Verity Crawley of Babson Park, Florida, was able to maintain her lead at the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Queens, a Professional Women's Bowling Association event, and while she didn't bowl as well in Saturday's final qualifying round, she gathered a lot of valuable information.
The collegiate standout averaged more than 235 over 15 games this week at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, and her 3,539 total is the second-highest qualifying score in tournament history. She had blocks of 1,241, 1,215 and 1,083.
The performance earned her the top seed for the double-elimination match-play bracket, and she'll take on No. 64 seed Natalie Cortese of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, in the opening round of three-game matches, beginning Sunday at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Two-time USBC Queens champion and PWBA spokesperson Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, qualified second with a 3,480 total and was followed by Colombia's Rocio Restrepo (3,400), USBC Hall of Famer Kim Kearney of Grand Prairie, Texas (3,378) and Team USA member Brittni Hamilton of Wood Ridge, New Jersey (3,374).
"This feels surreal, and it's something I probably couldn't even dream of," said Crawley, who bowls for Webber International. "I really wasn't trying to think about the standings too much today. I just wanted to watch ball reaction and learn for tomorrow, especially since it's mainly going to be fresh."
The 2015 USBC Queens is being contested on a 42-foot Sport Bowling-certified lane condition, and even though Crawley made a run at the record books for 10 and 15 games, her struggles in the final five games Saturday actually were beneficial.
"I struggled on the fresh today, and it was a combination of bad shots and bad ball reaction," Crawley said. "It definitely was a learning experience about what not to do tomorrow, so that part was good."
Match play at the Queens will continue through Monday, and the event will conclude with the live ESPN2 finals Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern. All match play rounds leading up to the TV show will be broadcast live on Xtra Frame.
More than 200 players bowled 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the 63 bowlers who would join defending champion Maria Jose Rodriguez of Colombia in match play.
Rodriguez posted a 3,167 total during qualifying to earn the No. 35 seed. There was a three-way tie for 62nd place between Cortese, Jackie Carbonetto of Blauvelt, New York, and Puerto Rico's Mariana Ayala with a 3,073 total, a 204 average, and all three advanced to match play.
The player who survives the bracket to win the event will take home $20,000 of the estimated $125,000 prize fund.
The last two Queens champions have been international players, and Crawley is looking to make it three in a row. She is a native of England, while Rodriguez is from Colombia, and 2013 champion, Diana Zavjalova, Crawley's former teammate at Webber, hails from Latvia.
USBC Hall of Famer Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, set the Queens qualifying record with a 3,636 effort at the 2010 event in El Paso, Texas. The 2001 Queens champion still is active and just missed match play this year, finishing tied for 76th place with a 3,053 total.