Illinois team takes Diamond lead at WC

RENO, Nev. -
A last-minute decision to compete at the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships may earn the members of Fox Bowl of West Chicago, Ill., a Diamond Team championship and a spot in the record books.

Since they were in town to bowl in the USBC Open Championships, where they already have combined for 12 years of participation, they decided to take advantage of having both tournaments in the same host city in the same year for the first time and made their way over to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

Four of the five team members competed in the Women's Championships for the first time, with Samantha Fatheree as the veteran of the group with 13 tournament appearances.

Fox Bowl rolled games of 1,059, 955 and 1,076 for a 3,090 scratch effort Monday and received an additional 153 pins of handicap per game to finish with a 3,549 total. Defending Diamond Team champion Some Strike It Hot of Albuquerque, N.M., previously held the lead with 3,451.

Jennifer Belter led the way for Fox Bowl with a 684 series and was joined on the championship lanes by Pam Salvesen (639), Jill Salvesen (617), Anne Hjelmberg (603) and Fatheree (547). Their handicap total is the highest since handicap was introduced at the 2010 Women's Championships in El Paso, Texas.

"Three of the five of us usually bowl the Open with our men's group," Fatheree said. "Jenny was coming with us this year, and we were able to get Anne as our fifth. We all bowl at Fox Bowl and kind of just threw it together at the last minute."

As the strikes began to add up at the RSCC, they knew they were bowling well, but didn't realize they quickly were climbing their way toward the top of the leaderboard. After calculating the handicap, the team huddled by the on-site leaderboard and checked to see if they had made their mark on the storied event.

"We knew we were bowling well, but we didn't have any idea we were going to take the lead," Fatheree said. "We weren't sure of our handicap, so we calculated it at the end and parked ourselves in front of the leaderboard waiting for it to come up. We were looking at, too. We feel pretty good about it, but I think most of us are still in shock."

With all of their hard work and preparation paying off, the teammates now will wait for the final team squads June 30 to see if they can claim their places in history.

"We've been practicing on the Open condition for the past several weeks, so we had a look for it there," Fatheree said. "All the ladies were bowling great, and we had a lot of support from the guys we bowl with as well. This has been unbelievably special for us. We were able to put it together, and we're extremely pleased."

Diamond Team includes teams with combined averages of 900 and above, and handicap is 100 percent of 1,100.

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