Just returned from my first USBC Open Championships experience in Reno, Nevada. Every year that they announce the event will return to Reno, people complain. Reno sucks, Reno smells, blah blah blah. Before this year, I had never been to Reno to experience for myself what everyone loathed about the biggest little city in the world. All I had to go on was what I have heard and I have got to say, I really enjoyed Reno. Yes, there were homeless people. And yes, it was a little creepy but it was no different than any other downtown area.
The Reno hotels provided free transportation to the Grand Sierra, where the BTM side event was, as well as the airport, and to the convention center where the Women’s Championship takes place. The shuttle drivers could not have been more pleasant, and were genuinely interested in how our trip had been going. I personally love the venue of the stadium and walking out to the music. I think they do a great job and I can’t wait to return to Reno!
As for the bowling, I had bowled a few squads of the Bowler’s Journal while the Robert Morris University teams were in Reno for the Intercollegiate Team Championship back in April. However, I did not feel that I had the right equipment with me at all. As a result, I bowled poorly in both squads, with a total pin fall of about 630ish for each. I got a chance to bowl a squad of the Bowlers Journal with Team NABR (National Amateur Bowler Rankings), which consisted of Rob Gotchall, Adam Barta, Scott Pohl, Brian Waliczek, and Mike Rose. All fantastic bowlers, who have bowled the Open Championships many times and were familiar with the right equipment to bring for the tournament. Brian Waliczek bowled 760-770ish throwing a Roto Grip Totally Defiant for all 3 games. As soon as I went home I drilled a Totally Defiant specifically for the Bowlers Journal.
Upon arriving to Reno for my Open Championships debut, we checked into the hotel and went straight to the Stadium to bowl a squad of the Bowlers Journal. As I was hoping, the Totally Defiant looked fantastic! Game 1, I started with the first 7 strikes and 264. Then we went to the left end pair (69-70) and they hooked quite a bit more for me. I think at the end of the game I was 8 boards with my feet and 4 boards with my eyes further left, and had balled all the way down to a Roto Grip Uproar. I threw the last 4 or 5 strikes that game for 207. Then we moved to the next pair and the first shots I saw thrown on the pair went considerably straighter than the previous pair. I decided to go back to the Roto Grip Totally Defiant, and adjusted 4 boards with my feet and 2 boards with my eyes left of where I had finished the first game. I went on to shoot 268 the last game for a total of 739.
The next day I tried my luck at the Bowling This Month side event at the Grand Sierra Resort with AJ Johnson, Jackie Carbonetto, Brittni Hamilton, and Anggie Ramirez. The first squad we bowled we started on a pair that didn’t hook at all downlane. We all struggled the first game but found ball reaction in games 2 and 3. The girls decided to head back to the stadium to bowl a squad of the Bowlers Journal, while AJ and I stayed because we thought we had found great ball reaction. We were right. We ended up bowling 1357 for doubles, which put us in 5th place, 13 pins away from the lead. I missed 2 single pins the last game for 180. If I had made those two single pins, that would have put us in the lead. And boy, did I feel terrible about it! I used a Marvel Pearl the whole time in the BTM and my singles score was about 10th when I left.
Finally, it was time to bowl the team event! I hadn’t been this nervous in a long time. Lots of expectations for our team, and bowling in that venue for the first time was very weird for me. The ceilings are so high and the lanes felt a mile long. It felt like I was sliding for forever in my approach. The Bowlers Journal on the high end of the stadium wasn’t that bad because there are walls to your left and right, and it feels smaller. I really struggled to keep my legs under me the first game. I think everyone had a little bit of the jitters. After the first game we got everything together and absolutely smashed the pocket for two games and only got about +130 out of it as a team. I’ve never seen so many messengers miss 10 pins! Just was one of those days. Our team finished with 3,188.
Singles and doubles was live streamed. If you have any interest of watching the archived stream CLICK HERE. Thank you Matt Cannizzaro and the BowlTV crew for the awesome coverage! I started with a pin up Roto Grip Rumble, and it looked great on the right lane! I don’t think I missed while I was throwing it. The left lane was a different story. I don’t think I missed the pocket but I didn’t strike once. I didn’t want to move left or switch balls because that was the only ball giving me the right shape from that far right. And it was important to stay right to let the lane develop as we had to bowl 6 games on it. With our rev rates we could have easily made that pair awful but instead we worked together and made the pair absolutely fantastic for ourselves. I started doubles with a pin up Roto Grip Rumble, and bowled a clean 219 the first game. I switched to a pin down Storm IQ Tour Solid, as I moved left into all the shim we created and bowled a clean 239 the second game. The last game I should have switched to my Storm Marvel Pearl but decided to wait until the fill ball to do so. And unfortunately, it bit me in the butt. I bowled 191 the last game of doubles, and switched to the Storm Marvel Pearl on the fill and struck…it was definitely the right ball. I started singles with the front 9 and should have moved in the 8th or 9th frames, as the ball started to come off of it slower and slower as the game went on. Finally, the first ball in the 10th didn’t make it up the hill, and I 2 pinned for 278. AJ had 277 that game also and he did the same thing I did by waiting until the fill frame the game before to switch balls to a Storm Byte. After doing the math when we finished, had we switched balls the game before when we felt it, we would have taken the doubles lead. The next game was an uphill battle with carry again, but I got 218 out of it. I thought I finally figured out the pair again as I started game 3 with the front 6, and then the pair completely blew up. I couldn’t stay where I was because it would see the friction too quickly, but I couldn’t move left because it would go 60 ft. I didn’t hit the pocket the rest of the game but stayed as clean as I could and got 230 out of it for 726 in singles. Looking back I probably should have balled up to my Totally Defiant and moved left into the shim. However, in the heat of the moment I didn’t really know what to do and couldn’t ask my teammates because it seemed to blow up for all of us at the same time.
Overall, I had 2024 for all events and a blast at my first OC! If I had to give advice to anyone going out there it would definitely be to WORK TOGETHER!!! This is a TEAM event and you need to make the pairs nice for yourselves. You may have to give up a few pins in game 1 of an event and stay right to let the lane develop so you can maul them later. I am looking forward to growing old, bowling with this group of guys!! What fun…
Here are some pictures of the balls I used during the events!! (similar, I know LOL) For whatever reason the picture of the IQ Tour Solid will not upload. The layout is pin below my ring with a 30 degree shift of the CG and a weight hole 3″ straight across from the center of my thumb (27 bit 2″ deep)