Nation, Raymond early leaders at USBC Team USA Trials


    Team USA News

    Sunset Station in Las Vegas, Nev., USA (Jan. 13-18, 2008)

    2008TeamUSATrials_small.jpg After expecting to grind it out on what they thought was the most difficult of the four lane conditions, Stefanie Nation of Orlando, Fla., and J.R. Raymond of Lebanon, Mich., were pleasantly surprised to be leading Tuesday at the 2008 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials.

    Nation and Raymond excelled on the Shark lane condition, which at 44 feet is the second longest of the four USBC Sport Bowling patterns being used this week at Sunset Station's Strike Zone Bowling Center.

    With no games under 192 in her nine-game block, Nation totaled 1,890 Tuesday to take the lead in the women's division. Raymond started with 183 and closed with 187 but still managed to shoot 1,989 to lead the men.

    2008TeamUSATTStefanieNation.jpg "My main focus coming in was to keep the ball in play because the Shark pattern was my toughest in practice," said Nation (pictured right), a Team USA member since 2005. "The Shark has always been a tough pattern for me because it's long and forces me to move inside. There really wasn't a lot of room for error today."

    Nation, who leads Brenda Viator of Lake Wales, Fla., by 25 pins, said spares were what catapulted her into the lead.

    "My spare percentage was amazing today, which really kept me in it," Nation said. "I threw a couple doubles here or there, but nothing really too extreme one way or another. I probably only missed two makeable spares the whole day and the rest of my opens were splits."

    2008TeamUSATTJRRaymond.jpg Raymond (pictured left), meanwhile, got off to a shaky start to the tournament, opening with five splits in the first seven frames before making a big move to take the lead.

    "I think I was a little too far left to start, so I moved right into the track area and just made moves after that," said Raymond, who shot 288 his second game. "This was the day I was going to try and grind it out. I thought if I could average 200 it would be pretty good. Finding something that second game was pretty amazing."

    Raymond, who was a second-team All-American at Saginaw Valley State last season, leads Steven Villanueva of North Las Vegas, Nev., by 49 pins, while two-handed lefty Cassidy Schaub of Polk, Ohio, is third, 65 pins off the lead.

    Nation and Raymond both earned $500 prizes for being squad leaders while Viator and Villanueva each pocketed $250 for second place.

    Competition continues Wednesday with the second of four nine-game blocks. After 36 games, the top two men and top two women will automatically earn spots on Team USA. An additional two men and two women from the remaining field will be selected to join the team.


    * The Southern Nevada USBC Bowling Association donated $1,000 to the Team USA program in advance of the Team USA Trials.

    * The players are battling on four different USBC Sport Bowling lane conditions this week. After completing the first block on the Shark pattern, the action moves to the 35-foot "Short" pattern Wednesday. On Thursday, the bowlers will take on the 48-foot "Long" pattern and action wraps up on the 2007 USBC Masters pattern Friday.

    * Derek Eoff of Greenfield, Wis., a Team USA member in 2007, had the high game of the day, finishing Round 1 with a 300 game. Eoff ended with 1,915 in fifth place.

    * Shannon O'Keefe of Brookfield, Wis., who finished third after Tuesday's opening round, decided to compete even though she already secured a spot on Team USA 2008 by virtue of her selection at last year's Team USA Trials. Should O'Keefe finish first or second this week, the next player in the standings will earn the automatic bid.

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