Aug. 25, 2012
LAS VEGAS---Josie Earnest's fairy tale week culminated with a Bronze Medal in the Master's Division of the Pan American Bowling Confederation Adult Championships here Saturday.
Little could the Vanderbilt assistant coach have imagined bowling on her parent's lanes in Vandalia, Ill., that not only would she be teaming up with legends such as Liz Johnson and Leanne Hulsenberg on Team USA but one day she would be battling for the Master's individual Gold Medal.
That was the story line in this city of glitz and glamour, a week that Earnest and the Vanderbilt bowling community will not soon forget.
"I'm not sure it has sunk in yet," Earnest said when asked about how it feels to have made the medal stand at this premier international event. "Perhaps after we have the medal ceremony and I have the medals (team and master's) in my hand it will take on a new meaning."
Josie began her long Saturday of competition in fifth place after the field of 90 was trimmed to the top eight finishers in the All Events categories. The two-time NCAA Player of the Year once again had her line and she climbed into third place with six splendid games - five of which were 225 or better.
The eight were then put into another round-robin where head-to-head wins garnered 20 bonus pins. Despite a 279 in the second game, Earnest's scores were not quite as high as the first session and she dropped into fourth heading into the final bracket.
"I had a really good look in the morning session," Josie said, "and I began the second session well but then that look disappeared and I had to grind it out."
Her fourth place status pitted her against USA teammate and Hall of Famer Liz Johnson, who has led the tournament nearly wire-to-wire. The match went down to the tenth frame where Johnson slid past the young upstart, 216-214, to advance into the championship match against Shannon Pluhowsky, also of the United States. Josie and the other semi-finalist, Clara Guerrero of Columbia, were both awarded Bronze Medals. Pluhowsky would eventually defeat Johnson for the Gold Medal.
"My match with Liz was kind of déjà vu," Earnest said, recalling their match game two months ago in the Queens Championship. "This game basically came down to a bad shot of mine in the third frame where I lost a couple of pins and I could never get them back. But I posted a good score and Liz was just better."
Earnest says despite her outstanding summer she still sees plenty of room for improvement and despite the compliments from many, has a hard time envisioning herself as one of the sport's superstars.
Complete results including a video interview with Earnest are found on bowl.com. Earnest will return to Nashville Sunday and expects to be at her McGugin Center desk working with the Commodore team Monday.