Klassen mines bronze at world championships
St. Catharines bowler Sarah Klassen competes at the world championships. Tom Shaw photo.
Bowler Sarah Klassen is on a major roll in 2021.
The scholarship bowler at Wichita State University won a national championship with her collegiate teammates in May and this November she won a bronze medal at the International Bowling Federation Super World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The 21-year-old St. Catharines native defeated the top-ranked bowler in the quarter-finals in Dubai before coming up short in the semifinals.
“The semifinals was the one game that was televised through StrikeCloud and I thought I did well but it just wasn’t enough to win the match.”
The two bowlers who were defeated in the semifinals were awarded bronze medals.
“It is obviously bittersweet because the goal was to win but it’s taking a step back and realizing a bronze medal is a big accomplishment,” the Eden grad said. “It is still my first medal at the world level so it is cool.”
Klassen has represented Canada before at the Tournament of the Americas and the Pan American Bowling Confederation Congress and representing her country on the lanes is always a thrill.
“It definitely never grows old and it was also my first time on the adult level,” she said. “The previous times have all been at the youth level so this one was a bit different and it was super cool to finally be at the adult level.”
Equally cool for Klassen was being part of Wichita State’s first national women’s title since 2009.
“It was the first time that a school won the men’s and women’s side in a long time as well,” she said.
The team went 5-0 at nationals and defeated North Carolina A&T 3-2 in the final to record the school’s 10th overall women’s title.
Coming out on top at nationals was a sweet moment for Klassen.
“It was great. We were preparing all year — really two years because of COVID we lost nationals in 2020 — and we were so ready and confident that it was our time to win a national championship. I don’t want to say it was expected but we believed in it so much that we weren’t going to settle for anything else. It was like a sigh of relief when we did it.”
She is in her senior year at the school.
“Wichita State has been the powerhouse in collegiate bowling for as long as I can remember and there’s a few Canadians that I know that attended school there,” Klassen said. “They were bowlers who I looked up to growing up. I always knew I wanted to go to Wichita State and then in 2016 I attended one of their summer bowling camps.”
The camp was turning point in her bowling career.
“That is when I was approached by the coaches wondering if I wanted to attend. At that time, I think they had 20 national championships and it was clear that I wanted to go there.”
It has turned out to be the perfect destination for her schooling and collegiate bowling future.
“There is always an adjustment period and it’s hard to know whether you are in the right place at the right time, but now looking back on it there is nowhere else I would rather be.”
A typical week for a scholarship bowler includes: team workouts and practices; small team meetings to work on mental training; two players with one coach training sessions; post competition meetings to watch film and discuss tournament performances; study hall; Friday travel days; and, tournaments on the weekends.
Workouts are run by a former Wichita State bowler from England.
“He focuses our workouts around actual bowling movements so we target a lot of the muscles you use during bowling as opposed to just normal workouts.”
Because of the pandemic, she has a year of eligibility remaining but she is not planning on using it.
“My plans are to bowl professionally full-time on tour,” she said. “I think it will be tough at first and financially it is not going to be easy but I am really forward to the experience and living as a professional bowling. It is what I enjoy doing. I am studying accounting but I would much rather live my life as a professional bowler.”
The former Canadian youth champion is working towards that goal.
“It is continuing to grow in versatility and skills, just adding things to my tool kit, not only physically but mentally, and continuing to train to be a professional athlete.”