AND SO IT BEGINS . . .
THE FIRST Women’s International Bowling Congress Queens cham- pionship, staged at Northcrest Lanes in Fort Wayne, Ind., in May, 1961, was not only the spring- board to the longest-running women’s major event, it proved to be the springboard for Janet Harman’s Hall of Fame career. Harman, then 31, had placed near the top of several major events prior to the Queens, including a fourth-place finish in WIBC singles in 1959 and sec- ond in all-events a year later, but
Queens brings out in the top wom- en bowlers is, of course, no joke. In addition to the historic magnitude of the event, the format puts bowl- ers on edge from the opening frame. The Queens opens with three quali- fying blocks of five games each to determine 63 spots in the match- game field. As defending champion, Kulick receives an automatic bid to complete the 64-player match-play field, but will be seeded according to her qualifying blocks score. But, like the USBC Masters, once
Janet Harman (left) beat Eula Touchette (right) to win the first Queens crown in 1961.
lamented her failure to win a major championship.
“I kept wondering and wondering if I’d ever win a big title,” she said at the time.
Her time had come. Harman, who was raised in Walla Walla, Wash., but moved to Cerritos, Calif., in ’59 to bowl in the rugged Los Angeles Traveling League, was one of 122 entrants in that inaugural Queens. She finished 15th in the eight-game qualifying round, then rolled through six straight opponents to complete the match-play portion of the event with an unblemished record. In the final match, Harman defeated Eula Touchette of East St. Louis, Ill., 794-776 (4 game total), to garner the $1,240 top prize ($1,000 for the title and $200 for each of her six match- play wins) and the first rhinestone tiara, still symbolic of the Queens crown.
Harman went on to win numerous regional and national titles, includ- ing the BPAA Women’s National Doubles title (with Donna Zimmerman) in 1956. She also posted a then-record 792 three-game series in 1964. Harman was inducted into the WIBC Hall of Fame in 1985. She passed away in 1991.
the qualifying blocks have been completed and players are seeded into match play, pin-count disap- pears and each match starts with a clean scoresheet. Each match con- sists of three games, total pinfall. “It’s unlike any other tourna-
ment,” said Kim Terrell-Kearney, 2002 Queens champ and the assis- tant head coach of Team USA and the International Training and Re- search Center in Arlington, Texas. “In match play, you can shoot 700 and lose while someone bowls 550 on the next pair and wins. It’s crazy, but that’s also what makes it so exciting. I absolutely love it. It’s the idea that if you don’t play well at this moment, you could be eliminated. In longer-format tour- naments you can struggle and still ride it out. The Queens is black and white, life and death.” “You have to be prepared to bowl
well immediately,” concurred USBC Director of Coaching Certification
20 USBOWLER APRIL 2011
and Development, Carolyn Dorin- Ballard, who won the Queens at the start of her record-setting 2001 sea- son. “Mentally, you have to adjust quicker. You need to have a game plan from the start, but you also have to be ready to change quickly.” The unpredictability and sudden-
ness of the event, along with the size and quality of the field, are elements that add to the marquee value that comes with the Queens crown.
SETTING HER SIGHTS: For defending champion Kulick, Hall of Fame aspira- tions is one of the motivating factors that make the Queens such a competi- tive tournament.
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