Making adjustments is key to success at USBC Open Championships


    United States

    Bowling Alley: American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas

    2006USBCOpenLogo.jpg Since competitors only bowl nine games at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships and have limited practice time, the key to success is often how quickly they can read their ball reactions and make the necessary adjustments on ever-changing lane conditions.

    In today's bowling environment, oil moves around with every shot that is thrown. Even high-average bowlers can struggle with carry down, which occurs when oil is picked up by the bowling ball and re-deposited on the previously dry backend of the lane.

    During the five-person team event, with 10 bowlers on the same pair of lanes, knowing when and where to move on the approach, how to change targets and when to switch equipment are crucial and can have a drastic effect on the movement of the oil.

    "If everyone plays in the same general area, they increase their chances of opening up the lane, which usually means an easier path to the pocket," said USBC Technical Director Neil Stremmel. "But if people are playing all over the lane, it can get tricky and they will have a harder time maintaining consistent reactions."

    As an example, as the lanes breakdown and dry out, right-handed bowlers tend to migrate to the left in search of more oil to help keep the ball from reacting to soon.

    During a typical Open Championships doubles and singles squad, the lanes already will have seen a considerable amount of play, so it is important for bowlers to walk in with a game plan. With only one practice ball on each lane, it can be valuable to recall how the lanes changed during team event on the previous day. In addition, watching the bowlers on the previous squad can give some important information and determine how the lanes should be attacked.

    Equipment selection also is important. The type of ball chosen plays a significant role in how the lanes break down.

    Dull and aggressive equipment absorbs fresh oil as it cuts through it, causing the lanes to dry out faster. Conversely, shiny and pearlized equipment will skid more and provide length as the lanes dry out, allowing the shot to hold up longer.

    Whether it's equipment, or where to play on the lanes, making adjustments is the key to success. Randy Russell of Monroe, Ga., who took the lead in Regular All-Events with 1,950 on Feb. 12 (now in 48th place) was surprised by how much the lanes changed for him during his Open Championships experience.

    "During the team event, the lanes transitioned more than I thought they would, and I just didn't read it fast enough," said Russell, who made his second trip to the Open Championships and posted a 625 effort in the team event. "During doubles and singles I knew I needed to make a big jump, and I knew exactly when to move again and what to do as far as ball changes based on what I saw during the team event."

    Unlike most tournaments, bowlers at the Open Championships have the knowledge and experience of numerous pro shops and ball drillers on-site to answer any questions or help them with equipment selection.

    "Having the right equipment is the key to bowling well, which includes matching up the right layout and ball surface with the condition," said Frankie May, who has almost 50 years of ball drilling experience. "At our booth we like to prepare the bowlers with the best advice and equipment we can before they even step out there for their first event."

    Four-time Open Championships titlist Jeff Richgels of Oregon, Wis., who was a 2005 Regular Doubles and Team All-Events champion, offers this advice to stay on top of the changing conditions.

    "I do a lot of networking with people who bowl the tournament before we do, and the information they bring home is always helpful," said Richgels, who will be making his 25th Open Championships appearance and makes it a point to come out a day early to see how people are playing the lanes.

    "We also have a fantastic group of 10 guys, and we depend on each other a lot. Playing the lanes the right way is crucial, and all of us playing them the same way is even more important. It also doesn't hurt that we have a lot of past experience to draw on. Together, we've probably seen about all there is to see, and that helps when it's time to make a decision out there. In the end though, if I win, I want it to be because I was the best bowler on that day, not because I had some secret information."

    Former lane monitor shoots sixth perfect game of 2006 USBC Open Championships

    2006USBCOpenRalphLee.jpg When the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships (formerly the American Bowling Congress Championships Tournament) traveled to Reno, Nev., in 2001 and 2004, local Ralph Lee often found himself in the squad room wishing he was the one being recognized for his consecutive trips to the event, or introduced as the owner of an honor score on the tournament lanes.

    Lee, who spent those two years as a tournament lane monitor and was responsible for leading the bowlers down the center aisle, will finally get the recognition he daydreamed about after shooting the sixth perfect game of the 2006 USBC Open Championships.

    "When I was a lane monitor, I tried to get on the pairs of lanes where I knew the good bowlers would be, and I always wanted to see how people with the same style as me were playing the lanes," said Lee, who made his fifth tournament appearance. "One of my goals has always been to bowl a 300 at this tournament. Going into the 10th frame I was really relaxed and that kind of surprised me, but I knew where I needed to throw the ball, and I was confident I could do it."

    The 49-year-old right-hander opened his doubles event with 15 consecutive strikes at the American Bank Center Exhibit Hall on Tuesday and followed his seventh career perfect game with 207 and 166 for 673. Lee added 640 in singles and 594 in team to finish with 1,907 all-events.

    Until the 2005 event in Baton Rouge, La., Lee had only bowled the tournament when it was in Reno. But now that he's part of a group that he can count on to go every year, his next goal is to be one of the guys receiving a 25-year plaque in the squad room.

    "I really enjoy this tournament, and I kick myself for not doing it when I started bowling in 1971," Lee said. "When I couldn't get a team together, I guess I could've gone by myself, but I prefer going with a group of people. The people you go with is everything. You fly together, room together and party together, and I'm really glad I met this group of guys."

    Presenting sponsors for the 2006 USBC Open Championships are Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Hotel/Casinos in Reno, Nev. Other participating sponsors are Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Texas State Aquarium, Majestic Ventures Yacht Charters, Inc., USS Lexington Museum and Texas Treasure Casino Cruises.

    Top 10 division leaders with hometown and pinfalls:


    1, Champions Bowling (Jason Milligan, Doug Wilcox, Tennelle Milligan, Robby Callan, Robby Porter), Sacramento, Calif., 3,319. 2, Steve Cook's Bowling Supply, Sacramento, Calif., 3,318. 3, Team 11725, Klamath Falls, Ore., 3,292. 4, Shox U, Wichita, Kan., 3,243. 5, Breakpoint Pro Shop 2, Fargo, N.D., 3,242. 6, Ray's Pro Shop, Sacramento, Calif., 3,229. 7, Breakpoint Pro Shop 1, Fargo, N.D., 3,127. 8, Team 8 Ball, Klamath Falls, Ore., 3,126. 9, Team 11834, Waterville, Minn., 3,117. 10, Macanudos, Duluth, Ga., 3,110.


    1, Joe Baker, Billings, Mo./Jeff Phillips, Springfield, Mo., 1,399. 2, Dana Criswell/Gary Ekman, Fremont, Calif., 1,381. 3, Dave Hewitt, Fremont, Calif./Larry Cooper, Reno, Nev., 1,376. 4, Wes Godwin, Monroe, N.C./John May, Iron Station, N.C., 1,372. 5, Bruce Beach, Ottawa, Ohio/Todd Basinger, Bluffton, Ohio, 1,371. 6, Jay Heinzelman, Evansville, Wis./Brian Hoffman, Mount Horeb, Wis., 1,364. 7, Travis Crittendon, Grand Rapids, Mich./Mike Smith Jr., Lowell, Mich., 1,355. 8, Matt Mariano, Hubbard, Ohio/Robert Alexander, Greenville, Pa., 1,348. 9, Mike Moore, Greensboro, N.C./Elmore James, Burlington, N.C., 1,345. 10, Jeremy Redmon, Lockport, Ill./Scott Gillenwater, New Lenox, Ill., 1,342.

    1, Janette Piesczynski, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 789. 2, Dave Hewitt, Fremont, Calif., 788. 3, Randy Watson, Liberty, Mo., 763. 4 (tie), Joe Conrad, Melrose Park, Ill., and Dan Lyman Jr., Chicago, 761. 6, Gene Bruihl, Petaluma, Calif., 750. 7, Anthony Thompson, Redding, Calif., 748. 8, Jim Carter, Keller, Texas, 745. 9, Lyndon Harrison, Lincoln, Calif., 742. 10, Jordan Schroeder, Ottawa, Ohio, 732.

    1, Dave Hewitt, Fremont, Calif., 2,130. 2, Jim Carter, Keller, Texas, 2,117. 3, Leonard Ruiz, Diamond Bar, Calif., 2,105. 4, Dan Lyman Jr., Chicago, 2,095. 5, Greg Newtson, Medford, Ore., 2,094. 6, Robby Porter, Rancho Cordova, Calif., 2,089. 7, Steve Cook, Granite Bay, Calif., 2,086. 8, Lyndon Harrison, Lincoln, Calif., 2,063. 9, Robert Nielsen, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., 2,061. 10, Aaron Koch, Bel Aire, Kan., 2,046.

    Team All-Events
    1, Champions Bowling (Jason Milligan, Doug Wilcox, Tennelle Milligan, Robby Callan, Robby Porter), Sacramento, Calif., 9,784. 2, Hewitt's Hurlers, Reno, Nev., 9,686. 3, Team 11725, Klamath Falls, Ore., 9,603. 4, Steve Cook's Bowling Supply, Sacramento, Calif., 9,479. 5, Maguire Tile 2, Lowell, Mich., 9,358. 6, Macanudos, Duluth, Ga., 9,354. 7, Breakpoint Pro Shop 1, Fargo, N.D., 9,330. 8, Oxford Motel, Reno, Nev., 9,293. 9, Columbia Action-Packed, South Barrington, Ill., 9,253. 10, Breakpoint Pro Shop 2, Fargo, N.D., 9,252.


    1, Suburban Lanes (Gary Mead, Rodney Blehm, Mike Godfrey, Shane Vanderpool, Dale Vanderpool), Meade, Kan., 2,851. 2, Sandhills Rollers 2, Aberdeen, N.C., 2,735. 3, Double D Statuary, Odem, Texas, 2,699. 4, Rainbow Rollers, McAllen, Texas, 2,697. 5, The Wacouns, Waco, Texas, 2,687. 6, Puppy Trails Kennel, Monroe, La., 2,672. 7, Lavallee Machine, Southbridge, Mass., 2,671. 8, Bayview Bar and Grill 1, Isle, Minn., 2,668. 9, Mitchell Surgical, Mitchell, S.D., 2,659. 10, Sorcerers 1, San Antonio, 2,653.

    1, Kevin Mitchell, Millbrae, Calif./Robert Stephens, San Francisco, 1,214. 2, Ron Hester/Ken Varner, Lexington, N.C., 1,209. 3, Fernando Cahue, Orland Park, Ill./Art Schmitt, Palos Park, Ill., 1,185. 4, Steve Wade, Waco, Texas/Billy Haferkamp, Clifton, Texas, 1,162. 5, Jeremy Hartpence/Steve Wedige, Lincoln, Neb., 1,156. 6, Christopher Koecher, Portland, Texas/John Hammersmith, Horton, Kan., 1,147. 7, Radi Cohanim, Beverly Hills, Calif./Matthew Risch, North Hollywood, Calif., 1,144. 8, Chuck Welle, Hawley, Minn./Caleb Baer, Princeton, Minn., 1,138. 9, Curt Hoffman, Benedict, Neb./Kevin Hoffman, Bradshaw, Neb., 1,123. 10, Chris Milligan, Mansfield, Texas/Ellen Chapman, Denton, Texas, 1,122.

    1, Steve Jacoby, Gowen, Mich., 679. 2, Darlene Baker, Mahomet, Ill., 675. 3, Rand Syverson, Onamia, Minn., 665. 4, Aaron Biagioni, Ottawa, Ill., 661. 5, Tate Ziglar, Lexington, N.C., 654. 6, Billy Haferkamp, Clifton, Texas, 637. 7, Lazarus Aiken, Sioux Falls, S.D., 632. 8, Suzanne Guzik, Cedar Creek, Texas, 628. 9, Michael Bergstrom, El Campo, Texas, 624. 10, Wayne Mayon, Morgan City, La., 619.

    1, Billy Haferkamp, Clifton, Texas, 1,788. 2, Rand Syverson, Onamia, Minn., 1,774. 3, Ken Varner, Lexington, N.C., 1,766. 4, Tate Zigler, Lexington, N.C., 1,765. 5, Ron Hester, Lexington, N.C., 1,764. 6, Lonnie Trevino, McAllen, Texas, 1,748. 7, Gerald Blair Jr., Southbridge, Mass., 1,740. 8, Frank Goff Jr., Kingsville, Texas, 1,735. 9, Jim Breitenbach, Riverhead, N.Y., 1,729. 10, Robert Cerny, Wharton, Texas, 1,728.