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U.S. contingent ready for 2017 World Senior Championships

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Being a senior bowler in 2017 couldn’t be any more different than how seniors generally are portrayed in movies and on television, and eight bowlers from the United States are ready to show the world just how competitive they can be when they take the lanes for the 2017 World Bowling Senior Championships.

Anyone who has turned on BowlTV or Xtra Frame in recent months already knows how busy the group has been, competing weekly in Professional Bowlers Association 50 Tour or Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour events.

The men’s contingent includes United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famers Parker Bohn III of Jackson, New Jersey, and Lennie Boresch Jr. (left) of Kenosha, Wisconsin, along with fellow PBA50 Tour standouts Bob Learn Jr. (right) of Erie, Pennsylvania, and Ron Mohr of North Las Vegas, Nevada.

The women’s team consists of a quartet of USBC Hall of Famers – Lynda Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, Leanne Hulsenberg of Pleasant View, Utah, and Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Individually, they are sharp and confident after a summer of reps and success on the lanes, and it now is time to come together for collective success at the 2017 World Bowling Senior Championships near Munich, which gets underway Tuesday.

The event, last held in Las Vegas in 2015, will take place through Aug. 20 at Dream Bowl Palace in the Munich-area suburb of Unterföhring.

The 2017 World Senior Championships will feature competitors from more than 40 countries and include medal opportunities in team, doubles, singles, all-events and masters competition.

The United States swept the men’s and women’s team gold medals at the 2015 tournament and momentum will be a prevalent theme when the team members arrive in Germany.

Bohn’s summer has included watching his son, Brandon, pick up a win in the 12-and-under division at the 2017 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International, while simultaneously helping his wife, Leslie, coach their USA Bowling team to a TV appearance in the 15-and-under division of the USA Bowling National Championships presented by Sixlets, airing on CBS Sports Network on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Bohn (left) may not have been throwing the ball for those events, but it helped motivate him when it was his turn to take the lanes.

He then turned in a dominating performance to a win the PBA50 Dave Small’s Championship Lanes Classic presented by Roto Grip, his first PBA50 Tour title of the season and fourth of his career.

Now, the 54-year-old left-hander is ready for his debut with USA across his back, and his teammates, all three of whom were on the gold-medal-winning team in 2015, are excited to have such a talented rookie join them.

“I think all of us are as close to being on our A-games as we can be, and the success we’ve had over the last few months has us seeing the lanes very well,” said Bohn, a 35-time PBA Tour champion.

“This opportunity really does mean a lot to us, and we want to make our country proud. Knowing that I can put on the red, white and blue and represent the United States is an honor, and I hope I can help bring home more gold medals.”

Mohr (right) also is coming off a couple of exciting wins.

He ended a five-year title drought by winning the PBA50 South Shore Open at Olympia Lanes in Hammond, Indiana, for his ninth career PBA50 Tour. Earlier in the summer, he won the Super Senior Classic, the premier USBC event for bowlers age 60 and older.

“There’s some great talent across the world, and I think we’ll have our work cut out for us, but I really like the team we’re fielding and know we’ll be competitive,” said Mohr, who also enjoyed international success as a member of Team USA in 1989, 1991 and 1998.

“I believe we’ve all been doing the right things to prepare and stay at the top level competitively. I don’t think we could be in a better place individually, and now it’s time to put it all together.”

On the women’s side, all four team members have been regular competitors on the PWBA Tour, which has included 13 events from California to Florida.

They’ve covered a lot miles and bowled hundreds of games, each enjoying stints of success, and the variety of lane conditions and formats definitely has them feeling conditioned and prepared.

For all four, the PWBA season ended with the recent U.S. Women’s Open, an event known to test competitors, both mentally and physically, over 56 games, for those who advance through each round.

Hulsenberg (left; Tish Johnson, right), who won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011 at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, turned in the best performance of the group again this year, advancing to the 24-player match-play portion of the event, before finishing 14th overall.

“I definitely feel like I’m in bowling shape, especially after making the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open and getting a lot of games in,” Hulsenberg said.

“I think I’ve held my own this summer against some great competition, and I hope to take that good feel overseas. As a group, I know we’re all ready competively and in a great competitive mindset. We’re going to gel well, and after so many individual events lately, we’re looking forward to bowling as a team and representing our country with pride.”

The group from the United States will be led by USBC Hall of Famer and Gold coach Bill Spigner of Vernon Hills, Illinois, who is one of seven coaches recently added to the Team USA coaching staff. He is accomplished on the lanes as a competitor and has been on the Bowlers Journal International Top 100 Coaches list since 2006.

The inaugural World Senior Championships was contested in 2013, also in Las Vegas, and the event is held every two years.

The Team USA program performed well at the last edition in 2015, leading the medal count with 14 of the 38 medals. That included sweeping the team titles and adding gold medals in women’s doubles (Lucy Sandelin and Paula Vidad) and women’s all-events (Sandelin).

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Author: Herbert Bickel
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