WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/RELEASE) The United States Bowling Congress Women’s Championships kicked off its 100th edition Saturday at Northrock Lanes, welcoming the first of more than 4,100 teams to the Air Capital.
The event was ushered in through a ceremonial ribbon cutting featuring local and bowling dignitaries, and Visit Wichita President and CEO Susie Santo delivered a strike on the ceremonial first ball to help encourage the 37 four-player teams competing Saturday to do the same.
The tournament has been slated to make a stop in Wichita for years since the city won the bid to host. More visitors means more dollars from tourists in the city but the tournament itself offers a unique story.
"Normally it is the guys that get all of the recognition but the women actually have a year longer on the men. So it is a big deal for women's bowling-- it is pretty cool."
After the ceremony, several teams in the Ruby Division, which features bowlers with a combined team average of 650-724, made a push in the final frames to take the opening-day lead.
The members of Hawks Nest of Tumwater, Washington, were able to bounce back after some struggles in Game 2 to finish with 822 in the final game to get to the top spot with 2,102, edging Wild Krew 1 of Gilbert, Arizona, which finished with 2,089.
Hawks Nest started with games of 705 and 575 before the strong finish, which was led by Jeanne Reibel-Knesal’s 233 game to finish with a 542 series. She was joined in the team effort by Jost (585), Katie Jo Parker (579) and Sue McRae (396).
“We always have such a good time, and our girls have been coming down to the tournament for years,” said Reibel-Knesal, who made her 15th Women’s Championships appearance. “It was fun to be part of opening day, too, since we have never done that before. It would be phenomenal if our score held on. I think that would definitely be a great moment for us.”
Competition at the 2019 Women’s Championships will resume Sunday and continue until the final ball is rolled June 30. The 2019 event will last for 72 days.
The Women’s Championships will take a hiatus in May to welcome the USBC Queens, the first major championship of the 2019 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour season, to the 48-lane venue from May 15-21. The Queens will conclude May 21 with a live televised broadcast on CBS Sports Network, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern.
More than 16,000 bowlers from around the United States will travel to Wichita for the event.