt confident and had the drive, but mostly I was determined not to leave another 10 pin," said Lewis, who made her third Women's Championships appearance and also used her 778 singles set to move into eighth place in Diamond Singles. "I left about 15 of them the day before. Holding onto this title would be huge. You don't expect things like this."
Lewis added 634 in doubles and 609 in team to finish with a 2,021 all-events score, which is good for 10th in Scratch All-Events. She did not receive any handicap.
Earlier on Saturday, Dianne Kost of Aurora, Colo., jumped to the top of the leaderboard in Ruby All-Events with a 1,942 handicap total.
Kost rolled a 670 series in singles, 633 in doubles and 549 in team to finish with a scratch total of 1,852. She received an additional 10 pins of handicap per game to reach her leading score. Her singles performance also helped her into second place in Ruby Singles with 700. Karla Alsgood of Rio Linda, Calif., previously held the Ruby All-Events lead with 1,925, while Edna Rilloraza of Beaverton, Ore., is the Ruby Singles leader with 728.
Kost, a 45-year-old project coordinator for Janus Capital Group, made her 10th appearance at the Women's Championships. She usually is more focused on seeing friends than scores, which includes a group of 10 bowlers who hail from California and Colorado.
She credits a recent improvement in her game to advice she received from teammates and fellow league bowlers. It resulted in her only having to use one ball this weekend, although she brought several to The Biggest Little City in the World.
"I wipe off my ball in between shots, and that small thing has slowed me down enough to relax and throw better balls," said Kost, who bowls league at AMF Aurora. "And, I have begun reaching out, which puts my arm straighter and helps me to connect better with the headpin."
The Diamond Division is made up of bowlers with averages of 180 and higher, with handicap based on 220. The Ruby Division includes bowlers with averages between 150 and 179, with handicap based on 100 percent of 180.
The top scratch score in team, doubles, singles and all-events is recognized as overall tournament champion.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.