North Dakota bowler back on top at 2016 USBC Open

Matt Cannizzaro
USBC Communications
Published: March 14, 2016 |
RENO, Nev. – Matt Smallin of Glenburn, North Dakota, quickly is earning a reputation as one of the most consistent performers at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and he turned in another memorable performance Monday at the National Bowling Stadium.

The 28-year-old right-hander used subtle adjustments in speed to combat the event’s challenging 39-foot doubles and singles lane condition, and that helped him leave with the lead in Regular All-Events for the second consecutive year. He also was able to one-up last year’s effort by grabbing the top spot in Regular Singles, too, using the same ball he used for a 299 game during the team event in 2015.

Smallin closed his seventh USBC Open Championships appearance with games of 258, 259 and 268 for a 785 singles series and 2,060 all-events total. He added 679 in team and 596 in doubles to come within two pins of last year’s career-best 2,062 effort, which tied for 13th overall.

Just two days ago, Will Barnes of Austin, Texas, set the pace in the Regular Division and left Reno as the leader in every event. He had 764 in singles on the way to a 2,023 all-events total, which Smallin surpassed, but Barnes and his 5 ICT Bowlers teammates still lead Regular Team (3,128), Regular Doubles (1,335 with Kevin Tatrow) and Team All-Events (9,488).

“It feels pretty good to be leading two events, but I would’ve loved to strike on the second shot in the 10th to get ahead of Ronnie’s (Sparks Jr.) winning score from last year (793),” said Smallin, who left a 9 pin on the second shot of his final frame to end a string of eight consecutive strikes. “I’m happy, though. I made the right adjustments, and it’s nice to leave in this position for the second year in a row.”

Smallin and his teammates struggled early in doubles, but they expected the fresh lane condition to pose a challenge. They planned to attack it together, and patiently, the latter something Smallin admits he still needs to work on a little bit.

After starting with games of 208 and 161, everything fell into place for Smallin, who tossed six consecutive strikes in the middle of the doubles finale to finish with 227 and a comfortable look heading into singles.

“Early on, you get hang to the right and hook to the left, so you really have to grind through the first two games of doubles,” said Smallin, who recently welcomed a son with his wife, Jennifer. “We did go in with a strategy, and we hoped they’d get nice, and they did. I made a small speed adjustment and threw it a little faster the last game of doubles, then I was able to move left and soften up just a little in singles.”

Smallin’s performance at the NBS this week also helped ND Roto Grip of Mandan, North Dakota, into second place in both Regular Team (3,072) and Team All-Events (9,461).

He was joined in the effort by Ryan Selk (1,863), Justin Coste (1,859), Jerad Schmitt (1,858) and Travis Hersrud (1,821). Schmitt is third in Regular Singles with 729.

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