For the third consecutive year, Richmond Raceway is hosting the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour Championship, which runs through Wednesday.
On hand are top international competitors, including No. 1 seed Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Ill., and reigning PWBA Tour champion Maria Jose Rodriquez of Colombia.
Four lanes have been installed in the Old Dominion Building, where both qualifying rounds and the Wednesday night final will be played.
Tennelle Milligan, the PWBA director of operations, spoke to the relationship between Richmond and the organization in recent years.
“We have a great relationship here with Richmond Raceway with turning two events into one,” Milligan said, referring to the Go Bowling 250 Xfinity race on Friday. “It just made sense to bring bowling ahead of time as we go into sponsoring the race.”
Bowling fans aren’t the only ones excited to share the space with the raceway.
O’Keefe, who won the first PWBA Tour Championship at Richmond Raceway in 2017, said the location sparked her passion for NASCAR and she is excited to attend the race after her tournament.
This year, O’Keefe has won four titles during the PWBA season, which started on April 25, and earned her second consecutive player-of-the-year award. She attributed her success this season to greater consistency in her mental toughness.
“I stuck to my mental process and didn’t let the outside noise distract me. Probably, I’m most proud of this season so far,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe earned an automatic bid to the semifinal rounds on Wednesday along with No. 2 seed Danielle McEwan.
Competing in Monday’s best-of-five qualifying rounds is defending champion Rodriguez, who will face Stephanie Johnson of Grand Prairie, Texas.
Rodriguez’s win was her first PWBA title, a strong turnaround after not winning a match during the previous two PWBA Tour Championships. Since her 2018 title, she has doubled her championship-round appearances in PWBA events.
However, she also has made fewer top 12 placements than the year before.
“I made a little change in my game plan on how to attack tournaments and the lanes,” Rodriguez said. “Last year and the year before, my season was more steady. This year, it’s been more like I have it and I make the show, or I don’t as much.”
Rodriguez is the No. 9 seed, four places higher than her standing last year. But she said getting into the top 16 was the most important part.
This is especially true for No. 16 seed Sandra Andersson. While Rodriguez and Johnson earned their places at the championship with points earned through the season, Andersson secured hers by winning one of three tournaments in which she participated this season.
Commuting to and from her native Sweden made competing throughout the season more challenging, Andersson said, but she still met personal goals.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to bowl with these women, and even more a dream come true to win,” Andersson said. “It’s meant a lot for me this year.”
Tickets are available on the Richmond Raceway website. Qualifying rounds are priced at $10 for Monday and Tuesday. The Wednesday night championship round — which will air on CBS Sports Network — is set at $20. Three-day passes are available for $25.
Ahead of the Go Bowling 250, the PWBA also will host Fan Fun Friday from noon to 4 p.m., a free event where participants will be able to bowl in Old Dominion Building alongside the PWBA competitors.
“We wanted to invite in the fans,” Milligan said. “They’ll be able to bowl in their shoes, grab a couple house balls and see what it feels like. It’s just one more piece of the fun and activities.”