Illinois bowler leads singles at WC

RENO, Nev. - Former collegiate standout Danielle van der Meer of Washington, Ill., found herself back in the spotlight after taking the lead in Division 1 Singles at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships on Saturday.

The 26-year-old right-hander is in Reno for a trio of top-tier events and found success on her first stop, rolling games of 258, 248 and 245 for a 751 series at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Lisa Kelley of Wichita, Kan., previously held the Division 1 Singles lead with 748.

After her strong singles start, van der Meer's doubles partner asked if she wanted to know what the leading score was, but she preferred to focus on her shot making instead. In her final frame, she needed a double and good count to secure the lead, and she delivered.

"I had a really good first game, and my doubles partner Kayla (Johnson) asked if I wanted to know what was leading," said van der Meer, who helped Nebraska capture the 2009 NCAA national championship. "I said no. I was throwing it good, throwing some strikes and that's what I wanted to keep up with. I was just trying to make the best shots I could and didn't worry about the score. But it was nice to come off the lanes and have her tell me that's the lead. That was pretty special."

The 2014 USBC Women's Championships marked van der Meer's first appearance at the event, and she was eager to make her tournament debut.

"I was really excited to bowl," said van der Meer, who added sets of 642 in doubles and 519 in team for a 1,912 all-events total. "I had heard a lot about it and like the fact that you bowl once and that's it, and whoever comes out on top wins. I'm excited that on a stage like this, with many of the best bowlers in the world here for Queens, I was able to put up a score like that."

A quick turnaround Saturday brought van der Meer across town to the National Bowling Stadium, where she now will turn her attention to the USBC Queens, which kicked off Saturday with the first of three qualifying rounds.

As she focuses on making her run towards the coveted Queens tiara, van der Meer still may be on the lanes when the Women's Championships concludes June 30. The stepladder finals of the Queens will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on July 3 at 7 p.m. EDT.

"It would be huge if it held on," said van der Meer, who won two gold medals at the 2006 European Youth Championships and one gold and two bronze medals at the 2006 World Youth Championships for the Dutch national youth team. "I had success in the past when I was younger, but it has been a long time since I felt like I've done something. I've been bowling a lot but haven't matched up to top the field. Our primary goal was bowling the Queens, but it's really nice to have a great event prior to that to boost my confidence."

After the Queens, van der Meer will stay in The Biggest Little City in the World to test her skills at the USBC Open Championships, which also is being held at the NBS. It will be her first appearance at the event, which will conclude its 136-day run July 13.

Bowlers competing in Division 1 have entering averages of 190 and above.

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Women's Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.