When the Team USA women put their team title on the line at the 2017 World Bowling World Championships, they’ll do so on their home soil and with five of the six gold medalists returning.
The event is scheduled for Nov. 24-Dec. 4 at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas.
The United States will be represented by defending world champions Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, Shannon O’Keefe of O’Fallon, Illinois, and Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, and the quintet will be joined by World Championships first-timer Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee.
Team USA won the world title at the 2015 World Bowling Women’s Championships held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Now, all six team members are coming off a successful 2017 campaign on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour, where four earned titles during the 14-event season.
“Being able to represent our country is something we always dream of and look forward to, and to be able to do it on our own turf and as defending champions makes it even more special,” said Pluhowsky, a 17-time Team USA member who will make her sixth appearance at the adult World Championships.
“Things didn’t exactly go as planned last time we were in this position (2013), so everyone is extra motivated. I know we’re all planning to work very hard over the next two months to be as prepared as possible.”
With Pluhowsky’s help in Hong Kong in 2011, the Team USA women ended a 24-year title drought in the team event, but they fell short in their title defense in 2013 when the tournament visited Sunset Station’s Strike Zone Bowling Center in Henderson, Nevada. They earned the silver medal, falling to Korea in the final.
The 2017 World Championships will be a combined men’s and women’s event, which happens every four years.
The 2013 World Championships at Sunset Station also was a combined event. Along with Korea winning the team gold medal on the women’s side, Finland downed Team USA for the men’s title.
Again this year, there will be medals up for grabs in six disciplines – singles, doubles, trios, team, all-events and masters.
Qualifying in singles, doubles, trios and team traditionally consists of six games. The top four then advance to the semifinals, with the winners moving on to gold medal match.
Though Barnes will make her first appearance at the World Championships, she is very familiar with international competition.
The 29-year-old right-hander is a five-time member of Team USA, which came after five appearances on Junior Team USA, and she has earned more than a dozen medals while representing the United States.
“I’ve been around the Team USA program for a long time, and this is something you always hope for but never expect, and I’m very grateful and excited,” said Barnes, also a Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour titlist.
“I’ve always had a lot of goals and things I wanted to achieve, and this definitely is one of them. I don’t really get nervous about a lot of things, but this feels different. I’m a little nervous about the overall experience, but not necessarily about the bowling part.”
Barnes is a frequent world traveler, but having the World Championships back in her home country adds an extra level of comfort for her debut at the event.
“For this being my first time, it might be a good thing that it’s close to home and somewhere familiar and relatively comfortable,” Barnes said. “Of course, I love to travel, but how cool would it be to win a gold medal in our own country?”
The selection of the Team USA representatives came after a recent training camp at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington. The camp allowed the Team USA women to shift gears from the individual environment they experienced on the PWBA Tour to the team cohesiveness necessary for success on the world stage.
They spent the week working on team building and communication, making sure they’re sharp physically and bowling on the oil patterns in the bank of World Bowling lane conditions that has been selected for the 2017 event. The actual pattern will be announced on-site in Las Vegas.
“It quickly became clear how deep the talent is and how sharp everyone is after a successful collegiate or PWBA season,” said Team USA head coach Rod Ross.
“This group of players made a huge statement with the win in 2015, and it will be special for them to defend their title. Josie is an experienced competitor and successful coach, and she’ll be a great addition in 2017.”
The 2017 representatives for the Team USA men will be announced following their training camp in October.
For more information on the World Bowling World Championships, click here.
2017 World Championships moves to Las Vegas