The group won Team All-Events at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, in 2013 and again last year in El Paso, Texas, and is looking to become the first team since 1998 to successfully defend the title.
This year’s performance was well short of the team’s average the last three years, but the 9,672 effort was enough to sneak past Wickliffe Lanes of Mentor, Ohio, which previously held the lead with 9,598.
“With as hard as they were in team, and how things started today, I’m really happy with how we grinded and how things turned out,” said team captain Erik Vermilyea, who made his 12th USBC Open Championships appearance and was able to maintain his 222 tournament average.
“When it’s going well, it’s easy to put something together. This year, we really worked at it, and I’m proud of how we fought through it and still put up a decent number.”
Steve Novak led the way for Junior Team USA Support 1 this year with a 2,019 all-events total and was followed by Vermilyea (1,988), Matthew Tuckfield (1,961), 2014 Regular All-Events winner Anthony LaCaze (1,942) and left-hander Jeffrey Mersch (1,762).
LaCaze is looking to become the first bowler in tournament history to win a title in four consecutive years. He now shares the record with USBC Hall of Famer Les Zikes of Palatine, Illinois, who had wins in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
Junior Team USA Support 1, which finished second in the team event last year, also made a run at the lead in Regular Team on April 2, before settling into third place with a 3,167 total on games of 1,069, 1,087 and 1,011.
Eddie Byrd, a 42-year-old right-hander, rolled the highest individual series in team competition this year at the USBC Open Championships and helped Who’s Eddie Byrd? of Fort Worth, Texas, into the top spot in Regular Team.
Byrd shot 214, 247 and 288 for a 749 series and helped the team to games of 1,083, 1,028 and 1,130 for a 3,241 total. Wickliffe Lanes of Mentor, Ohio, previously held the lead with 3,202.
The star-studded performance for Who’s Eddie Byrd? also featured Brett Sterley (671), senior standout and the lone left-hander of the two-team group Jim Stephens (617), USBC Hall of Famer Lynda Barnes (604) and 2015 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Rookie of the Year Stefanie Johnson (600).
The other half of the group also bowled well as two-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour champion Lonnie Waliczek tossed a 649 set to lead Fort Worth’s Over The Hill into the top 10 with a 3,132 total. The team now is sixth overall.
Waliczek was followed by 2004 PBA Rookie of the Year Chris Johnson (643), 1999 PBA Rookie of the Year Paul Fleming (628), three-time PBA Tour champion Justin Hromek (608) and USBC Hall of Famer Rick Steelsmith (604).
Both teams also are among the top 10 in Team All-Events, with Over The Hill in fifth place with 9,334 and Who’s Eddie Byrd? in 10th with 9,185.
Ed Gagnon of Swansea, Massachusetts, celebrated 50 years of USBC Open Championships participation March 30 at the National Bowling Stadium.
The 68-year-old left-hander got his Open Championships start like so many others – he was invited along by a fellow league bowler. That was for the 1966 event in Rochester, New York, and the experience was memorable enough for him to plan a return visit the next year.
Success at the 1967 tournament in Miami Beach, Florida, and the opportunity to see his name atop the leaderboard before an eventual 21st-place finish in Regular Singles, ensured Gagnon’s commitment to the world’s largest participatory sporting event.
This year on the championship lanes, Gagnon shot 590 in singles, 571 in team and 466 in doubles for a 1,627 all-events total. In 50 tournament appearances, he has knocked down 81,345 pins for a 189.6 career average.
On April 4, Sterling Minke Sr. of Englewood, Florida, added his name to the list of bowlers who have made 55 tournament appearances. He was escorted down Center Aisle by his sons, Shawn and Sterling Jr., who have 31 and 30 consecutive appearances, respectively, for a family total of 116 years.
There will be one BowlTV broadcast this week from the USBC Open Championships as Joe Conti Jr. of Liverpool, New York, the Open Singles winner at the 2009 Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC, and Derek Magno of Cicero, New York, hit the lanes at the National Bowling Stadium.
The two finished tied for third in Regular Doubles at the 2013 Open Championships, also at the NBS. The broadcast will include Dean Distin and Mike Tryniski of Fulton, New York, both 1994 Regular Doubles and Team All-Events winners.
A few bowlers will celebrate milestones this week at the Open Championships, too.
Nolan Harlamert of Dayton, Ohio (April 8 at 5 p.m.) and Bob Martin of San Antonio (April 11 at 5 p.m.) each will reach 55 years of participation, while Frankie May Jr. of Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, joins the 50-Year Club on April 11 at 5 p.m. All times Pacific.
For more information on the Open Championships, click here.
First-timer David Hjelm leads two events
Ohio bowler Jack Glick celebrates 50 years
Sylvester Thiel ties participation record with 71st appearance
Ohio teammates lead every event at USBC Open Championships
2016 USBC Open Championships gets going in Reno
Top 10 division leaders with hometown and pinfall
1, Who’s Eddie Byrd?, (Stefanie Johnson, Eddie Byrd, James Stephens, Lynda Barnes, Brett Sterley), Fort Worth, Texas, 3,241. 2, Wickliffe Lanes, Mentor, Ohio, 3,202. 3, Junior Team USA Support 1, Mansfield, Texas, 3,167. 4, Eagle Taxidermy, Vancouver, Wash., 3,155. 5, Towne & Country Lanes 1, Hartland, Wis., 3,135. 6, Over the Hill, Fort Worth, Texas, 3,132. 7, 5 ICT Bowlers, Johnston, Iowa, 3,128. 8, ND Roto Grip, Mandan, N.D., 3,072. 9, Taylorville Bowling Foundation, Taylorville, Ill., 3,071. 10, Bud Light, Sheboygan, Wis., 3,039.
1, Matthew Zitnik, Mayfield Heights, Ohio/Jason Bowles, Euclid, Ohio, 1,341. 2, Kevin Tatrow, Bel Aire, Kan./Will Barnes, Austin, Texas, 1,335. 3, Scott Honeysett/Michael Bradfield, Lansing, Mich., 1,334. 4, Jay Nephew, Houston/Robert Raymond, Pflugerville, Texas, 1,328. 5, Donnie Allen III, Vancouver, Wash./Lucas Stone, Beaverton, Ore., 1,320. 6, Dan Peters/Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 1,306. 7, Theo Shipp, Grandview, Mo./Michael Haggitt, Dayton, Ohio, 1,295. 8, Dan Guerrieri, Boardman, Ohio/Joseph Nuzzo, Girard, Ohio, 1,293. 9, Robert Milbrath, Hartland, Wis./Tim Ruelle, Racine, Wis., 1,268. 10, Paul Fleming, Fort Worth, Texas/Rick Steelsmith, Wichita, Kan., 1,267.
1, Robert J. Bures, Painesville, Ohio, 815. 2, Matt Smallin, Glenburn, N.D., 785. 3, Camden Rokita, Springfield, Ill., 779. 4, Will Barnes, Austin, Texas, 764. 5, Tyler Wilds, Three Rivers, Mich., 759. 6, Matthew Tuckfield, Orlando, Fla., 745. 7, Jerry Rapp, Grand Island, Neb., 744. 8, Jerad Schmitt, Fargo, N.D., 729. 9, Steve Novak, Bay City, Mich., 719. 10, Anthony LaCaze, Hoffman Estates, Ill., 712.
1, Robert J. Bures, Painesville, Ohio, 2,122. 2, Matt Smallin, Glenburn, N.D., 2,060. 3, Camden Rokita, Springfield, Ill., 2,055. 4, Jason Bowles, Euclid, Ohio, 2,042. 5, Will Barnes, Austin, Texas, 2,023. 6, Tyler Wilds, Three Rivers, Mich., 2,021. 7, Steve Novak, Bay City, Mich., 2,019. 8, Donnie Allen III, Vancouver, Wash., 2,003. 9, Michael Runk, New Cumberland, Pa., 1,996. 10, Sean Mason, Mitchell, S.D., 1,989.
1, Junior Team USA Support 1 (Matthew Tuckfield, Anthony LaCaze, Steve Novak, Jeffrey Mersch, Erik Vermilyea), Eagan, Minn., 9,672. 2, Wickliffe Lanes, Mentor, Ohio, 9,598. 3, 5 ICT Bowlers, Johnston, Iowa, 9,488. 4, ND Roto Grip, Mandan, N.D., 9,461. 5, Over The Hill, Fort Worth, Texas, 9,334. 6, Towne & Country Lanes 1, Hartland, Wis., 9,330. 7, Eagle Taxidermy, Vancouver, Wash., 9,254. 8, A & J Bowling Suppliers, Three Rivers, Mich., 9,246. 9, Taylorville Bowling Foundation, Taylorville, Ill., 9,230. 10, Who’s Eddie Byrd?, Fort Worth, Texas, 9,185.
Top 10 division leaders with hometown and pinfall
1, T-Rays (Jim Ryan, Kevin O’Meara, Michael Kvislen, Terry Wibstad, Terry Gruchalla), Jamestown, N.D., 2,607. 2, Plato Woodwork 1, Gaylord, Minn., 2,531. 3, Malad Gun Club, Malad City, Idaho, 2,529. 4, Beloit Bombers, Beloit, Kan., 2,511. 5, Oakridge Farms, Frazee, Minn., 2,509. 6, Burnside Lobster Farms, New Effington, S.D., 2,503. 7, Rails Bar and Grill, Eagle Grove, Iowa, 2,499. 8, Shoreline Shredders, Battle Lake, Minn., 2,491. 9, Russell Ho Ohana 2, Honolulu, 2,483. 10, First Northern Bank, Buffalo, Wyo., 2,474.
1, David Hjelm, Wheaton, Minn./Gary Sundby Jr., Dalton, Minn., 1,155. 2, Eric Douglass, Goldfield, Iowa/Mike Thielen, Eagle Grove, Iowa, 1,147. 3, Randy Robinson/Crystal Forkner, Higginsville, Mo., 1,118. 4, Kathy Yourkavitch/Jerome Jackson, Kutztown, Penn., 1,117. 5, Mandy Quaas, Hutchinson, Minn./Jeremy Quaas, New Hope, Minn., 1,111. 6, Chris Witthus/Robert Kaytor, Glencoe, Minn., 1,096. 7, Dee Maccario, Farmington, Conn./Mark Baranski, Newington, Conn., 1,094. 8, Christopher Petrie, Joshua Tree, Calif./Keith Petrie, Long Prairie, Minn., 1, 091. 9, Jim Hadd/Fred Hadd, Rapid City, S.D., 1,089. 10, Karl Trampusch, Long Prairie, Minn./Darren Horton, Wadena, Minn., 1,088.
1, David Kettell, Lindenhurst, N.Y., 644. 2, Allan Johnson, Hawley, Minn., 627. 3, Troy Schultz, Clarion, Iowa, 602. 4, Greg Kokanour, Highland, Calif., 595. 5, Roger Porto, Kerman, Calif., 590. 6, Maniram Basdeo, Bronx, N.Y., 588. 7(tie) David Hjelm, Wheaton, Minn., and Wayne Sakai, Lodi, Calif., 587. 9, Christopher Petrie, Joshua Tree, Calif., 585. 10, Michael Raburn, Cleveland, Tenn., 578.
1, David Hjelm, Wheaton, Minn., 1,713. 2, Eric Douglass, Goldfield, Iowa, 1,671. 3, David Kettell, Lindenhurst, N.Y., 1,661. 4, Michael Booker, Eagle Bend, Minn., 1,657. 5, Gary Sundby Jr., Dalton, Minn., 1,653. 6, Roger Porto, Kerman, Calif., 1,634. 7, Troy Schultz, Clarion, Iowa, 1,631. 8, Greg Mickelson, Frazee, Minn., 1,627. 9, Cheryl Newman, Bedford, Texas, 1,624. 10, Greg Kokanour, Highland, Calif., 1,612.
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