Hardeman leads qualifying at 2019 USBC Senior Queens


- Laura Hardeman of Chula Vista, California, ascended to the top of the standings to lead qualifying at the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Senior Queens.

Hardeman started her final five-game block Sunday at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino with games of 220 and 238 to surpass USBC Hall of Famer Leanne Hulsenberg of Pleasant View, Utah, and held onto the top spot, finishing with a 3,103 total for 15 games, a 206.87 average.

Hulsenberg finished second with 3,099 and was followed by fellow hall of famers Jeanne Naccarato of Tacoma, Washington, and Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Florida, who finished with 3,061 and 3,026, respectively. Linda Walbaum of Brighton, Colorado, was fifth with 2,976.

Hardeman, who entered Sunday's round in second place, fought through some transition during the middle of the block but made the right ball change in the seventh frame of her final qualifying game to deliver four consecutive strikes to retain the lead.

"It seemed like the ball was reading a lot earlier today," Hardeman said. "I was struggling to get it down the lane, which may have been some fatigue, so I just tried to fill my frames. When it came to the final game, I saw my ball hooking early again and figured I had nothing to lose, so I made the ball change and it looked good."

Hardeman will face Pam Lawrence of Hutto, Texas, in the opening round of double-elimination match play, which starts Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Lawrence secured the final spot in the bracket after posting a 2,749 total.

Hardeman hopes to keep the momentum from qualifying going into match play and plans to stick with the process that helped her pace the 84-player field.

"It's pretty cool (to lead)," Hardeman said. "I've never done that before. I'm going to stick with the same game plan, even though things will be different in match play. I'll see how my body reacts when I start up again and try to stay focused."

All competitors bowled 15 games of qualifying to determine the 31 players joining defending champion Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the bracket.

Johnson, a USBC Hall of Famer, finished qualifying in seventh place with a 2,944 total and will face No. 26 Kristy Whitcher of Belfair, Washington, in Sunday's opening round.

The bracket will feature three-game matches, with total pinfall determining who advances. The five players who make their way through the bracket will advance to the stepladder finals. The tournament features a true double-elimination format, so the No. 1 seed for the stepladder finals would have to lose twice in the championship match.

The stepladder finals will take place Monday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern and be featured live at BowlTV.com. BowlTV is providing wire-to-wire coverage of the 2019 Senior Queens.

The Senior Queens welcomes the top female bowlers age 50 and older. Competitors will be looking to claim the coveted tiara and $8,000 top prize awarded to the champion.