Colombian bowler makes history at WC

By Wishelle Banks
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. - Rocio Restrepo of Canton, Ohio, came to Reno to compete at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but her decision to stop at the nearby USBC Women's Championships as a tune-up turned out to be a great one as she made history at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Wednesday.

RestrepoRocio2013LARGEThe 25-year-old right-hander rolled the first perfect game of the 2013 Women's Championships early Wednesday morning and continued to pile on the strikes as she cruised into the Scratch All-Events lead with a 2,274 total, the second-highest nine-game score in 94 years of Women's Championships competition. The effort also helped her into second place in Diamond All-Events. She did not receive any handicap.

Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, previously held the Scratch All-Events lead with 2,150, while Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, owns the all-events record with 2,330, which earned her the 2010 Scratch and Diamond All-Events titles. Christine Gill of Lakewood, Colo., leads Diamond All-Events this year with 2,324.

Restrepo's 300 was the 20th in tournament history and helped her to a 782 doubles series. The Colombian national team member bowled all nine games in one day and added 752 in team and 740 in singles. She is tied for second in Scratch Singles behind Jeanette Adams of Rancho Cordova, Calif., who leads with 748.

"It feels great," said Restrepo, who made her second Women's Championships appearance. "Earlier this year, I shot 300 at a PBA tournament. Today, everything felt really good. To be able to do that at the Women's Championships, especially considering I wasn't even sure if I was going to be able to bowl, means a lot to me. A 300 is never an easy game to shoot, especially in the conditions I have bowled in my entire life. Being able to do it here is just an amazing feeling."

Even as the strikes added up on her way into the record books, Restrepo didn't look too far ahead. She simply made a concerted effort to stay in-the-moment.

"I was actually taking it frame-by-frame, and I was having so much fun with the ladies I was bowling with," said Restrepo, a two-time collegiate national champion at Wichita State University. "I was trying to be as supportive as I could, and I didn't focus on the scores. I didn't want to just get trapped in the scores. I just tried to make good shots, and it just worked out perfectly at the end because I got a few breaks. I didn't really think on my last shot. I just rolled it, and it happened."

Restrepo has been a competitive bowler for more than half her life and has been representing her country on the lanes since she was 14. She has earned dozens of medals in international competition, including a silver medal in singles at the 2003 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Women's Championships when she was just 15 years old.

Although she has proven herself collegiately and internationally, she's now excited for the chance to add a Women's Championships title to her list of accomplishments.

"I hope it holds up, but if not, I just had so much fun," Restrepo said. "I would not change anything about it. It was a little easier to strike in the morning, but in team, I was able to make the right moves and changes. I used all the versatility and the tools I have learned throughout the years, bowling internationally and collegiately, and this year, working with one of the best coaches in the world, (former Team USA head coach) Fred Borden."

Borden has helped Restrepo revamp her game, which included changing her approach from five steps to four. They've also worked on her roll, swing and timing, and while the changes have taken a lot of work to maintain, she hopes they continue to pay off.

She recently returned from a pair of events in her native Colombia, and although she didn't come away as sharp or confident as she'd hoped, she's ready for her week in The Biggest Little City in the World.

One of Restrepo's goals for the week was to bowl as much as possible, and that's relatively easy this year with the Open and Women's Championships in the same host city in the same year for the first time, and a variety of other side tournaments also available to test her skills and progress.

Now, she'll turn her attention to the Open Championships, which is being contested at the National Bowling Stadium.

"Let's hope this year works out," Restrepo said. "I just want to have as much fun as I did today. Just have fun and relax. Last year, I actually came with a really good team. I was bowling with Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, and all the great bowlers. Unfortunately, we couldn't put our scores together. I hope this year, even though I'm the only woman bowling on the team, I hope I can keep positive and just help the guys as much as I can."

Presenting sponsors for the 2013 USBC Women's Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.