TORONTO – Team USA’s Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, captured the gold medal in women’s singles, and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, New York, and Devin Bidwell of Wichita, Kansas, each earned bronze in the final bowling event of the Pan American Games on Saturday.
Pluhowsky topped Aumi Guerra of the Dominican Republic in the title match, 223-212, to earn her second Pan American Games singles title. She also won the title at the 2003 event.
“Just be able to pull it together … I didn’t bowl great all week, I had my ups and downs,” Pluhowsky said. “I kind of figured it out in position round, I was going to throw the same ball on both lanes. And it worked.”
Pluhowsky started Saturday’s match play in fifth, but had games of 224, 206 and 225 to quickly move into second behind Johnson, and the U.S. teammates would hold those spots to reach the semifinals.
“That was the goal, to be 1-2 or 1-3 so didn’t have to bowl each other in the semifinals,” Pluhowsky said. “We’re very good friends and I was excited to come here with her. To come here with one of your friends, be able to win a medal, and represent our country, it was awesome.”
Bidwell, competing in his first international competition for Team USA, finished third in qualifying and faced eventual singles champion Marcelo Suartz of Brazil in the semifinals. Bidwell fought back after open frames in the fourth and fifth, but couldn’t catch Suartz, falling 202-182.
“I was busy trying to breathe,” Bidwell said about closing the gap late in the match. “That was a good match and taught me something. This whole week has been humbling. I expected it to be, and it was a lot cooler than I expected. It was cool to have the opportunity and to have a couple of good days of bowling. I hope there are more events like this I can have an opportunity to compete in.”
Pluhowsky reached the title match with a 214-212 victory over Colombia’s Rocio Restrepo. In the other semifinal, Johnson missed a 10 pin in the first frame, had a split in the third and could not catch Guerra, who would win 258-181.
“I was fortunate to still be in the lead (after match play),” Johnson said. “I popped a couple of decent games at the end to stay in first. With the top-four bracket … you never know. I didn’t make the shots I wanted to during the match. It’s tough when you start with a missed 10 pin.”
The men’s top qualifier also was knocked out in the semifinal round. Canada’s Dan MacLelland fell to Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli, 187-178. Suartz would top Monacelli, the 53-year-old USBC Hall of Famer, 201-189, in the title match.
Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina, fought through a tight back issue all day and gave himself a shot at reaching the semifinals by closing with games of 235 and 246. But Monacelli had games of 226 and 218 to keep Jones out of the semifinal round by 10 pins.
“Amleto bowled a good game the last game,” Jones said. “The split he made, you make two out of a hundred. That’s why he’s a hall of famer.”
Team USA has won 21 of a possible 32 gold medals, seven silver medals and six bronze medals in bowling in Pan American Games history.