LAS VEGAS - Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, had been waiting two years to make her debut at the United States Bowling Congress Senior Queens by the time she laced up for the first day of the 2022 event, and she capped a dominating performance by claiming the title Monday at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.
Woessner recorded the win with an exciting 238-223 victory over USBC Hall of Famer Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Florida, to collect the tiara awarded to the champion and $8,000 top prize. Sandelin earned $6,000 for the runner-up finish.
All rounds of competition from the Gold Coast Bowling Center were broadcast live at BowlTV.com.
As the only undefeated player from the tournament's double-elimination bracket, Woessner earned the top seed for the stepladder and would've had to lose twice in the finals to be denied the title.
The back-and-forth championship match included four strikes in the first five frames for both competitors, but Sandelin benefited from crossover strikes in the second and fourth frames on the right lane.
The three-time USBC Senior Queens champion made the adjustment to get to the pocket in the sixth frame, but she left a 5-7 split she was unable to convert, giving the advantage to Woessner.
Sandelin bounced back with three consecutive strikes after the split, but Woessner stepped up in the ninth frame with the chance to lock her out after rolling six strikes in her first eight frames.
A 2 pin in the ninth from Woessner meant Sandelin would have the chance to win the first game, but three strikes in the 10th from Woessner forced Sandelin to record two strikes and four pins to extend the championship to a second game.
Sandelin left a 4 pin on her first delivery to seal the victory for the 52-year-old right-hander.
"I put it all out there," said Woessner, a three-time winner of the Ohio State USBC Queens. "I did what I needed to do to force her to double, but I fully expected her to do so because she's an amazing bowler. This win means a ton. I am very proud of what I fought through to execute."
Woessner averaged more than 225 over 31 games through qualifying, match play and the stepladder on the event's 41-foot oil pattern, and she had been on top of her moves during the entire week at Gold Coast.
In the title match, she elected to use a different bowling ball on each lane, which allowed her to attack both lanes in the same area.
She had bowled on the same pair against Sandelin in the match to determine the top seed earlier Monday and had seen early hook on the left lane. She earned the No. 1 seed with a 698-586 win.
"I saw how they broke down in that match, and the left lane ended up hooking really early," Woessner said. "I figured with all the bowling on that pair (in the stepladder), I needed to throw something cleaner on that lane. When I tried the same ball on the right lane, it didn't pick up as much, so I used a different ball to be able to stand in the same place. I felt like that was the thing to do from what I saw."
Woessner was eligible to compete in the 2020 Senior Queens, an event for the top female USBC members age 50 and older, but her first appearance had to wait until this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 editions.
"It's a long time coming," Woessner said. "I didn't want to get ahead of myself by saying I lost out on my first two years of being able to compete and have to make the most of this one. I didn't want to put any extra pressure on myself, either. In practice, I felt like I had a good look, so it all kind of started clicking. I think I did a really good job of controlling my heart rate and breathing, and I was able to make it happen."
Sandelin was looking for a record-breaking fourth Senior Queens title. She previously had captured wins at the 2007, 2013 and 2017 events, and her win in 2017 tied her with fellow USBC Hall of Famers Sandra Postma and Robin Romeo with three victories at the tournament.
She earned a return trip to the title match after making a late ball change in her semifinal victory over April Lord-Wittig of Steilacoom, Washington.
Sandelin was clean through the first six frames, but she had not recorded a double. She switched to a different ball in the seventh frame, resulting in three consecutive strikes to take the lead. A nine-count on her first delivery in the 10th frame secured the win, 218-198.
Lord-Wittig advanced to the semifinals with a 192-161 win over 2018 champion Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Lord-Wittig avoided trouble on the way to the victory over the USBC and Professional Women's Bowling Association Hall of Famer, who opened four times in the first eight frames.
In the first match of Monday's stepladder, Lord-Wittig started with four consecutive strikes on her way to a 213-189 win over Ann Coleman of Fairborn, Ohio.
All competitors at the 2022 Senior Queens bowled 15 games of qualifying over two days to determine the top 32 players advancing to the bracket. Defending champion Jeanne Naccarato of Tacoma, Washington, would have been guaranteed a position in the bracket but did not compete in this year's event.
Advancers bowled match play Sunday and Monday to determine the five athletes for the stepladder finals. All bracket matches leading up to the stepladder were three games, with total pinfall determining who advances.
The final three earned their way into the finals by battling through the Elimination Bracket and then surviving a four-bowler, three-game shootout Monday. The top three advanced to the stepladder and were ranked based on their series totals.
Johnson earned the No. 3 seed with a 684 set, while Coleman and Lord-Wittig advanced to the first match of the stepladder with totals of 607 and 572, respectively.
Carmen Aguilar of St. Petersburg, Florida, was fourth in the shootout with a 561 series and was eliminated, finishing in sixth place.