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By Emil Williams Jr.
Hello, good people of Earth! I hope all of you are safe in the current state of the world. Since you’re probably still inside your home, I have something for you to do.
If you’ve been following the Ultimate Queens Bracket Challenge, you’re aware it’s time for the 90s bracket, and I’ve been tasked with discussing a little about the champions from 1991-1999.
The first thing that struck me (no pun intended) about this bracket is the amount of supremely dominate athletes who competed during this time on tour. You can’t forget, there also are some exceptional players who could make things interesting in this bracket. Just like the previous brackets (2010s, 2000s) we’ve already covered… it’s a difficult challenge to choose.
Here are the matches you can vote beginning Tuesday by visiting the PWBA’s Twitter, Instagram Story and Facebook Story accounts:
(1) Leanne Hulsenberg (1999) vs. (8) Cindy Coburn-Carroll (1992)
(4) Dede Davidson (1991) vs. (5) Sandra Postma (1995)
(3) Lisa Wagner (1996) vs. (6) Sandra Jo Shiery (1997)
(2) Anne Marie Duggan (1994) vs. (7) Jan Schmidt (1993)
The 90s bracket offers additional intrigue to me because even though all players have won a Queens title, and if you’re simply looking at seeding, you may find a couple of “nightmare matchup.” I would define “nightmare matchup” as any match in which the higher seed faces an opponent that could be seeded higher in a different circumstance.
It’s important to note seeding in this bracket challenge is based on the player’s winning score in their respective Queens title match. Let’s look at how each first round matchup could present challenges for the higher seed.
We begin at the top of the bracket where No. 1 Leanne Hulsenberg, one of the best players of all-time and arguably the best player of the 90s, faces No. 8 Cindy Coburn-Carroll, a 15-time champion on the PWBA Tour. That’s a tough matchup despite the seeding.
When Hulsenberg won her title in 1999, she had to defeat top seed Dede Davidson twice and closed out the win with a very nice 256. The final game of course helped her lock down the top seed. Destiny was on the side of Coburn-Carroll after needing a double and seven in the 10th frame against Dana Miller-Mackie in 1992. There was some good fortune on the side of Coburn-Carroll regarding her final two shots which sealed the title.
Despite a little luck, I’m not sure Hulsenberg would vote to face a champion like Coburn-Carroll in the first round.
Speaking of Davidson, she’s part of an “even” 4/5 matchup with Sandy Postma. Davidson is a nine-time tour champion, while Postma’s resume sits with just one Queens title on her national tour resume. But don’t forget, Postma was the first person to win three USBC Senior Queens titles, which means she’s familiar with the format and understands the big stage.
The same can certainly be said for Davidson, the southpaw, who made two additional Queens telecasts in her career, finishing second and third, respectively. She’s also won a U.S. Women’s Open and Sam’s Town Invitational. What a match.
Another “nightmare matchup” lurks in the 3/6 matchup as 32-time titlist and the PWBA’s all-time winningest player, Lisa Wagner, squares off against 10-time champion Sandra Jo Shiery.
Wagner was the Bowler of the Decade in the 1980s, and had she been in the 80s bracket, you might just crown Wagner now. The real upset is geared toward the fans of the PWBA, considering they only saw Wagner perform on one career Queens telecast. This includes the 80s, when she won 23 titles from 1983-1989. That’s right… 23 titles in seven seasons. Wow!
Despite those accolades, it’s still difficult to lace up against a double-digit title holder, especially one like Shiery in the first round. Ironically, Shiery also is currently up for election in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. The vote is open to the public. Feel free to be part of history and vote for Shiery here.
While it’s difficult to compare her to Wagner, it’s important to remember Shiery had her own consistent streak from 1989 to 1996, winning one title in every season except 1990. That’s a pretty good success rate in any decade, especially the 90s, a decade that saw many of the greatest players we know today perform at the highest levels. Shiery was one of the best, which makes her a “nightmare matchup” for Wagner.
The final match of the bracket sees 15-time champion Anne Marie Duggan as the No. 2 seed versus 1993 Queens champion and long-time “voice of the PWBA” Jan Schmidt.
On paper, some might see a hall of famer in Duggan (PWBA and USBC Hall of Fames) against a hall of fame-type broadcaster and not give a Schmidt a fighting chance. If you are thinking this way, don’t worry, we won’t punish you. It’s a fact Duggan’s bowling damaged some hearts and hurt feelings in the 90s. Here’s some numbers that would support your theory.
Duggan won 13 of her 15 titles during this decade and was another candidate to be named the best of the 90s. The numbers certainly suggested consideration amongst the likes of Hulsenberg, who won 14 titles in the 90s, and Wendy Macpherson, who captured 13 during this time. The latter of which was deemed the best of the decade by Bowlers Journal International.
However, if there was the perfect “Cinderella” story to make a run through a bracket, it would be Schmidt.
She was the Cinderella story in 1993 after earning the top seed for the finals and only needed to win one match to claim the title. In four previous Queens events, Schmidt had never advanced past qualifying, let alone earn the top seed. In 1993, she qualified 54th. She also had not won a match on TV at the time of the show, entering with a record of 0-3.
And, considering I currently serve as the online “voice of the PWBA” on BowlTV, I must give Schmidt an extra point or two for doing the job both on and off the lanes.
We’ve all seen enough bracket upsets to know the potential of one when we see it. Perhaps it’s not a “nightmare matchup” but it certainly exudes upset potential.
Don’t forget voting is available across the following PWBA social channels… Twitter, Instagram Story and Facebook Story.