Nevada bowlers take lead in Ruby Doubles at 2018 USBC Women's Championships

By Ryne Navarro and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev.
- Michelle Okrent of Las Vegas and Julie Jaques of Henderson, Nevada, wanted to make sure their seven-hour drive across Nevada to the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships was a worthwhile experience.

At the National Bowling Stadium on Sunday, the pair drove to the top of the Ruby Doubles standings at the 2018 event, posting a 1,139 total to sneak into the top spot. Bre Higgins of North Platte, Nebraska, and Cindy Johnson of Loveland, Colorado, had been the Ruby Doubles leaders since May 4 with 1,135.

Okrent led the effort Sunday with games of 147, 224 and 221 for a 592 series, and Jaques added games of 213, 178 and 156 for a 547 set.

Both Okrent and Jacques overcame adversity on their way to the lead. They each thought it was remarkable that they bowled well enough to reach the top spot.

"I have an inner ear infection," said Jaques, who made her 19th USBC Women's Championships appearance. "Yesterday, I could not stay stable at the line, which was tough, but today, I fought through it."

Okrent, who made her seventh tournament appearance, had to adjust her shoes to get more comfortable at the 78-lane NBS.

"I haven't seen a doctor yet, but I'm pretty sure I have plantar fasciitis," Okrent said. "Today, I put in some soles, which made it more bearable to bowl, and I had some better results."

In addition to overcoming their ailments, Okrent and Jaques also competed with heavy hearts after learning just before the start of their doubles and singles squad, that a friend's mother had died.

"We want to dedicate our performance to our friend, Laura, and her mother, Shirley," Jaques said. "We learned that Shirley passed away this morning, and we wanted to let Laura's family know that we remembered her and bowled for her today."

Jaques now finds herself in a familiar position as she waits to see if she can claim her first Women's Championships title. At the 2016 event in Las Vegas, Jaques took the lead in Ruby All-Events, before finishing in second place.

Jacques and Okrent also teamed up to help Henderson's Crazy Vegas Chicks to a fifth-place finish in Ruby Team at the South Point Bowling Plaza in 2016.

"I had success at this tournament in 2016," Jaques said. "I got knocked off in the last week of the tournament, so, personally, I hope we can stay on top this year."

Jacques and Okrent won't have long to see if their score is enough to claim the title. The 2018 Women's Championships, which kicked off April 19, will conclude July 1.

Ruby Doubles features players with combined entering averages of 350-379.