USA Wins World Silver; Varano Gains Singles Bronze

Competition concluded at the IBF U21 World Championships

by Rod Williamson

HELSINGBORG, SWEDEN — It wasn’t the gold that Victoria Varano and her Junior Team USA teammates sought but the American foursome is bringing home hard-earned medals from the IBF U21 World Championships.

Varano won bronze in singles play Wednesday and was part of USA’s silver medal-winning team that included Vanderbilt teammates Mabel Cummins and Paige Peters along with Jillian Martin of Ohio.

Varano lost her semi-final singles match with eventual champion Colleen Pee of Singapore despite bowling 20 clean frames in the contest. Pee was brilliant in winning 268-220 and 238-203.

“Tori is a gritty competitor and fun to watch compete,” said Vanderbilt Associate Head Coach Josie Barnes, who was on hand for the big match. “She gave it a heck of a good run.”

Attention then moved to the team game semifinals and finals, where the USA would square off with Sweden in the semis. The Americans were sharp in winning the best of three games, 2-1. USA took the first game, 235-215 before dropping a high-scoring match, 234-335. USA rebounded 211-175 to advance to the finals to meet the powerful Singapore unit that demolished Korea with scores of 237 and 266.

Team USA jumped out with a small lead in the first game with a rotation of Varano, Peters, Cummins and Martin. The nature of international team games put the biggest stress on the leadoff bowler as they handle the first, fifth, ninth and tenth frames.

Varano struck in the first, fifth, ninth and first ball in the tenth but left a single pin standing on her second attempt in the final frame. That cracked the door for Singapore, who scrambled for a 224 tie and a roll off. International roll offs are just the ninth and tenth frames and only involve the leadoff bowlers. Singapore’s leadoff was able to get the win, 49-29, on the strength of a couple strikes.

The second game’s USA rotation was Martin, Cummins, Peters and Varano. The Americans struggled to strike consistently, dropping a 213-189 game to give Singapore the gold.

Varano was disappointed but put the day in perspective.

“Even though today didn’t go as well as we wanted it to go,” she said, “it was a great experience. The team and I were able to form great bonds to carry into next year.”

Varano credited her older sister, professional star Danielle McEwan, with getting her ready for the big tournament.

“My sister bowled this tournament in Dubai in November and so she helped me prepare for it,” Varano noted. “I feel like I put in a lot of hard work which was shown by my successes.”

The humble Varano was grateful for the chance to wear the red, white and blue uniform.

“I was very excited for the opportunity to represent my country, not only as an individual but as a team.”