BATON ROUGE, La. – The United States Bowling Congress Women’s Championships has returned to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the first time in nearly a quarter century, and the 2017 event opened Sunday at the Raising Cane’s River Center.
The first of nearly 4,500 teams helped kick off the 98th edition of the USBC Women’s Championships, and they got to be part of the official opening ceremony, which was a combination of tournament tradition and local flair.
Those competing Sunday were treated to the ceremonial ribbon-cutting and Mass Ball Shot as well as a welcome to Red Stick from local and bowling dignitaries and Cajun fiddler and heritage preservationist, Ann Vidrine.
Speakers included Visit Baton Rouge President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Arrigo, City of Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Louisiana Office of Tourism Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston and USBC Vice President Cathy DeSocio.
Arrigo, Weston Broome, Edmiston and DeSocio were joined in the ribbon cutting by SportsBR President and CEO Eric Engemann and Raising Cane’s River Center General Manager Michael Day.
This year’s Bowl for the Cure® Fabulous Four essay contest winners helped officially start the 2017 event, as Donna Angstead of Longmont, Colorado, Jackie Cluxton of Manchester, Ohio, Regina Owens of Jacksonville, Florida, and Dawn Paolillo of Staten Island, New York, each rolled out a ceremonial first ball.
The 2017 Women’s Championships marks the event’s second trip to Baton Rouge and third visit to the Pelican State. The 1993 tournament was held in Baton Rouge, while the 1966 edition was contested in nearby New Orleans.
The River Center previously hosted the USBC Open Championships in 2005 and 2012, and the venue once again was transformed into a championship bowling facility, featuring 44 lanes, vendor and office space, a concessions area, locker room and squad room.
The facility recently welcomed the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Louisiana High School Athletic Association Bowling State Championship Tournament, Mayor’s Celebrity Bowling Challenge to Strike Out Hunger, NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship, Intercollegiate Singles Championships and Intercollegiate Team Championships prior to the start of the 79-day Women’s Championships, which will conclude July 10.
The venue also will host the USBC Queens on May 17-23.
On the lanes Sunday, The Rose Buds of Danville, Kentucky, posted the highest set of the day to take the lead in Emerald Team with games of 573, 712 and 676 for a 1,961 total.
Debbie Bugg led the way with a 570 series and was joined by Lee Joslyn (500), Mary Rose (447) and Edna Prall (444).
“We started slow, but you can’t ever give up,” Bugg said. “This venue is so nice, and the hospitality has been great.”
The Emerald Division features four-player teams with combined entering averages of 575-649.
The Women’s Championships includes four average-based divisions in the team event and six for doubles, singles and all-events.
For more information on the Women’s Championships, visit BOWL.com/WomensChamp.
Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Women’s Championships page.