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Sat, Sep 21
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SANTA DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Two North Carolina A&T women’s bowlers hung up their Aggie jersey for the summer and picked up the jerseys of their respective home countries to compete in the 2019 Pan American Bowling Confederation Youth Championships under-21 this past summer.

Junior Ana Olaya bowled for Colombia while sophomore Ericka Quesada competed for Costa Rica. Both bowlers finished in the top-8 of the masters bracket. 

With 39 bowlers competing from North, Central and South America along with the Caribbean, only the top-16 bowlers advanced to the masters bracket. Quesada was the highest-ranked Costa Rican and entered masters as the No. 6 seed. Olaya entered the tournament as the No. 12 seed. 

“I wanted to be in the top eight because the higher you get into masters, the more comfortable and confident you feel,” Quesada said.  “The first eight positions get to choose where they want to start in the lanes.  I wanted to be in the first position because I could choose where I want to end and most of the time that helps you a lot.”

Both won their first match in the round of 16. Quesada defeated No. 11 seed Laura Garcia of Colombia 245-216 in the first game and 220-188 in the second. Olaya sparked an upset. She defeated No. 5 seed Caityln Johnsson of the United States 243-210 in the first game and 223-195 in the second to advance in the round of eight.

“I love masters,” Olaya said.  “Masters is always a good opportunity for me to know myself and to kind of encourage myself to know that I’m good, I’ve got this and I can do this. It was a pretty good feeling.  It was great to know that I can trust myself and I can be confident in myself.” 

Both N.C. A&T bowlers lost in the round of eight.  Quesada came up short against No. 3 seed Paulina Torres of Puerto Rico, who went on to win the masters, 206-155 in the first game and 235-222 in the second game, while Olaya faced another U.S. bowler and fell to No. 4 seed Mabel Cummins 220-191 in the first game and 193-137 in the second game.

In the two masters matches, Quesada averaged 216.25, while Olaya averaged 198.5 in four games. 

“Ana didn’t bowl quite as well as she had hoped, but when she needed to bowl well, she stepped up in the last few games in the team event,” head coach Kim Terrell-Kearney said.  “The more experience that she gets, the better she will be prepared for this upcoming season.”

To qualify for the masters, each bowler had to bowl six games in each tournament as a single, as doubles, as trios and as a foursome competing for medals in each event. In the singles tournament, Olaya was off to a great start with a sixth-place finish averaging 193.83 pins and totaling 1,163 pins.  She recorded four matches of 185-plus including a game-high 237 in the fifth game.

Quesada finished singles in 11th place averaging 188.00 pins and totaling 1,128 pins. She recorded three matches of 190-plus including a game-high 224 in the second game. Doubles was her best tournament performance after she totaled 1,276 pins for an average of 212.67 to record the fourth-best score on the day.

All six games she posted at least a 174 score including four games of 200-plus. Quesada scored a game-high 245 in the third game to help lead Costa Rica to a bronze medal. 

Olaya also recorded a top-10 performance in the doubles with a 10th-place finish totaling 1,161 pins for an average of 193.50 pins as each game was at least a 173 score with two 200-plus games. Her high was a second-game 225. Quesada and Alexa Fernández combined to finish third for the bronze medal for Costa Rica (199.0). Olaya and Correa combined to place fourth for Colombia (193.50).

In the trios, Colombia finished third for the bronze medal (189.06) Costa Rica finished fourth (183.56). Quesada led the Costa Rican with 1,138 total pins (189.67) for the 10th-best score. Quesada’s best score was 246 in the sixth and final game.

In the final event before masters, Colombia picked up the bronze medal again (190.58). The Colombians were 33 pins behind second-place Puerto Rico. Costa Rica finished fourth (183.50). Olaya had a terrific Day 2 posting the second-best score on the team (1,137 total pins) for an average of 189.50 to finish 10th. 

Day 2 also saw Quesada once again lead the Costa Ricans (194.67) to finish the day in sixth place. Quesada has been playing for the Costa Rican national team since 2011.

“Every time that I can play for my country, that’s an honor,” Quesada said. “It’s cool to go to another country to represent your country and to wear your country’s flag. A&T has given me the tools needed to be able to improve. Before coming here, I was not consistent. I have been working with coach Kim since I came here, and it has made me more consistent.”

Terrell-Kearney said Quesada has the most experience in international formats. Therefore, she had high hopes Quesada would bowl well at the games. Quesada also had a strong finish to the 2018-19 season. Quesada led the team with an average of 199.79 and had 16 200-plus games. She finished third on the team with 7,592 total pins and bowled the highest game of 2018-19 season for the Aggies, a 259.

Olaya had a team-high 10,090 total pins earning first-team All-MEAC honors and National Tenpins Coaches Association honorable mention All-American honors after posting 19 200-plus bowling games.  Even though Olaya and Quesada were competing against each other, they still had time to be Aggie teammates.

“I have to beat you, but I love you,” Olaya said with a smile about competing with Quesada. “Even though we were wearing different jerseys, it was nice to have support from someone you know and seeing a familiar face there.”

The Aggies start the season at the Tulane University Sugar Bowl Invitational in Harahan, La., from Oct. 18-20.