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By Aaron Smith
We’re back in the bracket to complete Round 2! The left side of the bracket had our best voter turnout yet earlier this week, and we hope to keep it going on the right side.
The matches to finish Round 2 include:
Leanne Hulsenberg (1999) vs. Dede Davidson (1991)
Lisa Wagner (1996) vs. Anne Marie Duggan (1994)
Aleta Sill (1983, 1985) vs. Donna Adamek (1979, 1980)
Patty Ann (1990) vs. Carol Gianotti (1989)
Remember to vote for the winners of each match on the PWBA’s Twitter, Facebook Story and Instagram Story!
My last blog entry in this series looked at the phenomenal runs of Aleta Sill and Donna Adamek at the Queens, and now, they’re matched up. How about that?
Today, we’re going to look at Lisa Wagner’s win at the 1996 event in Buffalo. As Emil Williams Jr. mentioned in his blog, Wagner is the PWBA’s all-time wins leader (32) but managed to make the championship round only once at the Queens. To be fair, that’s all she needed.
With fields of more than 400 participants fairly common in the 1990s, it was tough just to make the cut to match play. Enter the tournament’s famed double-elimination bracket, it becomes just as tricky. Not only do you need to bowl well, but you need to catch a few favorable matches along the way.
That’s still the same today. Looking back at the 2018 Queens, Sweden’s Ida Andersson shot 751 and lost in the opening round to 2009 and 2015 champion Liz Johnson (770). During the same round, 2011 winner Missy Parkin advanced shooting 559 against 2014 champion Maria José Rodriguez. More than 210 pins separated their three-game totals, but the only thing that mattered was each was 1-0. See? Tricky.
Wagner, a PWBA and USBC Hall of Famer who was in search of her 30th title, was able to navigate the bracket at Thruway Lanes on the way to the fourth seed.
After recording steady wins over Diana Teeters (202-165), fellow hall of famer Jeanne Naccarato (214-195) and amateur Sandra Ranallo (216-194), Wagner had made her way to top seed Tammy Turner.
Before we get to the details of the match, let me say this. There isn’t a single player from this era that’s more fun to watch bowl than Tammy Turner. You can argue with me all day if you’d like. I’m not changing my answer.
There’s a certain fluidity to her high-rev game that’s just so … wow. Every time I go back to watch an early show from her time on Team USA or her stretch in the middle of the 1990s, it’s just always … wow.
Back surgery in 1997 arguably altered what her true prime could have looked like, but Turner came back in 2009 to claim the U.S. Women’s Open title.
Turner showed off her high-rev style as she started the title match, playing a generous step or two to the left of where Wagner had carved out her path to the pocket. Both players maintained a firm grasp of the pocket during the match, despite much different paths.
Turner, who also was in search of her third consecutive title, stayed clean heading into the ninth frame but needed a third consecutive strike to have the opportunity to lock out Wagner in the 10th. A 3-6 combination and spare conversion gave the ball to Wagner with the chance to find a double to take home the tiara.
Wagner had the only open of the match in the third frame, but she followed with four consecutive strikes to put herself ahead. Working on a spare and stepping up in the ninth, Wagner left an absolutely cruel 9 pin. She easily converted the spare.
Needing a double and four pins to shut out Turner, Wagner kept her speed up and peppered the 1-3 pocket for the double. An eight count on her fill ball sealed the deal for a 231-226 victory.
As the show cut to a close after the trophy and check presentation (and a visit from fellow hall of famer Pearl Keller), Lisa’s lone appearance in the championship round at the Queens ended with a question.
“Will you marry me?”
I can’t make this stuff up. Lisa Wagner only made one appearance on television at the Queens, ran the stepladder to win and received a marriage proposal.
The show ended before we got an answer.
For those who can’t take the suspense, read this article from the Tampa Bay Times. Is it a great move to propose on national television? I certainly can appreciate the bravado, but I’m not sure that’s my style.
A guaranteed great move? Voting in the next round of the Ultimate Queens Bracket Challenge.