Team semifinalists set at 2017 World Bowling Championships


In a matter of a few minutes Saturday at the 2017 World Bowling Championships, the members of Team USA, their coaches and supporters experienced an indescribable range of emotions from tearful satisfaction to tears of heartbreak.

On the low side of the 60-lane South Point Bowling Plaza, the Team USA men got a clutch finish from World Championships first-timers Chris Via and AJ Johnson to solidify their place in the team semifinals, while Johnson locked up the all-events bronze medal.

The men's and women's team semifinals will take place Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern as part of two days of live coverage on the Olympic Channel. The format now shifts from traditional team games to best-of-three Baker matches, where each player bowls just two frames each game.

Sunday's coverage will begin with the trios semifinals, starting at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

Shortly after the high-fives and hugs for the men's team, the Team USA women, the defending champions in the team event, were on the high side of the facility wrapping up an exciting five-team race for four spots in Sunday's semifinals that did not end in their favor.

Singapore and Malaysia both bowled well enough in the finale to guarantee their spots in the semifinals, and Colombia used a big finish to jump into third place.

None of the Team USA women were able to strike to start the final frame, and that opened the door for Korea to hang onto the final spot. Anchor Jung Dawun, a doubles gold medalist earlier this week, spared a single pin in the 10th frame and struck on her fill ball to put Korea two pins ahead of the defending champions.

A silver lining for the United States women was Danielle McEwan earning the all-events gold medal, her second individual medal in two trips to the adult World Championships.

"It was an up and down day, it was an exciting day and it was close on both sides all day," Team USA head coach Rod Ross said. "We got some breaks, and we had some breaks go against us. It was sweet to get the men in, but obviously a disappointing ending for the women. We saw some teams on the women's side have a huge day today, but our team performed well, and I'm extremely proud of what they did. But, when it came down to it, we were just a few pins short."

The Team USA men entered the day in fourth place and rolled games of 1,120, 1,045 and 989 to hold onto the fourth position with a 6,204 six-game total. They'll now face Colombia, which topped the leaderboard with a 6,246 total, a 208.2 average.

The other men's semifinal will feature No. 2 Denmark (6,225) against No. 3 Chinese Taipei (6,207), and the two semifinal winners will bowl for the gold medal. Semifinal losers each will receive bronze medals.

Chris Barnes, who teamed with Tommy Jones for the doubles gold medal Tuesday, led the way for Team USA in the team event with a 1,377 total. He was followed by Johnson (1,290), Jones (1,209) and Marshall Kent (1,132). Jakob Butturff, also a first-time participant, bowled the first day of the team event, shooting 571, while Via stepped in on Day 2 and added a 625 set, including a 238 finish.

"Ultimately, we're happy that we're in the medal round, and other than confidence-wise, it doesn't matter if you're first or fourth at this point," said Barnes, a two-time team gold medalist at the World Championships (2008, 2010). "Our best look happens to be on the fresh, and we had a better strategy for Game 1 today, which played out pretty well. It ended up being our best game of the tournament as a team, and I'm sure we'll employ some version of that tomorrow."

Heading into the final game on the women's side, Team USA was in second place, 55 pins behind Singapore and 28 pins ahead of fifth place Colombia.

Singapore catapulted into the top spot with a 1,230 effort in the second game Saturday and closed with 1,132 to earn the top seed with a 6,325 six-game total. Malaysia finished with 1,092 to earn the second seed with 6,227, and Colombia's 1,057 finish was good for a 6,167 total and third place overall.

Korea, the team champion in 2013 and silver medalist in 2015, finished with 6,140, while the United States posted a 6,138 effort.

Singapore will meet Korea in one semifinal, and Malaysia will take on Colombia in the other.

McEwanDanielleForWebWorld250x140McEwan was the top performer for the Team USA women in the team event, finishing with a 1,309 total, and she was followed by Kelly Kulick (1,250), Josie Barnes (1,249), Stefanie Johnson (1,194) and Shannon O'Keefe (1,136). Shannon Pluhowsky did not bowl with the team for the team event, but did complete the six games for her all-events standing. She had 1,082.

McEwan, Kulick and O'Keefe did advance to the trios semifinal as the top seed, and they will face Indonesia's Putty Armein, Sharon Limansantoso and Tannya Roumimper. The other semifinal will be Germany against Chinese Taipei.

All of the competitors bowled 24 games at the Bowling Plaza, six games in each event (singles, doubles, trios and team), and total pinfall determined the all-events medalists (gold, silver and bronze) in each division.

McEwan held off all challengers with a 236 finish Saturday and earned the gold medal with a 5,126 total, a 213.58 average.

Malaysia's Siti Rahman, the first Malaysian player to win a Professional Women's Bowling Association title, claimed the all-events silver medal with a 5,048 total, and Tsai Hsin-Yi of Chinese Taipei was the bronze medalist with 5,017.

"The all-events doesn't get the recognition it deserves, but Danielle was the best of the best in the world, and that's amazing," Ross said. "She bowled incredible all week, and she won the tournament. It's probably not something she's thinking about right now, but it's definitely very special."

The men's all-events gold medal went to Chinese Taipei's Wu Hao-Ming, who started the event with the tournament's only perfect game and averaged more than 217 on the way to a 5,221 total.

Finland's Petteri Salonen earned the silver medal with a 5,151 total, and Johnson earned his first international medal with a 5,134 total, a 213.92 mark.2017WorldsAJJohnsonForWeb250x140

"The all-events medal is great, but it's just a bonus," Johnson said. "I haven't really paid attention to any of the scores or individual scores. My main goal coming into this week was to get into the semifinals for the team event. Our confidence level as a team is really high right now, and we feel like we can make shots when we need to, so we're looking forward to tomorrow."

The top 24 men and top 24 women in the all-events standings now advance to Masters match play Monday. It took an average of 206.08 to make the cut on the men's side and 202.5 for the women.

Team USA's Barnes and Jones also advanced, finishing tied for 11th and tied for 20th, respectively. Kent finished 46th, Butturff was 59th and Via was tied for 61st place.

McEwan will be joined in Masters match play by Kulick (eighth) and Barnes (24th). Johnson finished 28th, O'Keefe was 78th and Pluhowsky was 84th.

The 2017 World Championships will run until Monday. The final two days of competition will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel to a worldwide audience.

This year's tournament is a combined men's and women's event, which happens every four years. The 2013 World Championships at nearby Sunset Station in Henderson, Nevada, also was a combined event.

The field includes 213 men from 36 countries and 176 women from 30 countries.

Countries participating this year in Las Vegas include: Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.

For more information on the 2017 World Championships, visit