TORONTO – The United States picked up two medals in the doubles bowling competition at the Pan American Games on Thursday as the Team USA women claimed the silver medal, while the men’s team needed a mark in its final frame to earn the bronze.
Team USA’s Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, New York, and Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, could not catch the steady Colombian team of Clara Guerrero and Rocio Restrepo, who combined for a pinfall total of 5,074 for the 12 games. Johnson and Pluhowsky finished 149 pins back with a 4,925 total, while Venezuela shot 4,819.
“It had its ups and downs again,” Pluhowsky said of the team’s day. “We played the wrong part of the lane too long. The one game where we both shot 180, we were searching.”
Colombia, meanwhile, was steadily increasing its lead.
“They’re great bowlers and they just bowled phenomenal today,” Johnson said. “We started out well … I got caught up staying a little further right than I wanted to and second-guessing myself. Once we moved in, it was a better reaction but we had a lot of holes today.”
Canada sprinted away from the men’s field, posting a 5,607 total to top second-place Colombia by 318 pins. Dan MacLelland shot 815 in the first three games, and Francois Lavoie had the first 300 game in the Pan American Games to lead Canada.
The U.S. duo of Devin Bidwell of Wichita, Kansas, and Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina, who had dropped to fifth after nine games, pulled within three pins of third-place Mexico heading into the final game.
Bidwell rolled a 245 game, but Jones still needed to mark in the final frame, on a pair where he had thrown five splits in the first eight frames. Jones stepped up and buried the first two shots to push Team USA into third with a 5,203 total, 22 pins ahead of Mexico.
“Thanks goodness he bowled 245 last game because I was bowling 150 going into the 10th,” said Jones, who finished with a 164. “I actually asked coach on the fill shot if I could try something different just for my own sanity. This game is very frustrating, and that’s one thing that makes it great.”
Bidwell said winning bronze in his first international competition with Team USA was “oddly satisfying.”
“We didn’t come here for bronze, but that last pair ... I’m glad we got on the podium,” Bidwell said.
For the U.S. women, Johnson had a record-tying 299 game, leaving a 10 pin on her last shot. She tied the mark set by Tennelle Milligan, the Team USA High Performance Manager, at the 2007 Pan American Games.
“I didn’t think it was a bad shot,” Johnson said of her final roll. “I got a little bit in, but that shot I probably got it in the most of the 12 shots. It went kind of flat.”
All four players now turn their attention to singles competition, which starts Friday with 12 games of qualifying. After 12 games, the field will be cut to the top eight bowlers in each division for match play on Saturday. Bowlers will take their pinfall totals into match play, which will consist of one-game matches with the winner receiving 20 bonus pins.
The top four bowlers after match play advance to the semifinals and finals, also on Saturday.
“We’ve seen all the pairs and we’ll just go into tomorrow like it’s a new day just like we always do,” Pluhowsky said. “We have educated guesses now; we didn’t have those before.”