Bowling: Dayton women tally state titles

Candace Shepard is the first to admit she loves to win, but there is something she enjoys even more.

“Winning is great, but there is nothing better than winning with your friends,” Shepard said.

Shepard, along with fellow Greater Dayton United States Bowling Congress members Jennifer Owens and Kari Watson and Rachael Delserone, of Lorain, won the four-person actual team title at the 92nd Ohio USBC Women’s Bowling Association State Championship. The team posted 2,744 in April but had to wait until the tournament wrapped up in June to secure the title. A total of 707 bowlers competed in the state event which ran from March 17-June 3 at Northridge and Victory lanes in Springfield.

“We didn’t know if the score would stand,” Shepard said. “The competition is tough and there are so many variables that play into it.”

The most important variable for the eventual state champions had less to do with strikes and more to do with smiles.

“The relationship between these ladies, on and off the lanes, is the big thing,” Shepard said. “This group is competitive, but also incredibly supportive. Even when we’re stinking on the lanes, we make sure to have a good time.”

Shepard, Owens and Watson have been bowling with and against each other for more than two decades. They have navigated professional, personal and parenting challenges together over the years.

“We are good friends and we have a lot of fun together,” Watson said. “We are comfortable and able to talk with each other.”

That camaraderie comes in handy.

“We may not have the same style of bowling, but we play similar areas so we can help each other,” Owens said. “And we take suggestions well because we know that they’re there to help us.”

And friendship can help overcome a bad frame every time.

“For me, bowling is competitive but it’s also a release from work life and home life,” Shepard said. “It’s a weekend to get away from everything else.”

Titles are a bonus – a very welcome bonus.

Tournament title tally: Shannon Pluhowsky’s actual singles and actual and handicap all-events titles marked the 12th, 13th and 14th state titles for the long-time Team USA bowler. She tallied her first four state championships in 2010 when she swept the actual singles, doubles, team and all-events competitions.

So close: Just one pin was the difference in the singles handicap division as Jennifer Smith, Summit County USBC, edged out Dayton’s Heidi Sanders 836-837 for the title. Sanders placed third in the actual singles event with 780.

Ohio USBC WBA State Tournament – Local Champions

All-events handicap and actual: Shannon Pluhowsky, 2,381

Singles actual: Shannon Pluhowsky, 813

Doubles actual: Andrea Behr/Brooke Summers (Toledo), 1,422

Four-person team actual: Jennifer Owens, Candace Shepard, Kari Watson, Rachael Delserone (Lorain), 2,744

Five-person team actual: Andrea Behr, Lauren Paige, Heidi Sanders, Jamie Beard, Ashley Bryant, 3,141

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