of Marion, Indiana, has showed consistent improvement during his professional bowling career and entered the 2016 season with a streak of three consecutive years with a Professional Bowlers Association Tour title.
While he may be winless on the PBA Tour this season, he started the calendar year with a memorable milestone as he earned a berth on Team USA for the first time.
The 36-year-old right-hander now will represent the United States at the 2016 Pan American Bowling Confederation Adult Championships, which runs from Sept. 12-23 at Bolera Departamental in Cali, Colombia.
The men will bowl during the first half of the event, with singles getting underway Monday. The tournament also includes doubles, trios and team competition, and medals will be awarded for all-events. The top 16 all-events performers will advance to Masters match play.
“In November, I decided to try out for Team USA because it’s something I’d never done, since I had so much going on with high school and college baseball and then the PBA Tour,” said Russell, who finished eighth at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials and was selected to the team based on his overall performance for the week.
“Bowling always was my passion, but it wasn’t my No. 1 until I was 21 or 22. To bowl in a team event or be part of a team is special, and to be able to bowl for your country is an amazing opportunity.”
Russell does have previous team bowling experience collected during a successful collegiate career at Vincennes University, where he was a first-team All-American, along with recent experience competing in the PBA League.
He also is comfortable on the international stage as a two-time European Bowling Tour champion. His first PBA national title came at the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Munich during the 2012-2013 PBA Tour season.
But, there’s something different about taking the lanes with Team USA across your back.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the team, and it will be stressful out there, but it will be a fun kind of stress,” Russell said. “When you’re bowling with and for a team, the rewards are that much more special, and the pride of being out there representing all of the bowlers at home is hard to describe.”
Joining Russell on the lanes will be an experienced group looking to carry on Team USA’s dominance at the PABCON Championships, which includes winning more than 250 total medals.
The team includes Marshall Kent (left) of Yakima, Washington, John Szczerbinski (right) of North Tonawanda, New York, AJ Chapman of Manchester, Iowa, Rob Gotchall of Clarksville, Tennessee, and longtime Team USA member Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois.
A few members of the team are coming off a successful run at the PBA Fall Swing in the Detroit area. Szczerbinski and Rash both made TV appearances in the special event that featured four tournaments in one exciting week.
The Team USA women will head to Cali next week, with competition getting underway Sept. 19.
The team will include veterans Shannon O’Keefe (left) of O’Fallon, Illinois, and Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, Josie Earnest of Nashville, Tennessee, Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, and Bryanna Cotè (right) of Red Rock, Arizona.
For the 2016 PABCON Adult Championships, USBC Gold coach Bryan O’Keefe will coach Team USA, while PBA champion and longtime Team USA member Chris Barnes will serve as assistant coach for the event.
“I’m definitely a little bit nervous, but I’m also really excited to see what this team can do,” Bryan O’Keefe said. “It’s a nice mix of experienced players and some younger bowlers who have an opportunity to learn a lot and show what they’re capable of on this stage.”
The tournament will feature more than a dozen countries, with more on the line than just gold medals.
The top eight men’s teams and top eight women’s teams will qualify for the combined 2017 World Championships in Kuwait. The top two countries will qualify for the World Games, which is held every fourth year and next will be contested in Wroclaw, Poland, in July 2017.
for more information on the Team USA program.
XVII PABCON Adult Championship to start on Monday
U.S. Teams selected for 2016 PABCON Adult Championships