Recently married Bohr and Rodriguez competing at 2019 U.S. Open Article Image
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Soon after their recent wedding, people began asking Maria José Rodriguez and Nathan Bohr what their plans were now that they were married and where they'd spending their honeymoon.

It shouldn't be any surprise to those who truly know them that their first big trip together wouldn't be to a secluded resort or romantic tropical island or that they'd be wearing bowling jerseys instead of bathing suits.

The two wasted no time turning their attention to something they love as much as each other - bowling - and they're having their less-traditional honeymoon this week at Victory Lanes, where they both qualified for the main field of the 2019 U.S. Open.

"I said the other day that this is what we do, it's what we love to do and it's great to get back to it," Bohr said. "The wedding and the planning and the family coordination and the stress is what was different. Being at home that week, that was different. This week is what we do and what our life is, and being married hasn't changed that in any way."

Rodriguez, 30, and Bohr, 39, met in a bowling center a decade ago. They crossed paths in different bowling centers two more times, before the spark between them finally ignited in 2013.

They estimate that bowling now takes them to the lanes or on the road for bowling more than 200 days a year.

Rodriguez is a two-time champion on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour, where Bohr is a representative for one of the bowling ball manufacturers and helps the company's staff members with equipment and lane play.

Bohr also is a standout on the lanes and owns nearly two dozen Professional Bowlers Association regional titles, which earned him induction into the PBA Southwest Regional Hall of Fame in 2015.

"For now, we're very happy doing what we're doing and taking advantage of the opportunities we've been given," Rodriguez said. "People always say time will tell, and we'll see what happens. We love it, and it's the right time in our lives. We do like to get away sometimes, too, and we feel it's a good balance."

While their time away often is low key, like going to trivia night for some laughs and a few beers, spending time cooking out by the pool or bowling in a local league with friends and family, their wedding was the perfect intermingling of their personal and professional lives and their two cultures - Rodriguez hails from Colombia, and Bohr grew up in the Austin (Texas) area.

The pair used the time between the end of the PWBA Tour season and the start of the U.S. Open to host a memorable wedding weekend that was more like a multi-day tailgate or short family vacation than it was a traditional matrimonial experience.

Bohr's family helped secure and transform a rental house that could sleep up to 25 people. The backyard served as the wedding venue. Having them there to assist with the details and preparation, especially during the PWBA season, which lasted from April until September, allowed the couple to really focus on the bowling.

Then, not even some chilly October weather could bring down the mood, once they all were on-site.

MariaNathanForWeb300x169The extravaganza included a Friday night barbeque, a day at a nearby lake and a Saturday night wedding and fiesta in the Texas moonlight. A Sunday brunch gave the newlyweds a final day with their guests, many of whom are fellow bowlers or industry employees.

A food truck conveniently provided the food for their post-wedding celebration and they toasted with beer they had a hand in making, along with aguardiente, the national spirit of Colombia, brought to the wedding by Rodriguez's friends and family.

"People spend a lot of money on a wedding that lasts four or five hours, but we wanted to spend time with our friends for as long as we could," Rodriguez said. "There was enough room at the house for everyone to be comfortable and hang out in different areas, and when the party really got going, we all were able to go outside and enjoy the space."

Now that they've settled into married life and resumed life on the road, Rodriguez and Bohr still say nothing really has changed.

They've spent the last six years learning how the other thinks and operates, especially on the lanes, and they really feel they're in sync. They know they're strengths and weaknesses and how to act or react based on the other person's mood or performance.

That definitely was tested in Wednesday's pre-tournament qualifier at Victory Lanes, where the two were among 66 bowlers competing for 53 available spots in the 144-player U.S. Open field.

Bohr was relatively consistent over the eight games and easily advanced with a 25th-place finish, but he admitted to losing some focus because he knew his wife was struggling and potentially could miss the cut.

After five games below 180, she rallied with a 214, 191 and 207 finish to land just above the cutline in 51st place.

"You could see it in my scores a little, but I also knew after a couple games I'd only have to average about 185 to make the cut," Bohr said. "I had a pit in my stomach that grew bigger and bigger every time I saw her get six. I would throw a shot and then run down to see how she was doing because I really wanted to see her make it. I wasn't completely focused on my bowling for that, but that won't be the case the rest of the week."

Over the years, the two have learned how to compete in the same events while still helping and supporting each other, but to also just be there to watch when one is bowling and the other is not.

During the three days of qualifying at the 2019 U.S. Open, they'll both compete on the same squad, which actually worked out in their favor, since they're staying more than an hour away. It was like an unexpected and coincidental wedding present.

"I almost didn't bowl because it's sometimes hard to bowl against the guys, but the timing was good, and it definitely will help me for the event we have coming up in Kuwait," Rodriguez said. "I'm glad I was able to make it through, and I want to make the most of it. And, we actually think being on the same squad is better, because we have gotten good at feeding off each other, rather than overwhelming the other person with all the things that went right or wrong."

The former collegiate standouts - Rodriguez a national champion at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bohr a national champion at Wichita State - finished their first day of qualifying at the U.S. Open three pins apart (1,517 and 1,520, respectively), and they'll be able to debrief during their drive Friday afternoon.

They'll be back at Victory Lanes on Saturday evening for another eight games, and qualifying will conclude Sunday.

After 24 games, the field will be cut to the top 36 for an eight-game cashers' round, after which, the top 24 will advance to round-robin match play. The 56-game pinfall totals, including bonus pins for each match-play win, will determine the five finalists.

All rounds of qualifying and match play will be broadcast live at and simulcast on FloBowling. The event will conclude live on CBS Sports Network on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The winner will take home the coveted green jacket and $30,000 top prize.

Regardless of how they perform this week, Rodriguez and Bohr will reset and head off together for the next challenge, and they'll enjoy every minute of it.

"There's nothing flashy about what we do, but we love it," they said. "Just give us bowling, Dr. Pepper and a beer at the end of the day, and we're happy."