LAS VEGAS – Birgit Noreiks of Germany has been a standout bowler for many years. The 36-year-old right-hander has captured more than a dozen medals in international competition and is a six-time German Player of the Year.
As such, when Noreiks joined the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour in 2016, everyone knew that she could be counted on to be at or near the top of the standings on a regular basis.
Noreiks has lived up to those expectations, establishing herself as a steady competitor week in and week out over the last seven seasons.
She broke through for her first title in 2017, which came when she teamed up with Professional Bowlers Association player Jason Sterner to win the PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles tournament in Houston.
After a bit of a dry spell, Noreiks got back in the winner’s circle again in 2021 when she defeated Dasha Kovalova of Muskegon, Michigan, 228-177, to claim first place at the PWBA GoBowling! Classic in Arlington, Texas.
At that point, the one thing missing from Noreiks’ resume was a major title.
She wouldn’t take very long to cross that off the list, however, as one season later, she broke through to win the 2022 United States Bowling Congress Queens, which was contested at Stardust Bowl in Addison, Illinois.
Now, Noreiks will return to the event this week at Sam’s Town Bowling Center in Las Vegas looking to make another long run through the tournament’s double-elimination bracket.
The 2023 USBC Queens begins Wednesday with the tournament’s official practice sessions. The first of three five-game qualifying rounds will start Thursday before the field is cut to the top 63 players and Noreiks, who is guaranteed a spot in the bracket as the defending champion.
Three-game total-pinfall matches will determine which players advance through the bracket leading up to the stepladder finals on May 23 at 7 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
All qualifying and match-play rounds leading up to the live televised finals will be broadcast at BowlTV.com.
The winner of the Queens will take home a $60,000 top prize and the tiara awarded to the champion.
Noreiks averaged just shy of 215 across six matches enroute to earning the No. 2 seed for the stepladder finals last year in Addison.
She went 5-1 during that stretch, taking down defending champion Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, 721-689, in the process. Her only loss came during the battle for the top seed, which came out in favor of Clara Guerrero of Colombia.
Noreiks got the better of Guerrero when it mattered most, however, collecting a 187-158 victory during the title match to capture the tiara and her first career major title.
Now, as the 2023 Queens is set to begin, Noreiks must get acquainted with a new feeling, which is what it feels like to come to a major as the defending champion.
Thankfully, she will have 15 games of qualifying to get comfortable, which is an advantage that she isn’t taking for granted.
“There are more than 200 girls bowling, so it’s kind of nice to know that I’m already qualified for match play; it’s a good situation to be in,” Noreiks said. “Still, I want to do my best and bowl well during qualifying so that I’ll feel comfortable when match play begins.”
Many Queens competitors will tell you that the tournament doesn’t truly start until the bracket is filled in and matches start.
Noreiks is inclined to agree, but that format is one of the things that she enjoys the most about bowling the Queens.
“I really like Queens match play because it’s three games, so you just can’t ever give up,” Noreiks said. “It’s a nice, different format than everything else; I really like the way that this tournament is run.”
Speaking of runs, that is precisely what Noreiks hopes to start with a strong performance at this year’s Queens as, so far, her 2023 PWBA Tour season has been a bit up and down.
She kicked things off with a very good showing at the PWBA Stockton Open, where she finished sixth and missed the cut to the stepladder finals by just two pins.
She took a step backward last week in Spokane, however, just never getting comfortable, which lead to a 49th-place finish and missed cut at the GoBowling! Spokane Open.
Nevertheless, Noreiks loves match play, and she knows that she can turn things around and give her season a boost with a good effort this week at Sam’s Town.
“I’m confident because I like match play, and I know what I’m capable of doing,” Noreiks said. “I just want to physically throw it better during qualifying so that I can get lined up and have a good feeling going into match play. That’s what I plan to do, and we’ll just see what happens.”
This year’s field will feature more than 200 players competing across two squads during qualifying. Match play will begin Sunday and go into Monday before the top five players are determined for Tuesday’s stepladder finals.
For more information on the USBC Queens, visit BOWL.com/Queens.