RENO, Nev. - The members of Junior Team USA Support 1 of Lincoln, Calif., set the early bar at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships as they took the lead in Diamond Team on Saturday.
Junior Team USA Support 1 improved each game at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, rolling scores of 826, 834 and 895 for a 2,555 series. Kristin Warzinski led the way with a 698 set and was joined by Adrianna Tadiello (683), Brandy Sanderson (598) and Kiyoko McDonald (576).
This is the first time in 95 years of USBC Women's Championships history that the event features four-player teams.
"We have two lefties who were able to play off of each other, and the right-handers did the same," said Warzinski, who rolled a perfect game at the 2012 Women's Championships at Reno's National Bowling Stadium. "The lanes were pretty playable, and spares were big for us."
The 2014 event barely is a week into its 81-day run at the RSCC, and some other changes this year include new divisions and the return to an all-scratch format. The members of Junior Team USA Support 1 believe that with four players compared to five, the need for each bowler to have a strong showing becomes more important.
"With four people, you don't have that extra score to help if someone struggles," said Warzinski, who made her eighth tournament appearance. "Everybody has to bring it all at once. That'll be the key."
With their score at the top of the leaderboard, the members of Junior Team USA Support 1 realize it's a long wait until the tournament concludes June 30, but hope they can make a name for themselves on bowling's biggest stage.
"It's early on," Warzinski said. "You can put up your number one day, and someone can beat it the next, but I think getting a title this early in our careers would be amazing. All of the top bowlers have won out here, so to join that list would be incredible. It has always been a goal."
Teams in the Diamond Division are comprised of bowlers with combined averages of 725 and above.
The group returned to the lanes Sunday and again placed their names at the top of the standings.
Sanderson, a 36-year-old left-hander from Bossier City, La., fired games of 228, 225 and 290 during her singles set for a Division 1-leading 743 series.
Sanderson started her day with a 576 set in doubles but made the right equipment choices and began to make better shots down the stretch in singles. She finished with an all-events total of 1,917.
"During the first set, I was all over the place," said Sanderson, who made her second tournament appearance. "I finally settled down and got focused on what I was doing. I made the right ball choices and started to repeat shots. I'm extremely proud and excited, but I know that there are a lot of good bowlers coming up, so I hope it holds."
Warzinski, a 31-year-old right-hander, continued strong after her team event to take the lead in Division 1 All-Events with 1,964. She added sets of 647 in doubles and 619 in singles.
"It goes back to spares," Warzinski said. "I made every makeable spare I had this weekend. I left a 7-10 in each set, unfortunately, but I've been impressed with my spare game lately. For me, that was the key because I have struggled with that before."
The members of Junior Team USA Support 1 will leave with the lead in three events and know they all worked together for that to happen.
"It would be really nice if one of the three would hold," Warzinski said. "It really doesn't matter which one because anything would be a win for the team. We worked at this together, put it together when we needed to, and hopefully, one of them will hold."
The Division 1 Doubles lead also was set during the same squad, as Anita Manns-Arnett of Richmond, Texas, and Mariana Ayala of Bedford, Texas, teamed up to post a 1,252 score.
Ayala, a member of the Puerto Rican national team, led the way with 684, while Manns-Arnett, a former member of Junior Team USA and Team USA, added 568.
Ayala was a last-minute substitute to the group and was happy that the work she has put into her game showed at the RSCC.
"I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to bowl," said Ayala, who made her second tournament appearance. "I jumped in as a sub about a week ago, so I guess it was meant to be. It would mean a lot if our score held up because it would show that all the hard work, practice and changes to my game have paid off."
Ayala and Manns-Arnett were able to find the chemistry they shared while attending Wichita State to help them along the way.
"I just tried to do what I could to help Mariana out because she bowled phenomenally and held me up," said Manns-Arnett, who made her seventh Women's Championships appearance. "We went to the same college, so we already had a bond from that. It would be an amazing honor to win out here."
Division 1 Doubles is made up of pairs with combined averages of 380 and above, while Division 1 Singles and All-Events feature competitors with entering averages of 190 and above.
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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Women's Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.