EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Germany's Birgit Pöppler put together a consistent block Thursday at Silver Lanes to lead the 60-player field at the pre-tournament qualifier (PTQ) and earn her spot in the main field at the Professional Women's Bowling Association East Hartford Open.
Pöppler secured one of the 11 available spots into the main 32-player field after posting a 1,705 eight-game total, a 213.13 average. She was followed in the standings by Haley Richard of Tipton, Michigan (1,679), and Gazmine Mason of Cranston, Rhode Island (1,678).
The top 24 players on the 2019 PWBA points list (through the U.S. Women's Open) already earned a spot into the main field at the PWBA East Hartford Open, which kicks off Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern with the opening round of qualifying.
Three players - Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, and Singapore's Shayna Ng and Cherie Tan - did not compete this week, allowing three additional players to advance from the PTQ.
Other players advancing include Taylor Bulthuis of Coral Springs, Florida; Karsyn Lukosius of Brick, New Jersey; Jazreel Tan of Singapore; Rocio Restrepo of Louisville, Ohio; Kayla Bandy of Salisbury, Maryland; Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey; Lauren Hoffman of Jamesburg, New Jersey; and Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio.
Martin earned the final spot with a 1,628 total, a 203.50 average. She recently made headlines at the Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International in July, where she was the top qualifier in the 20-and-under division as a 14-year-old and earned a spot on Junior Team USA for 2020.
Pöppler, who teamed with Jason Sterner to win the 2017 PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles for her lone PWBA Tour title, has been fighting a back injury throughout the 2019 season, but she feels her time off in July has helped her get back into form.
"I actually spent some of my time off just resting," Pöppler said. "I had so many issues with my back during the first swing of the season, so I took off for like two weeks after getting home. I was wearing a brace, but I don't have to wear it anymore, so that's a plus."
Pöppler rolled games of 182, 212, 225, 216, 214, 231, 234 and 191 on her way to leading the field, and her aggressiveness helped her make her move toward the top of the standings.
"I was hoping I could stay farther right, but it didn't work for me. "Pöppler said. "I was going to stay trapped, though. Every week, I've tried to do what everyone else is doing, and it just doesn't work for me. I ended up making a move left, tried to stay patient and cover my spares."
The PWBA East Hartford Open will feature a pair of eight-game qualifying rounds Friday to cut the field from 32 players to 12. The Round of 12 will feature six additional games starting Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern, and total pinfall after 22 games will determine the top five players advancing to the stepladder finals.
The stepladder finals will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
BowlTV.com is providing livestream coverage of all rounds leading up to the stepladder finals.