Collegiate bowler rolls first 800 of 2014 USBC Open Championships

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USBC Open Championships Graham Fach Bowls A Perfect Game

RENO, Nev. – From the time his flight landed in Reno on Tuesday morning, Graham Fach of Urbana, Ohio, was on the move, and that included a quick stop at his hotel, a to-go order at Denny’s, a quick march down Center Aisle at the National Bowling Stadium and a record-performance at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.

The 22-year-old left-hander barely had time to look around and admire the grandeur of the NBS before hitting the lanes at the one-of-a-kind venue for the first time, and three hours later, he polished off the ninth perfect game and first 800 series of the 2014 event.

Fach rolled games of 290, 246 and 300 for an 836 series and helped Donovan’s Bunch of Painted Post, N.Y., to games of 1,223, 1,116 and 1,212 for a 3,551 team total, the second-highest score in 111 years of USBC Open Championships history. Motion Plus Lanes of Cudahy, Wis., leads Regular Team this year with a record score of 3,561.

Handling The Nerves Bowling

“My first shot was a split, and there were some butterflies early on,” said Fach, a past member of Team Canada, who started his Open Championships career with a six-count split before striking on 31 of his next 34 shots. “I was definitely feeling the nerves in the 10th frame. I was trying to slow down, create a good tempo and keep the rhythm.”

When he stepped up in the final frame, Fach not only had the pressure of trying to become the 34th bowler in history with a 300 and 800 on the championship lanes, he also needed all three strikes to keep his team in contention for the lead.

After he delivered, the pressure fell on former Junior Team USA member and collegiate All-American, Chris Via, who could’ve struck out to break the record by a single pin. Via struck on his first shot but left a 2 pin on his second offering.

“Chris threw great shots all day,” Fach said. “As a team, we bowled fantastic – a lot better than we could’ve thought when we came out to bowl. The fact that we were this close, just feels amazing.”

Four of the five team members were Open Championships first-timers, in town to compete in the XBowling Intercollegiate Singles and Team Championships, but hoping to have some fun and competitive practice, too.

James Tucker, who bowls with Fach at Urbana University, added a 757 series for Donovan’s Bunch and was followed by Notre Dame-Ohio’s Via (755) and Kevin Donovan (642) and Donovan’s father, Mike, a 17-time tournament participant (561).

“I’ve been anchoring the college team for four years now, so I’ve definitely been in that situation before,” Via said. “The first shot was really good, but on the second shot, I just got fast and missed right a little bit. I’m definitely still happy with the score we put up here.”

Minutes after nearly making history in their tournament debut, the group hustled across town to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center for the Night of Champions banquet celebrating the 2013-14 USBC Collegiate bowling season.

Fach and Tucker both will be competing in the Intercollegiate Team Championships this week, while Via is one of four semi-finalists still in contention at the Intercollegiate Singles Championships. Both events will wrap up Friday with the final rounds being taped for broadcast on CBS Sports Network in May.

“This is incredible,” Via said. “We kind of threw this team together at the last minute with college nationals being out here. We scrambled some guys together just to get a team in. We just wanted to have some fun, but to put up a big number – it was a lot of fun.”

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.

By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor

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