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Team USA sweeps doubles at 2018 PABCON Women’s Championships


From left: Sydney Brummett & Missy Parkin (silver) – Jordan Richard & Shannon O’Keefe (gold) – Shannon Pluhowsky & Liz Kuhlkin (bronze). Photo: PABCON.

The Team USA women swept the doubles event Wednesday at the 2018 Pan American Bowling Confederation Women’s Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the performance ended up being about more than just the gold, silver and bronze medals.

Along with the unprecedented hardware haul, the effort also earned the teammates a little redemption, a place in PABCON history and some momentum as the coveted team event quickly approaches.

Team USA rookie Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, used the things she learned during a frustrating singles event to rally back with the highest individual set of the day at Sebelen Bowling Center, and she teamed with longtime Team USA member Shannon O’Keefe (featured photo from left to right) of Shiloh, Illinois, to take the gold medal with a 2,780 total.

Richard posted a 1,401 six-game total in the win, while O’Keefe added 1,379. The two finished the block with games of 492, 502 and 499 to set the bar during the first of the day’s two squads.

A few lanes away, Sydney Brummett of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, rolled matching 1,364 sets to settle into second place with 2,728.

Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, and singles bronze medalist Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, used a 534 fourth-game effort on the afternoon squad to catapult themselves to the bronze medal with 2,684. Kuhlkin had 1,359, and Pluhowsky added 1,325.

The doubles medal ceremony will take place Friday, along with the medal presentations for singles and trios.

“I feel so much better than yesterday, and I’m back to just being comfortable and knowing that the one day won’t define me,” said Richard, who improved by 256 pins from singles to doubles. “I was able to learn from it. We gathered a lot of good information yesterday and put it to use today, and I’m excited with how we bowled, especially heading into the rest of the week.”

The medal is Richard’s first in adult international competition, to go along with a pair of medals (silver and bronze) at the 2016 World Bowling Youth Championships as a member of Junior Team USA.

The main difference for Richard from singles to doubles was equipment selection.

The 36-foot World Bowling Stockholm oil pattern being used this week, along with a high-friction lane surface, initially suggested that urethane balls might be the best option. After struggling to find a consistent reaction Tuesday, Richard switched to a more aggressive ball and finished singles with a 246 game. That ball selection and momentum carried into doubles.

The group’s success at Sebelen Bowling Center marked the first time in tournament history a women’s team had won all three doubles medals. The Team USA men are the only other bowlers to accomplish the feat, doing so in 1974.

“The ladies bowled phenomenal today,” Team USA head coach Rod Ross said. “They stayed in the moment the whole way and trusted their shots and execution. The lanes can play a little tricky from pair to pair, but they were able to make the quick adjustments and really use the things we learned yesterday to their advantage.”

Along with the personal turnaround Richard experienced on the lanes, this year’s medal sweep was extra special for the Team USA women, who did not medal in doubles at the 2016 PABCON Adult Championships in Cali, Colombia.

Parkin was on that trip and won singles for one of Team USA’s three gold medals, but the doubles event only yielded finishes of fourth, a tie for fifth and 18th.

“After not medaling in 2016, it definitely is gratifying to not only medal, but to medal gold, silver and bronze this year,” said Parkin, who finished fourth in singles Tuesday. “It’s an amazing redemption.”

This year, it was defending champions Rocio Restrepo and Clara Guerrero of Colombia on the outside looking in, as the pair settled for a fourth-place finish Wednesday with a 2,598 total, 86 pins shy of the medal stand. Restrepo led the effort with a 1,319 set, and Guerrero contributed 1,279.

The field this week features 51 competitors representing nine countries – Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the United States.

Competition continues Thursday with six games of trios, and medals also will be awarded this week in team, all-events and Masters match play. Team USA is the defending champion in the trios event. O’Keefe and Pluhowsky teamed with Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee, to win the title in 2016.

The 2018 PABCON Women’s Championships is being contested on the 36-foot World Bowling Stockholm oil pattern. For more information, or to follow the scores from the PABCON Women’s Championships, click here.

Photo courtesy of Matt Cannizzaro, USBC.

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