UMES ALMUNA MARIA RODRIGUEZ BOWLS ON ESPN2 TONIGHT
2014 Queens winner, Maria Rodriguez
May 19, 2015

GREEN BAY, Wisc. - 2014 Queen Champions, Maria Jose Rodriguez will defend her title Tuesday night live on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. A 2011 graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Rodriguez will bowl as the fourth seed in the television stepladder finals.

Maria Rodriguez (Ibague Tolima, Colombia), now living in Austin, Texas, won last year's event, a check for $20,000.00 and the coveted Queens tiara. She will face off against former Nebraska star Liz Kuhlkin, this season's NTCA Player of the Year, a title Rodriguez won in 2011. The winner will face another former Nebraska star Shannon Pluhowsky, the three seed, who won the event in 2006. The winner of that match faces 2009 Queens Champion Liz Johnson, the number two seed. She fell to the top seed Erin McCarthy, yet another Nebraska bowler, in the winner's bracket round, giving McCarthy the top seed on the TV finals. Three of the five finalists all bowled collegiately at Nebraska.

The seeds were determined by a four-bowler shootout round with Rodriguez posting a 667, edging out Kuhlkin who shot a 661. Pluhowsky bested them both with a 681 series.

Rodriguez is looking to become just the fifth woman to successfully defend a Queens title, a feat not accomplished since 1982. She would also join an elite group of eight bowlers who have won multiple Queens titles in their careers since it began in 1961. Both Johnson and Pluhowsky are looking to join that group as well.

More than 200 players bowled 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the 64 players in match play. Another one of those who made the cut is another UMES All-America selection, T'nia Falbo (Greensburg, Pa.). Falbo was the 42nd overall seed and faced Pluhowsky in the second round after topping Jacqui Reese 621-580 in round one. Falbo fell in the second round 681-604 and went into the elimination bracket where she fell to Kimi Davidson 595-561.

 

 

Rodriguez had a better path to the finals, she topped former Vanderbilt bowler Josie Earnest 641-636 in the first round, her fellow countrywoman Rocio Restrepo 606-590 in the second round and Leanne Hulsenberg 627-605 in the third round. She fell to Kuhlkin in the next round and hopes to avenge that loss tonight at 8 p.m.

"I am so excited I get to defend my title," said Rodriguez who is preparing for tonight's match. "It is such a grueling field of the best women bowlers in the country and to be able to still come out of that with a chance to defend my title; that means a lot to me and I am ready for the challenge."

This year the Queens is included in the event list for the newly formed Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA), something Rodriguez hopes to add to her resume.

For more information on the event, visit BOWL.com/Queens or PWBA.com.

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