LAS VEGAS – The trip to Las Vegas for Sharon Powers of Lakewood, Colorado, may have started off slowly, but she has gained nothing but momentum on the lanes and leads after two rounds of qualifying at the 2022 United States Bowling Congress Senior Queens.
The 65-year-old right-hander averaged more than 226 for her 10 games Saturday at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, finishing with a 2,261 total, to lead the 76-player field made up of the top female USBC members age 50 and older.
Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, sits in second place with a 2,230 total, and Linda Walbaum of Brighton, Colorado, is third with 2,207. Canada’s Jill Friis (2,083) and Shirley Stahl of Milwaukee (2,079) round out the top five.
All competitors will return to Gold Coast on Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern for the final five-game qualifying block. After 15 games, the top 32 players will advance to the double-elimination match-play bracket.
After 10 games, Penny Fentiman of Sweet Home, Oregon, is 32nd with a 1,882 total, a 188.2 average.
Defending champion Jeanne Naccarato of Tacoma, Washington, would have been guaranteed a position in the bracket as the defending champion, but the USBC and Professional Women’s Bowling Association Hall of Famer is not competing this week.
Powers’ time in Las Vegas kicked off several days prior to the start of the USBC Senior Queens at the 31st Annual International Golden Ladies Classic, which took place nearby at The Orleans Hotel and Casino from March 13-17.
Her start at The Orleans didn’t go as planned, however, as she faced some struggles during the first two blocks. Powers was able to find her rhythm as the event progressed and eventually secured the top seed for the stepladder in the super senior division.
Though Powers was unable to claim her third title at the International Golden Ladies Classic, falling to Heidi Pagenkopf of Lynnwood, Washington, in the title match, 223-189, she felt the experience helped ease her into Saturday’s rounds on the 41-foot oil pattern at the Senior Queens.
“I did not bowl well during the first day at the Golden Ladies,” said Powers, who captured the senior title at the 2014 Golden Ladies Classic and super senior win in 2018. “But, I just kept trying and plugging away. I think bowling that event helped me feel more relaxed coming here.”
Powers also enjoyed the camaraderie she has shared with the athletes she is crossing with at Gold Coast. She was joined by two competitors from her home state of Colorado – Walbaum and Terri Ward of Loveland – and three-time Senior Queens champion and USBC Hall of Famer Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Florida.
Powers and Sandelin captured team gold medals as part of Senior Team USA at the 2018 PANAM Senior Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and 2019 International Bowling Federation Masters (formerly Senior) World Championships in Las Vegas.
Looking ahead to the final five-game block, Powers isn’t going to get too far ahead of herself. She knows the long journey needed through the bracket to advance to the stepladder finals, after finishing in third place at the 2018 Senior Queens.
“I’m just going to play my game, stay slow and stay down,” Powers said. “I felt like I was really throwing the ball well today, and I’m just going to do what I can. I don’t have to be first. As long as I’m in the top 32, I’m happy, because anything can happen after that.”
Bracket matches will get underway Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern and continue through Monday, until the top five are determined for the stepladder finals. The Senior Queens features a true double-elimination format, so the No. 1 seed for the stepladder would have to lose twice in the championship match.
All bracket matches leading up to the stepladder will be three games, with total pinfall determining who advances.
BowlTV.com is providing livestream coverage of each round of competition. The stepladder finals will take place Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the champion taking home the tiara presented to winner and an $ 8,000 top prize.