RENO, Nev. - Sweden's Jenny Wegner celebrated her 24th birthday Saturday at the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Queens, and one of her presents was a trip to the tournament's double-elimination match-play bracket at the National Bowling Stadium.
Wegner led qualifying after 15 games at the National Bowling Stadium this week with a 3,472 total, a 231.47 average, and will headline the 64-player bracket starting Sunday at noon Eastern.
The 2018 USBC Queens, the first major on the 2018 Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour schedule, will run through May 22 at the famed 78-lane venue, with the stepladder finals being broadcast live on CBS Sports Network on May 22 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Wegner jumped into second place in the standings Friday after posting the highest block of the day (1,185), and she used Saturday's final round to learn as much as she could about her equipment and the characteristics of the NBS.
She rolled games of 233, 248, 199, 247 and 208 for a 1,135 total Saturday.
"I tried to use every ball in my bag to find out as much as I could for tomorrow," said Wegner, the 2016 QubicaAMF World Cup champion. "I hoped to find out what I needed to do with surfaces and everything, and I learned a lot in the last five games. I'm just trying to make every shot as well as I can and take it one shot at a time."
Although Wegner celebrated her birthday nearly 5,000 miles away from home, she certainly felt surrounded by family in Reno. Nine additional players, as well as coaches, made the trip from Sweden, including her sister, Cajsa.
Five of the 10 players from Sweden advanced to match play. Joining Wegner in the top 64 are 2016 Queens runner-up Sandra Andersson, Cajsa Wegner, Anna Andersson and Ida Andersson.
"I love when there are a lot of Swedish people here," Wegner said. "It feels like home even though I'm so far away. We have our coaches with us, so it's very comforting. They're watching every single shot, and from one block to another we are communicating to each other. I always end up bowling on my birthday and am never at home, so I'm kind of used to it, but being able to lead the Queens is a lot of fun."
Shannon O'Keefe of O'Fallon, Illinois, finished second with 3,439, and Ukraine's Daria Kovalova, who led the first two rounds of qualifying, was third with 3,415. Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, finished fourth with 3,398, and Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, rounded out the top five with 3,383.
Defending champion Diana Zavjalova of Latvia finished qualifying tied in 19th place with a 15-game total of 3,283. She'll face Colombia's Clara Guerrero in Sunday's opening round of match play.
Zavjalova, a two-time Queens champion, was guaranteed the No. 64 spot in the double-elimination match-play bracket but was able to improve her seeding through qualifying.
Three bowlers tied for the 63rd position in the bracket, resulting in a one-game roll-off to determine the final two competitors advancing to match play. Sweden's Nina Flack, Venezuela's Karen Marcano and Shannon Sellens of Copiague, New York, each finished qualifying with a 3,116 total, a 207.73 average.
Marcano delivered six consecutive strikes in the early going to earn her spot in match play with a 233 game, and Sellens advanced with 168. Flack was unable to recover from three open frames and was eliminated with 160.
Marcano, the No. 63 seed, will face O'Keefe, and Sellens, the No. 64 seed, will bowl Wegner.
The match-play bracket will feature three-game matches with total pinfall determining who advances. The five players who make their way through the bracket will advance to the stepladder finals and have the chance to take home the top prize of $20,000.
All players in this year's field bowled 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the 63 competitors joining Zavjalova in match play.
All rounds of competition leading up to the stepladder finals will be broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association. To subscribe to watch the action on Xtra Frame, visit XtraFrame.TV.