Diamond, Sapphire Divisions with new leaders at 2019 USBC Women's Championships

By Aaron Smith and Katie Smith
USBC Communications

- Bowlers competing at Northrock Lanes continue to produce high scores this week at the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships as four new leaders claimed their spot at the top of the standings along with the third perfect game of the 2019 event.

In the Diamond Division, USBC Hall of Famer Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, finished Tuesday's excitement at the top of the all-events standings with a 2,211 total, while recent collegiate standouts Lauren Pate of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and Jordan Newham of Aurora, Illinois, took over the doubles lead with 1,417.

In the Sapphire Division, Kellie Bowes of Eagan, Minnesota, edged her way into the top spot in all-events by a single pin with 1,630, and the mother-and-daughter pair of Tiffany and Brittany Friars of Greencastle, Indiana, took over the doubles lead with 1,090.

Kaidee Sutphin of Maitland, Florida, became the third bowler in two days to roll a 300 game at Northrock Lanes as she kicked off her singles set with 12 consecutive strikes on the way to a 694 series.

Diamond All-Events features bowlers with entering averages of 190 and above, while Diamond Doubles includes bowlers with combined entering averages of 380 and above. Sapphire All-Events includes bowlers with averages of 145-159, and Sapphire Doubles consists of bowlers with combined entering averages of 290-319.

Kulick, who was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame earlier this month, was the fourth player to take the lead in Diamond All-Events on Tuesday and rolled sets of 775 in doubles, 737 in singles and 699 in team to post her highest all-events total in 20 appearances at the Women's Championships.

Other bowlers holding the lead Tuesday included Colombia's Maria José Rodriguez (2,196), Karsyn Lukosius of Brick, New Jersey (2,127), and Amanda Vermilyea of Apply Valley, Minnesota (2,116). Katie Thornton of Savannah, Georgia, started the day in first place with 2,098 and now sits in fifth place.

Kulick's on-lane accolades speak for themselves, with wins on the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) and Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tours and dozens of medals accrued through her time on Team USA.

One of the few events she had yet to break through at for a victory, though, is the Women's Championships.

"It's eluded me so far," said Kulick, the 2007 and 2010 USBC Queens champion. "Last night, I heard everybody get announced for their titles at this event, and I'm still looking for one. This event is very special because everybody bowls it, and it would be great to associate my name with all the other champions at the 100th edition of this event."

Kulick became just the sixth player in event's storied history to surpass 2,200 for a nine-game total, and she minimized her mistakes with just two open frames.

"I really paid attention to my equipment selection yesterday," Kulick said. "There were two less people on the pair from team, so the breakdown was not as quick. I was able to learn what my transitions were and capitalized on what I did last night and took it into today. I probably left 30 pins out there from two or three poorly executed shots, but it was a striking event. You had to have your striking shoes on, and I'm just glad I wore the same pair two days in a row."

051419JordanNewhamLaurenPate_637Fans of collegiate bowling have grown accustomed to watching Pate and Newham compete against each other the last four years at McKendree and Vanderbilt, respectively, but they worked together Tuesday while performing in the final frame to take the lead.

Pate delivered a double in the 10th, while Newham converted a 4 pin to push the pair past the 1,411 score posted just minutes before by Jessica Aiezza of Mechanicville, New York, and Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York. Wichita's Ricki Ellison and Georgia Drewes previously led with 1,385.

Pate led the overall effort with games of 221, 264 and 289 for a 774 series, and Newham bounced back after a 179 start to finish with 246 and 218 for 643. Both players were making their Women's Championships debut this week in Wichita.

"It's really awesome getting to bowl with Jordan," said Pate, who helped McKendree win the 2017 Intercollegiate Team Championships and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women's Bowling Championship titles. "Bowling against her has always been an adventure, but we were able to come together when we needed it. I had great ball reaction, and she made a ball change and was able to get to where I was at on the lane and demolished them the last two games. If we're able to win the doubles title in our first time bowling this event, it would really be icing on the cake."

Both Pate and Newham recently graduated from their respective universities, and the pair of 22-year-old right-handers relied on their experiences gained from their time as student-athletes to get to the top of the leaderboard.

"I figured we were going to have a pretty good shot at bowling well since our look yesterday on the fresh was really good," said Newham, who helped the Commodores claim the 2018 NCAA title and recently finished as the runner-up at the Intercollegiate Singles Championships. "Lauren had a phenomenal look, but I struggled a little bit the first game. Once I got the right ball in my hand and started throwing it better, it was a really good time."

051419KellieBowes_637Bowes rolled the highest series and all-events total in her 24-year Women's Championships career to sneak past Dawne Byers of Bella Vista, Arkansas, who rolled 1,629 earlier in May.

The 53-year-old right-hander rolled 579 in singles, which also helped her into third place in Sapphire Singles, and added 532 in team and 519 in doubles. Glenyce Klaers of St. Michael, Minnesota, leads Sapphire Singles with 579.

After an open in the eighth frame, Bowes rolled back-to-back strikes to put herself in position to take the lead. A 2-4-5 combination on her second shot of the 10th pushed her into a tie, and she was able to topple an additional pin to take the lead.

Bowes' has been performing well in tournaments this year after a strong performance at her state tournament, and she attributes that to staying positive and fine-tuning her line and technique.

"It's been a really good year," Bowes said. "I've been able to find a line and hold it, and I've been bowling really well. I've been taking a few extra seconds to make sure my technique is where I want it to be before releasing the ball, and it's proven to be great in the last month."

While the technique is important to success, Bowes also noted that getting to bowl with her friends assists with her positivity on the lanes.

"I'm proud of the way I've been bowling," Bowes said. "I know my friends are very supportive and happy. I just can't keep this smile off my face. This has just been a really great experience. The camaraderie of bowling is really just amazing."

Friars_637The Friars bowled Sunday and used consistent sets to cruise into the top spot in Sapphire Doubles. Tiffany rolled games of 188, 195 and 169 for a 552 series, and Brittany added 183, 150 and 205 for 538.

Carol O'Neil and Nancy Gensemer of Bozeman, Montana, previously led with 1,039.

Mother's Day served as their first time bowling together at the Women's Championships, and they credited their success to their focus on the lanes.

"This is the first time we've bowled together at Nationals in doubles," said Tiffany, who made her second tournament appearance. "Staying in time and going slower on the release helped. Also, just knowing when to make small adjustments as needed."

Getting to share the day together on the lanes served as a special moment for both Tiffany and Brittany, and winning a gemstone trophy would make it even sweeter.

"If the score held and we became national champions, it would be unbelievable," Tiffany said. "For us to bowl together on Mother's Day would just make it more special."

051419KaideeSutphin_637Sutphin rolled the 30th perfect game in tournament history after finding some favorable ball reaction at Northrock Lanes which allowed her to play to her strengths.

"I actually haven't been bowling much, so I didn't really have any expectations for the tournament other than to have some fun with the group of girls I bowl with," said Sutphin, who finished her set with games of 204 and 190. "But, at the end of doubles, I saw a shape that I liked and was able to throw my favorite ball, so things kind of aligned. I was able to play in my comfort zone and create some room to miss.

"The first shot in the 10th was great, the second shot was OK and the third shot was questionable. I definitely got lucky on that one, but I'm happy I did."

She was excited to add her name to the record books, but, most importantly, was excited to share the moment with her teammates.

"It's always special to shoot 300, but to do it with this group of girls and in such a big event makes it even more special," said Sutphin, who made her fifth tournament appearance and added sets of 632 in doubles and 542 in team for a 1,868 all-events total. "Knowing there have only been 30 of them in 100 years makes it really amazing."

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