Perfect game helps Missouri bowler to lead, Midwest pair takes lead at Women's Championships

By Christian Seaborn
USBC Communications

- An exciting day on the lanes Friday at the 100th edition of the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships resulted in the fifth perfect game of the 2019 event and lead changes in Ruby All-Events and Topaz Doubles.

Brenda Clifford of Kahoka, Missouri, rolled the first 300 game of her career to kick off her doubles set at Northrock Lanes, and she ended up needing every pin to claim the Ruby All-Events lead by a single pin with a 1,837 total.

Mary Sawyer of Burr Oak, Kansas, and Teah Colvin of Riverton, Nebraska, joined in the fun Friday, pairing up to take the lead in Topaz Doubles with an 874 combined total.

Apryl Sneed of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, led Ruby All-Events with 1,836, while Linda Hartman and April Smith of Sayre, Oklahoma, previously led Topaz Doubles with 854.

Clifford's perfect game helped her to a 742 total in doubles, which included games of 196 and 246 after her 300 game, and she added 581 in team and 514 in singles to take the lead.

The doubles effort also moved Clifford and Billie Barnes-Wheeler of Phoenix into second place in Sapphire Doubles with 1,098. Rosie Martinez and Sheri Sexton of Bloomfield, New Mexico, lead Sapphire Doubles with 1,099.

Clifford's big day nearly was derailed on both the 11th and 12th shots of her 300, as the 7 pin dramatically fell late on each delivery.

"I couldn't believe it," Clifford said. "It just sort of rocked back and forth before falling over. On the last ball, I felt confident I could do it, and there was that silly 7 pin wavering again."

In addition to the support from her doubles partner, Clifford also was able to share the moment with her husband, Jason, and son, Justin. She credits them as her sources of support and inspiration on the lanes.

As far as her success at Northrock Lanes, she credits her repeatability on the way to her memorable day.

"I just found my mark, hit it and followed through," said Clifford, who made her third USBC Women's Championships appearance.

Clifford became just the 32nd bowler in tournament history to achieve the feat, and the experience will be something she won't soon forget.

"It was just an awesome experience," Clifford said. "Not just because of the scores, but because it's the 100th edition of the tournament. That, coupled with my family being here, makes this really special. It's just an amazing experience and will be a time at Nationals that I will never forget."

Ruby All-Events includes bowlers with entering averages of 175-189, while Sapphire Doubles features bowlers with combined entering averages of 290-319.

06142019-SAWYER-COLVIN_637Colvin led the doubles effort on the way to the lead Friday, rolling games of 157, 185 and 139 for a 481 series, while Sawyer added games of 162, 120 and 111 for 393.

The duo was surprised to find that their effort had helped them to the top of the standings, and they credit the lane surface in their performance.

"It is shocking and very surprising," Sawyer said. "We usually bowl on wooden lanes back home, so that made a huge difference. But, there was more of a hometown feel to the whole tournament. It was a nice choice for the 100th edition."

The connection between Colvin and Sawyer dates back, as both Colvin's mother and grandmother previously had teamed with Sawyer. Their appearance Friday marked the first time they had bowled together, though.

"It was nice to do this," said Colvin, who also moved into second place in Topaz All-Events with a 1,360 total. "This was our first year together as a team. I am looking forward to doing this again with Mary next year in Las Vegas."

Colvin added sets of 466 in singles and 413 in team to make her move toward the top of the standings in all-events. Chris Lafko of Simi Valley, California, leads Topaz All-Events with 1,425.

Sawyer had sets of 443 in singles and 411 in team for a 1,247 all-events total.

Topaz Doubles includes bowlers with combined entering averages of 259 and below.

Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Women's Championships page.