GREEN BAY, Wis. – More than a decade ago, Clara Guerrero made the move from Colombia to the United States to bowl collegiately and chase her dream of competing on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour.
It took a little longer than expected, but Guerrero accomplished the dream of winning a PWBA title, and a major title at that, with a 199-175 victory over Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, New York, in the final of the Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship on Sunday.
As the No. 3 seed, Guerrero had to win three matches at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to earn the title.
“It feels incredible, it’s just such a dream for my first title to be a major against such amazing competitors,” Guerrero said. “It’s just spectacular. I feel unreal right now.”
She won a collegiate title at Wichita State in 2005, and has won numerous titles internationally, including capturing the QubicaAMF World Cup title the last two years. But a PWBA title was what she always wanted.
“I have won many things with my national team, but this is the main dream,” Guerrero said. “When I moved to the United States 12 years ago and bowled for Wichita State, I did it to get better to bowl on tour, to bowl against the best women in the world. When we didn’t have that opportunity anymore, I competed against the men to stay sharp. Now that we are back, and I can accomplish the dream I always wanted, it’s just incredible.”
In the title match, Guerrero had just one strike in nine frames but converted all of her spares, including a 1-2-7-10, while Liz Johnson had open frames in the third and sixth frames. Needing a mark and six pins in the final frame to clinch the title, Guerrero delivered two strikes.
Guerrero’s semifinal match against Shannon O’Keefe of O’Fallon, Illinois, was decided on the final ball. O’Keefe, who won the Nationwide PWBA Sonoma County Open earlier this season, struck in the ninth, as the 6 pin rolled late to take out the 3 pin, and had the opportunity to shut out Guerrero in the 10th frame by striking on her first two shots.
O’Keefe struck on the first shot, but left the 2-8-10 on the second, picking up the 2-8, to leave the door open for Guerrero.
Needing 20 pins to move to the title match, Guerrero started the final frame with a spare, forcing her to strike on the fill ball. She got the strike and a 226-225 victory.
“I made a move left and it paid off,” Guerrero said. “I’m glad I did it.”
Guerrero advanced to the semifinals with a 237-199 victory over No. 4 seed Stefanie Johnson of Grand Prairie, Texas. After Johnson opened in the sixth after leaving the 1-2-8-10, Guerrero struck on six of seven shots, including the final five, to advance.
At the Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship, competitors bowled 12 games of qualifying on Friday before the field was cut to the top 16 players for match play. On Saturday, the remaining players bowled 16 match-play games that determined the four players for Sunday’s stepladder finals.
GO BOWLING PWBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
At The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley, Green Bay, Wis.
1, Clara Guerrero, Pflugerville, Texas, 662 (three games), $20,000
2, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 175 (1 game), $10,000
3, Shannon O’Keefe, O’Fallon, Illinois, 225 (1 game), $6,000
4, Stefanie Johnson, Grand Prairie, Texas, 199, (1 game), $5,000
Match One – Guerrero def. S. Johnson, 237-199
Semifinal – Guerrero def. O’Keefe, 226-225
Championship – Guerrero def. L. Johnson, 199-175