CALI, Colombia – It didn’t take long for the Team USA men to erase the deficit they found themselves in after the first day of team competition at the 2016 Pan American Bowling Confederation Adult Championships, and they rallied late in their final game Friday to hold off Canada and secure the gold medal.
Team USA entered the second half of the team event 68 pins behind but whittled away at that number with a 1,180 opening game Friday at Bolera Departamental. The group then surged into the lead with a 1,177 effort, while Canada only managed games of 1,141 and 1,093.
The final game saw the Canadians with the overall advantage six frames in, but the United States figured out a way to strike on the challenging right lane, before four of the five players doubled in the 10th frame to seal the victory.
Team USA, which last won the team title in Las Vegas in 2012, finished with a 1,088 game and 6,817 six-game total. Canada closed with 1,104 for a 6,778 total, and Colombia, the defending champion in the team event, claimed the bronze medal with a 6,556 effort.
“The guys didn’t need any motivation after yesterday because they simply don’t like to lose,” Team USA coach Bryan O’Keefe said. “It was just about strategy for us today. We actually did the same thing we did yesterday, but things went our way a little more today, especially at the end.”
Ronnie Russell set the pace for the United States with a six-game total of 1,429 and was joined by Marshall Kent (1,418), John Szczerbinski (1,363), Sean Rash (1,281), Rob Gotchall (689) and AJ Chapman (637).
As the week at Bolera Departamental went on and more players were added to each lane during competition, from two in singles and doubles to three in trios and five in team, the 44-foot London oil pattern broke down differently. Figuring that out was a key to Team USA’s success down the stretch.
“The second game today was pretty important, and we were able to get past the things that slowed us down earlier,” O’Keefe said. “The friction got to be too defined with the extra bowlers, compared to early in the week, so changing launch angles and going a little more up the lane paid off.”
The all-events medalists also were determined Friday based on their 24-game pinfall totals (six games of singles, doubles, trios and team).
Canada’s Zach Wilkins averaged more than 235 to earn the all-events gold medal with a 5,644 total, while Russell claimed silver with 5,605 and Wilkins’ teammate, Mitch Hup‚, secured the bronze medal with a 5,548 effort. Team USA’s Kent missed an all-events medal by 12 pins.
“I’ve been struggling as of late, so for me to come here and bowl well with, and for my team, means a lot,” said Russell, who rolled one of five perfect games this week at Bolera Departamental. “Bowling well individually was great, but the team event is what we came here for. To win gold and get redemption for last year is incredible.”
The top 16 bowlers in the all-events standings advanced to Saturday’s best-of-three match-play Masters bracket. Action will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern. It took an average of 216.79 over 24 games to make the cut.
Along with Russell and Kent, Team USA will be represented in Masters competition by Szczerbinski, who finished fifth, Chapman (ninth) and Rash (12th). Gotchall finished 17th, missing the cut by 16 pins.
The trios and team medal ceremonies will take place at Bolera Departamental on Saturday afternoon before the Masters semifinals.
The 2016 PABCON Adult Championships includes more than a dozen countries, with more on the line than just gold medals.
The top eight men’s teams and top eight women’s teams will qualify for the combined 2017 World Championships in Kuwait. This will be determined by a combined total pinfall from the following categories in each division – top four singles scores, top two doubles scores, top trios set and pinfall in team competition.
The top two countries will qualify for the World Games, which is held every fourth year and next will be contested in Wroclaw, Poland, in July 2017. This will be a combined pinfall total for the top two men and top two women for each country during the 24 games at the PABCON event.
The United States, Venezuela and Colombia previously qualified for the 2017 World Games through the PABCON Champion of Champions event in Mexico last April.
The women hit the lanes at Bolera Departamental starting Monday.
Visit BOWL.com/TeamUSA for more information on the Team USA program.
For complete scores from the PABCON Adult Championships, visit Pabcon.org.
2016 PABCON ADULT CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Bolera Departamental, Cali, Colombia
*First three games took place Thursday
GOLD – United States (John Szczerbinski, AJ Chapman, Rob Gotchall, Sean Rash, Marshall Kent, Ronnie Russell), 6,817
SILVER – Canada (Zach Wilkins, Travis Cauley, Mitch Hupé, Francois Lavoie, David Simard), 6,778
BRONZE – Colombia (Jaime Gonzalez, Manuel Otalora, Andres Gomez, Santiago Mejia, Carlos Tobon, Oscar Rodriguez), 6,556
GOLD – Zach Wilkins, Canada, 5,644
SILVER – Ronnie Russell, United States, 5,605
BRONZE – Mitch Hupé, Canada, 5,548