UMES BOWLING ALUMNA SHINE ON BIGGEST STAGES
Maria Rodriguez recently won the 2014 USBC Queens.
Maria Rodriguez recently won the 2014 USBC Queens.

July 15, 2014

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - To say that the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) has a successful women's bowling program may be an understatement. The five National Championships, seven conference titles and numerous All-American honorees to come through Princess Anne make them easily one of the more decorated in the country. But what the young women who are alums of the program and University do after college is more telling.

Many former UMES bowlers "go pro in something other than sports," as the NCAA slogan says and are doctors, lawyers, educators, athletics administrators and various other professionals. But a few still bowl and bowl well.

Recently 2011 graduate Maria Rodriguez (Ibague Tolima, Colombia) won the 2014 USBC Queens title, the most prestigious women's bowling tournament. But other Hawks are winning too. 2014 graduate Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.) recently won the 3rd Annual Ladies Scratch Tournament in Vernon Hill, Ill, not far from her home. While it wasn't a major event, Buja hopes to carry over the success of the win.

"There were a lot of former collegiate bowlers in the field, people who bowled for major programs like Central Missouri, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Valparaiso, Robert-Morris and others," Buja said. One included her former teammate Anggie Ramirez (Bogota, Colombia) who is now living in the area. "It was good to have the experience and come out on top." Buja added.

Buja topped 37 other women in the field. She made the final nine after six games of qualifying and then the final six after a round robin and position round.

She shot 1517 for the first 6 games with a high of 279 and a bonus 317 pins to lead qualifying after the first six matches heading into the round robin play. Buja went undefeated in that section as well, going 6-0 there and only needed 17 pins over the entire last game to take the tournament title. She posted a whopping 3,694 pin count.

She won a $500 prize, a new ball and a custom jersey for taking first place in qualifying and overall. While it is a long way from the $20,000.00 cash prize Rodriguez just took home at the Queens, it nonetheless helped boost her confidence for the next event, which will be in her hometown of Rockford, Ill. Also bowling in that one, Rodriguez, fresh off the biggest win of her career.

Megan Buja</A> recently won her first professional tournament.
Megan Buja

That event is the BPAA Women's All Star Tournament, open to any USBC female member. It is just one of three events going on in Rockford from July 19-25. Another is the Senior Women's U.S. Open. Most of the major players in women's bowling will be in Illinois for the event, which include Diandra Asbaty, Brittni Hamilton, Liz Johnson, Danielle McEwan, Wendy Macpherson, Shannon O'Keefe, Shannon Pluhowsky and Kelly Kulick, who Rodriguez just defeated to win the Queens.

"We are excited to have both women's tournaments at one location this year," said BPAA Tournament chairman John Losito, adding, "Bowling fans will have a lot to see when they step into The Cherry Bowl to watch the competition. These women are truly among the best in the country."

The top prize for a win is $15,000.00, something both Buja and Rodriguez have their sights set on. But money is still to be won as the prize fund for the vent is valued at $75,000.00.

The All-Star Tournament officially starts on July 21st. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are set aside for three rounds of qualifying, followed by round one of match play Thursday morning with round two in the evening. The competition comes to an exciting end Friday with the All Star Stepladder Final beginning at 11:00 a.m. local time.

Another Hawk holding her own is Ramirez who earlier this summer competed in the 2014 Storm InsideBowling.com Open in St. Louis, Mo. Ramirez made it all the way to the finals, becoming the first woman to ever make the finals in an event open to everyone. The event featured over 300 of the top bowlers in the world.

Ramirez qualified eighth in the field, averaging a 240.4 (1,923 pinfall over eight games). The field was cut to the top 32 bowlers who tossed four more games to add to their pinfall, determining the top 12 finalists. Ramirez fell to 10th overall after that round but averaged a 229 over those four games. The field then went to a round robin format for the final 12 and she advanced to the top five and a place in the finals.

As the fifth seed, Ramirez dispatched with the fourth seed Ken McNeely (237-194), then the third seed and defending champion Bill O'Neill (245-225), a multiple title winner on the PBA tour. Ramirez then topped Craig Nidiffer (235-202) the second seed, before squaring off with top see Matt McNeil who bowls for Wichita State. The lefty vs. lefty match was on, but Ramirez couldn't secure the $10,000.00 first place prize but settled for a modest $5,500.00 take for second place, falling 268-193, unfortunately her lowest game of the finals.

Anggie  Ramirez

"I am incredibly happy with the performance and the results," said Ramirez via social media. "Being the first woman ever to make this tournament's finals makes it even better! It was a pleasure to share the lanes with all the finalists and congrats to Matt McNeil on the win!"

Earlier this month Ramirez won the city championship of Bogota, Colombia, her home country and is now headed to Mexico to represent her home nation in an Olympic festival featuring 41 countries competing in a variety of sports, including bowling.

"We are very proud of all of our bowlers, current and former," said head coach Kayla Bandy. "They represent us well wherever they go and we are elated to call them all Hawks!"

UMESHawks.com will continue to report on bowling events that feature alumns from the program.

See Anggie Ramirez bowl all four matches of the 2014 Storm InsideBowling.com Open below.