California bowlers take Sapphire, Amethyst leads at 2018 USBC Women's Championships

By Tony Contini and Ryne Navarro
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev.
- The state of California was well represented on the lanes Saturday at the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships as bowlers from The Golden State took the lead in Sapphire All-Events and Amethyst Doubles.

Wendy Steve of Antioch, California, secured the lead in Sapphire All-Events at the National Bowling Stadium with a 1,600 nine-game total, and first-time USBC Women's Championships participants Leanne Urtiaga of Perris, California, and Kara Lyons of Riverside, California, moved to the top of the Amethyst Doubles standings with a 1,038 score.

Kimberly St. Romain of Baytown, Texas, previously held the lead in Sapphire All-Events with 1,591, while Laura Smith of Glenwood, Utah, and Lisa Lott of Elsinore, Utah, topped the Amethyst Doubles standings with 1,011.

Steve, a 53-year-old right-hander who rolls a backup ball, posted consistent sets on her way to the lead. She had 549 in team, 530 in singles and 521 in doubles.

She credited her success to heightened concentration, hitting her mark and being sure to follow-through.

"I usually listen to music, but I can't do that here," said Steve, who made her sixth Women's Championships appearance. "So here, I stay focused. When it's time for me to bowl, I get up and get it done."

Steve was encouraged to pick up the sport by her daughter, but she also wanted to keep her own style while competing.

063018-Sapphire-All-Events---Wendy-Steve-275"I wasn't going to cut my nails to bowl," Steve said. "I went to my buddy in the pro shop, and I laid my hands on the counter and told him, 'I want to bowl, but I'm not cutting my nails.' Everybody who sees my nails always asks if I'm going to bowl with them."

Steve plans to keep her style next year in Wichita, Kansas, with a special set of nails, and she's hoping she'll get to show them off while receiving a gemstone trophy awarded to the winner in each average-based division.

Sapphire All-Events includes bowlers with entering averages of 145-159.

063018-Leanne-Urtiaga-and-Kara-Lyons_637Lyons, a 34-year-old right-hander, led the doubles effort with games of 181, 188 and 168 for a 537 series, while Urtiaga, a 28-year-old right-hander, rolled games of 189, 146 and 166 for a 501 set.

Both competitors made their way to Reno in hopes of having fun and potentially cash in their division, but they didn't expect to take the lead.

"When my sister told me we took the lead, I was in shock," Lyons said. "I wasn't sure what to expect in my first year, but taking the lead is an awesome feeling."

The pair admitted that being able to drive to the 2018 event played a big role in making their debuts this week, but they look forward to making more trips in the future.

"This was a relatively easy drive," Urtiaga said. "But going home with the lead definitely makes us want to come back to this tournament."

Amethyst Doubles features bowlers with combined entering averages of 260-289.

The trio from California will have a short wait to see if their scores are enough to capture national titles at the world's largest participatory sporting for women.

The 2018 Women's Championships, which kicked off April 19, will conclude Sunday with its final two squads of doubles and singles competition.

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