RENO, Nev. - After a strong start at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships, the members of Jungle Kats of Salem, Ore., set their sights on a big final game to reach a personal milestone. Although they fell short of that goal, their 2,928 score was enough to take the lead in Ruby Team at the National Bowling Stadium on Thursday.
Led by Melissa Jungling and first-time USBC Women's Championships participant Laurie Grenya, who tossed matching 555 series, Jungle Kats posted games of 900, 877 and 911 to finish with a 2,688 scratch total. The team entered the event with a combined average of 820 and received an additional 80 pins of handicap per game to reach their final mark. Jungling and Grenya were joined on the lanes by Heather Collee (538), Tammie Gibson (537) and Julie Holden (503). Rodeo Bowl of Ellensburg, Wash., previously held the top spot with 2,872.
By reaching a score of 900 in the first game and nearly matching it in the second, the new leaders were on a mission to achieve a 2,700 scratch score. The bowlers were disappointed to fall just short of their goal but were elated to find out their team effort had them at the top of the standings.
"Our first score was 900, and we finished just below that with 877 in the second game," said Jungling, who made her sixth Women's Championships appearance. "So we were trying to get to the 2,700 mark as a team. We were trying to root each other on to get to that point. We didn't have any idea where we were sitting in terms of placement. It's extremely exciting."
Even though this is the first tournament all five members have made together, they are not strangers to success and have a developed a strong chemistry on the lanes. Jungling, Holden and Gibson have been a part of two team championships at the Oregon State USBC Women's Championship. Jungling and Collee are sisters, who have shared many memories on the lanes, while Grenya made her tournament debut with the group by rolling a set that was 135 pins over her entering average of 140.
The team usually attends the Women's Championships when it's held in The Biggest Little City in the World, but has never seen its name at the top of the leaderboard. The trip is all about having a good time with good friends, but the idea of taking home a title in the world's largest participatory sporting event for women always has been in the back of their minds.
"We've been out to Reno a few times, but we haven't done well in the past," said Jungling, who bowls at Firebird Lanes in Salem. "It's really exciting to overcome those performances. We have fun every single time we're out here, but the goal is ultimately to win. To take first place in a large tournament like this would be our team's biggest accomplishment. I'm pretty sure we'll be checking the standings and keeping our eyes on them through the rest of the event."
Ruby Team includes bowlers with combined averages of 750-899, with handicap based on 100 percent of 900 for the team set.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.