Colombia dominant in doubles at 2019 World Bowling Women's Championships

BOWL.com Article Image
Results

LAS VEGAS -
After just missing a spot in the singles semifinals at the 2019 World Bowling Women's Championships, Colombia's Maria José Rodriguez earned some redemption Sunday as she teamed with Rocio Restrepo to earn the top seed for the doubles medal round.

The two turned in nearly identical sets of 1,377 and 1,381, respectively, at the South Point Bowling Plaza to claim the top spot with a 2,758 six-game total, a 229.83 team average. They finished with a 448 game to move past Korea's Son Hyerin and Lee Yeonji, who paced the day's opening squad with a 2,729 effort.

A final-frame strike and 3-10 split conversion from Lee helped the Koreans finish two pins ahead of Colombia's Juliana Franco and Clara Guerrero, who earned the No. 3 seed with 2,727. Sweden's Josefin Hermansson and Jenny Wegner posted their score on the first of the two squads and were able to hold on for the final spot in the semifinals with 2,706.

The doubles semifinals and final will take place on Aug. 29 as part of an all-day TV extravaganza that also will include the medal rounds for singles and trios.

Rodriguez and Restrepo will face Hermansson and Wegner, and Son and Lee will meet Franco and Guerrero. The semifinal winners then will bowl for the gold medal, and the losers each will receive bronze medals.

The excitement will be broadcast live to a global television audience.

"Yesterday, I had an idea of what to do and bowled well, but late in the block, I knew I needed to make a change," Rodriguez said. "It was the same thing as two years ago, and I thought about it getting away again, but I was able to step it up and bowl a 240 game. Unfortunately, I just didn't get enough. Today, we were able to grind out the first two games, and then the lanes just opened up for us. We started striking, stayed loose and had a lot of fun. We tried to keep it simple and not overanalyze, and that really seemed to be the key."

Rodriguez admitted to some nerves during singles that always come when representing her country on the lanes, but it's something she expects and usually overcomes as the tournaments go on.

Entering the final frame of singles, she was one of three players fighting for the last semifinal spot, and she simply fell short. Though it was disappointing, it was motivating as well.

She also attributes her success in doubles to getting more comfortable, tweaking her strategy, throwing the ball better and having a talented teammate there with her.

"It's just a different feeling when you bowl doubles, and it helps to have that extra person behind you," said Rodriguez, a two-time winner on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour. "I felt a little weird yesterday, maybe even some nerves that come each time you're out there representing your country, but it didn't affect my performance. I know I just need to make better shots when it matters."

Heading into the semifinals, Rodriguez hopes to capitalize on the opportunity to claim her first gold medal at the World Championships. She previously helped Colombia to bronze medals in the five-player team event in 2011 and 2017.

"I've been close in doubles and singles a couple times and made the medal round in team before, but to win would mean everything," Rodriguez said. "Winning the gold medal is why you bowl for your country. Obviously, it's special to win titles and have individual success, but this is a totally different atmosphere and a whole different meaning. You're not just bowling for yourself. You're bowling for your teammates and family and country and Olympic committee."

Though the members of Team USA didn't make the doubles medal round, finishing seventh (Shannon O'Keefe and Stefanie Johnson), 16th (Danielle McEwan and Missy Parkin) and 32nd (Liz Kuhlkin and Jordan Richard), they did see some overall improvement as a group and picked up valuable information about the venue and 39-foot World Bowling Seoul oil pattern.

O'Keefe posted a 1,363 block in doubles Sunday, and Johnson added 1,278 for a 2,641 total. Parkin (1,312) and McEwan (1,251) had 2,563 and Kuhlkin (1,254) and Richard (1,182) finished with 2,436. 

"It's still just learning and building, which includes gathering information as a team about what works for each of us, potentially eliminating balls or putting something new in play and continuing to work on our communication as a group," said O'Keefe, who qualified for the singles semifinals, along with McEwan. "There's days like today where you can execute well, but it sometimes just doesn't work or go your way. I think we're all throwing the ball well and learning as we work toward the team event later in the week."

The 2019 World Women's Championships includes 176 competitors from 34 countries, who are competing for medals in singles, doubles, trios, team, all-events and Masters competition.

Competition at the Bowling Plaza will resume Monday with trios. The teams will bowl three games at noon Eastern and three games at 5 p.m. EDT, with the top four advancing to the semifinals.

Team USA's trios teams will be Johnson, McEwan and O'Keefe and Kuhlkin, Parkin and Richard.

Las Vegas and South Point last hosted the World Championships in 2017 - a combined event featuring men and women - something that happens every four years.

The 34 countries participating this year are: Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine and Venezuela.

For more information on the 2019 World Women's Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.