Coté charges to top spot in qualifying at 2022 PWBA Dallas Classic

QUALIFYING: Rd. 1 | Rd. 2

- For the second consecutive year, Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona, has made an early impact at the final Classic Series of the Professional Women's Bowling Association season and leads after qualifying at the PWBA Dallas Classic.

The 2021 PWBA Player of the Year moved to the top of the standings in the second to last game Wednesday at USA Bowl and finished her 12-game block with a 2,590 total, a 215.83 average.

Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, was second with a 2,507 total, and opening-round leader Birgit Noreiks of Germany finished third with 2,502. Colombia's Clara Guerrero (2,472) and Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio (2,448), followed next in the standings.

The top 12 athletes from the 83-player field advanced to match play at the Dallas Classic, which features a pair of six-game match-play rounds that start Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Total pinfall, including bonus pins for wins in match play, will determine the five finalists for Thursday's stepladder finals.

All rounds of competition at the Dallas Classic will be broadcast live at The stepladder will air at 8 p.m. Eastern, and the champion will take home $10,000.

The final qualifying spot went to two-time PWBA Player of the Year Shannon O'Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois. She finished with a 2,418 total, a 201.5 average, to edge Japan's Suzuna Miyagi by a single pin.

The Dallas Classic Series includes the final three events of the 2022 season - Dallas Classic, PWBA Pepsi Classic and PWBA Tour Championship. The Pepsi Classic is taking place Aug. 5-6, and the Tour Championship, the third major of the year, will be Aug. 7-9.

Coté was sixth after Wednesday's opening block with a six-game score of 1,231 but felt like she had left a couple pins behind due to execution on the demanding 36-foot oil pattern.

The three-time PWBA Tour champion regrouped for the second block and stayed on top of her moves, firing a 1,359 total to take over the lead.

"My execution was about 80% during the first block, and I knew I lost some pins on a couple of bad shots," said Coté, who won the PWBA BVL Open in June. "It was a little frustrating, because I saw the picture pretty clearly. It was just a matter of getting it there.

"For my second set, I didn't miss any makeable spares. If I saw my ball do something, I was really on top of the moves. When I got to a pair where it hooked more, I jumped a zone left. If it went too long, I made sure I went farther right or was softer with my hand. I stuck to my game plan, and it worked. I was able to use one ball and as I kept chasing it left, it kept doing the right thing. I just had to execute."

Coté entered this week's Classic Series in third place on the season-long points list, which determines the athlete that earns PWBA Player of the Year honors for the year. She has accumulated 66,415 points and trails O'Keefe (79,250) and Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York (70,835).

McEwan also made match play at the Dallas Classic after finishing qualifying in 10th place with a 2,423 total.

At last year's Fall Classic Series in Reno, Nevada, Coté was outside of the top seven in points heading into the final three events at the National Bowling Stadium. A quick start and runner-up finish at the first tournament - the PWBA Reno Classic - helped push her into the mix for the postseason award.

She earned the top seed and finished second at the 2021 Tour Championship to secure player-of-the-year honors for the first time in her career.

Although there may be some parallels from 2021 to 2022 through the first day of competition, she's not getting too far ahead of herself and plans to keep her focus set on the things she can control.

"I was a little hesitant about this pattern during the practice session, because I didn't have the greatest look," Coté said. "I drilled three balls for this pattern, because I felt like something was missing and I wasn't seeing it clearly in practice. Today, something clicked, and I just went with it. To have a good start is a relief, since playing catch up is not ideal, but it's still a long week. There are a lot of games to be bowled, so I'm just looking to take it one shot and one frame at a time. If I look ahead, bad things can happen."

The Dallas Classic and Pepsi Classic will feature the same format. The finals of the Pepsi Classic also will air on BowlTV. The stepladder will be Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The combined qualifying totals for the Dallas Classic and Pepsi Classic (24 games) will determine the 24 athletes advancing to the Tour Championship.

Pinfall will drop at the beginning of the Tour Championship, with all advancers bowling three eight-game blocks of round-robin match play Sunday and Monday. The top five competitors, based on total pinfall and bonus pins, will advance to Tuesday's stepladder finals.

The finals of the Tour Championship will be broadcast Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network, with the winner earning the $50,000 top prize.