Jeanne Naccarato wins 2019 USBC Senior Queens

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RESULTS

LAS VEGAS
- A year to the day after finishing as the runner-up at the United States Bowling Congress Senior Queens, Jeanne Naccarato of Tacoma, Washington, returned to the title match and came out victorious at the 2019 event.

Naccarato, a USBC Hall of Famer, defeated Australia's Lee Booth, 245-209, to win the title Monday at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino. Naccarato received the coveted tiara and $8,000 top prize awarded to the winner, while Booth received $6,400 for the runner-up finish.

The stepladder finals were broadcast live at BowlTV.com. BowlTV provided wire-to-wire livestream coverage of the 2019 event.

At the 2018 Senior Queens, also held at Gold Coast, Naccarato advanced to the title match but lost to fellow hall of famer Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the finals, 267-191.

This year, Naccarato secured the top seed and left little doubt in the finals, delivering strikes on seven of her first eight deliveries on her way to the title. Booth, who started the championship round with three consecutive strikes, only was able to record one more strike in the game.

Naccarato, a 61-year-old right-hander, moved closer to the outside portion of the lane on this week's 40-foot oil pattern as the rounds of competition continued at Gold Coast, which played into her strengths.

"During qualifying, the lanes were very touchy and the scores reflected that," said Naccarato, who's also a Professional Women's Bowling Association Hall of Fame member. "As the days progressed, the lanes kept getting tighter, so I just kept inching my way out there. In practice, I always try to throw some shots outside, and I thought I may have found something. I found a couple of balls that reacted really well, and I've always been pretty sharp playing outside."

Naccarato, a 10-time champion on the PWBA Tour, had several close calls at the USBC Queens, including four trips to the stepladder finals and a runner-up finish at the 1991 event.

Her win at the 2019 Senior Queens gave her the opportunity to realize one of her dreams.

"This means the world to me," Naccarato said. "I was never able to win the Queens. I finished second, third, fourth, you name it. To be able to win it this week with so many great competitors really means everything."

Naccarato went undefeated in match play to earn the top seed and clinched her spot in the stepladder by defeating Booth, 640-599. With the tournament's true double-elimination format, Booth would have needed to defeat Naccarato twice to claim the title.

Booth bested Laura Hardeman of Chula Vista, California, to move onto the championship round, 201-171. Hardeman was the top qualifier at the 2019 event, averaging more than 206 through Saturday's and Sunday's qualifying rounds.

Hardeman advanced to the semifinals by defeating Johnson, 197-169. Johnson was looking to join fellow hall of famer and three-time Senior Queens champion Robin Romeo of Newhall, California, as the only player to successfully defend a title at the event.

Since 2012, Johnson has advanced to the stepladder finals seven times at the Senior Queens. In addition to her win in 2018, she had four consecutive runner-up finishes from 2013-2016 and a fourth-place finish in 2012.

Hardeman survived a 10th-frame open to win Monday's opening match against Debbie Ayers of La Mesa, California, 182-174. Ayers needed to deliver a double in her final frame to advance but left a 6-10 combination on her first attempt.

A four-player shootout round determined the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds for the stepladder. Johnson paced the group with a 638 series to earn the No. 3 seed. Hardeman was next with 596, while Ayers grabbed the final spot with a 586 total. Linda Walbaum of Brighton, Colorado, was eliminated in sixth place with a 562 series.

The 2019 Senior Queens welcomed 84 of the top female players age 50 and older to Gold Coast this week. All competitors bowled 15 games of qualifying over two days to determine the 31 players joining Johnson in match play.

Bracket play consisted of three-game matches leading up to the stepladder finals, with total pinfall determining who advanced.