Team USA women headed to Las Vegas for 2019 World Women's Championships

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ARLINGTON, Texas - Five years ago, Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, delivered a forceful fist pump that formally announced her arrival on the international bowling scene.

She was a 20-year-old college student and had just thrown a 10th-frame strike to lock up her first medal as a member of Junior Team USA - a gold medal at a world championship.

Since then, Kuhlkin has been a rising star on Team USA and on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour, but she'll be a rookie again this week when she joins her teammates in Las Vegas for the 2019 World Bowling Women's Championships at the South Point Bowling Plaza from Aug. 23-30.

Kuhlkin and fellow PWBA Tour standout Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan, both have experienced the World Bowling Youth Championships, but they'll debut together at the adult version as part of a talented and experienced Team USA contingent.

The roster also includes longtime Team USA members Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas; Shannon O'Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois; Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California; and Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, who made her first appearance at the event just a few years ago.

They'll be among the nearly 180 competitors, from more than 30 countries, who will compete for medals in singles, doubles, trios, team, all-events and Masters competition.

The final two days of competition, which will include all semifinals and finals, will be broadcast live to a worldwide audience.

"I was pretty surprised to be selected, not because I don't think I'm capable and ready to contribute, but because we have such a talented group of players, of which any six could be ideal selections," said Kuhlkin, a two-time Team USA member. "I am super humbled and grateful to be in this position, and to be able to potentially play a role in Team USA's success is pretty special."

Kuhlkin and Richard both enjoyed successful collegiate careers at Nebraska and Arkansas State, respectively, and have found quick success on the PWBA Tour. Each made their international debuts with adult Team USA at the 2018 Pan American Bowling Confederation Women's Championships in the Dominican Republic.

While the Team USA members have spent nearly five months competing against each other on the PWBA Tour, nothing can transcend the camaraderie and comfort they've found as a group, both on the road and in their Team USA activities.

"The last few months may have been about individual competition, but we're still friends and teammates, and the responsibility that comes with being selected to work together for a week, while representing our country, is something we all take very seriously," Kuhlkin said. "There's nothing like knowing that on every shot, even if you're not firing on all cylinders, there's an amazing group behind you for support or to help get you back on track."

2014WBYCLokkerKuhlkinForWeb637x359When Kuhlkin and Sarah Lokker won the doubles gold medal at the 2014 World Youth Championships in Hong Kong, they were more than 7,000 miles from home, but it's possible Kuhlkin's thunderous reaction was felt back in the United States.

This time, Kuhlkin only will be a few hundred miles from home and is excited to share the World Championships experience with friends, family and an energetic Las Vegas bowling community.

"I have a couple of professional titles, including a major, and a few other memorable wins, but absolutely nothing compares to bowling for your country and standing on that podium as they play the national anthem," said Kuhlkin, who owns two PWBA Tour titles, including her first major victory at the 2018 U.S. Women's Open. "I've experienced that far from home, so it will be different and exciting to have that opportunity on our home turf and surrounded by more friends and family."

The United States will enter the 2019 World Women's Championships as the defending champion in trios (McEwan, O'Keefe and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Kelly Kulick) and all-events (McEwan).

Those victories came at the 2017 World Championships, a combined event - men and women - something that happens every four years. That event also was held at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

The 34 countries scheduled to participate this year in Las Vegas are: Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Competition officially gets underway Saturday, following a formal opening ceremony Friday night. Singles will be the first event.