ARLINGTON, Texas - Since the relaunch of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour in 2015, watching talented bowlers make the jump from the collegiate to the professional ranks is one of the best parts of following the PWBA Tour.
Tuesday night, the PWBA again will shine light on youthful exuberance when Giselle Poss of Montgomery, Illinois, makes her PWBA TV debut as the No. 2 seed for the stepladder finals of the PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open. The show will air at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
Poss, who became a full-time PWBA member this season after graduating from Vanderbilt, previously tested her skills against the best women in the world at the 2015 and 2016 United States Bowling Congress Queens. In 2015, she made the 64-player match-play bracket and finished 32nd, but missed the cut in 2016.
It was a good introduction to the PWBA for Poss, but it didn’t stop her from struggling during her first three stops as a full-time member. She began her journey during the Midwest swing and failed to cash in the PWBA Wichita Open, Pepsi PWBA Lincoln Open and the PWBA Greater Detroit Open.
After those three stops, Poss assessed her performance and took away some important lessons that would help her in the immediate future.
“I’d bowled the Queens twice prior to these other stops, so I kind of understood the format,” said Poss, who represents Puerto Rico in international competition. “What I didn’t understand was how quickly everything tends to happen. The bad games happen quickly, the good games happen quickly, and, obviously, spares are important, but how truly important spares are. You can make the cut or not make the cut just based on a single pin. I learned that the hard way for the first three.”
Spares would come into play during the most important time of Poss’ young career.
In the final game of match play, the position round, at Seminole Lanes, Poss faced defending champion Rocio Restrepo. With 16 pins separating the players, the winner of the match would receive one of the two automatic spots into the televised finals, which would be taped at Plano Super Bowl in Plano, Texas.
In a close match down the stretch, Poss missed the 2-4-8 combination in the ninth frame, meaning she would need to double and get eight pins in the 10th frame to shut out Restrepo. Poss struck out, and the rest is history. You can relive the match here.
It was a great moment for Poss, who shared her achievement with her parents, Jim and Eileen, who watched the events unfold live. But that moment may not have been possible had Poss not experienced her share of struggles in previous events, which changed the way she approached the PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open.
“I did not bowl well at all during the first three events, and I dug down deep and decided what I wanted out of this,” said Poss, who was a 2017 National Tenpin Coaches Association First-Team All-American. “I made three goals for myself coming into this – to make the cashers’ round, make match play and make the TV show. I took everything one step at a time, and I didn’t say coming into this I want to win. Obviously, everyone wants to win, but you have to do things step-by-step before you get there.”
During Poss’ collegiate career, she had the goal of competing at the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship, which she accomplished several times, and, also to bowl on TV for a national title. This year, Poss and her Vanderbilt teammates just missed the televised finals, finishing third.
It was something that stuck with Poss, as she badly wanted to end her collegiate career with a title shot. Poss immediately added the goal of bowling on national TV at the professional level, which is what helped make her moment at Seminole Lanes extra special.
Vanderbilt assistant coach Josie Barnes, who won the 2016 PWBA Rochester Open, was competing during the same round and finished just in time to watch Poss perform in the final frame after the setback in the ninth.
After coaching Poss for four years and watching her grow as a bowler, she knew Poss was ready when the opportunity presented itself at Seminole Lanes.
“Watching ‘G’ finish the ninth and 10th frames at that event is what you dream about as a coach,” Barnes said. “Our players become our family. I don't have any kids of my own yet, so when these types of moments happen, it's the closest thing I can imagine a parent feeling when their kids achieves their goals. I had tears that I couldn't hold back when she finished the 10th frame. It's one of those moments that I will remember proudly for the rest of my career.
“G's future is extremely bright and one of the biggest reasons to me is she doesn't care who or what anyone else is doing. Her physical game is a gift of power, and she believes every time she gets on the lane she can beat anyone. I think that's as important as anything.”
The final round of the 2017 PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open on Aug. 6 was one of four telecasts that took place at Plano Super Bowl in conjunction with the U.S. Women's Open, the third major of the season.
The U.S. Women's Open show aired live on CBS Sports Network, with Liz Johnson winning the $20,000 top prize and coveted green jacket. It was her sixth career win at the event.
The finals of the 2017 Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network on Aug. 29 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Competition at the PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, a standard event on the PWBA Tour, included two six-game qualifying blocks to determine the 32 players for the six-game cashers' round. The top 12 players then advanced to round-robin match play based in their 18-game pinfall totals.
Qualifying and match-play rounds of PWBA Tour events are broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association.