By Kevin Albarez
BATON ROUGE, La. - When Jon Benning of Franklin, Wis., walked down Center Aisle at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships for the 20th time, he had no idea about the roller coaster of emotions he was in for.
The 46-year-old right-hander finished his team event Wednesday with 12 consecutive strikes to register the 13th perfect game of the 2012 USBC Open Championships. It was the third 300 during team competition this year at the Baton Rouge River Center.
Benning started with games of 233 and 142 before finding his groove en route to a 675 series. His efforts helped Classic Lanes Menomonee 1 of Menomonee Falls, Wis., to a 2,901 team total. Nicholas J's Pro Shop 2 of La Crosse, Wis., leads Regular Team with 3,401.
"It's defiantly nerve-racking," said Benning, who bowls league at Classic Lanes Menomonee Falls, which is owned by six-time Open Championships titlist and soon-to-be USBC Hall of Famer Gary Daroszewski. "It's an honor to throw it here on such a big stage. I did not realize there were only two other 300s bowled during the team event, and that makes it even more exciting for me."
When Benning and his teammates made their way into the 48-lane venue, they had a plan to work on opening up the lanes. They struggled early but stuck to their plan and set things up for Benning to add his name to the record books.
"We came out here with the mentality we were going to try to work the lanes in," Benning said. "We heard from all the great teams that have been down here, plus the Linds Limited team, who Darryl Traber's brother, Dale, bowls with. We agreed as a team we were going to work the lanes in as a team, even if some of the team members struggled early. We knew the lanes were going to open up later on. They eventually did, and fortunately, it was my time, and I got the right look for the last game."
After starting off on a high note with 233, Benning quickly became disappointed with his second game. His teammates were there to settle him down and keep him focused on the goal they had set.
"The second game, I didn't have a good look," said Benning, who is a sheet metal worker for the Belonger Corporation. "After that game, I was feeling a bit down because it was only in the 140s. We talked about it, and it seemed like the lanes were going through a transition, and we had to bump in, not pitch the ball out too far. My teammates kept me confident and reminded me to keep my speed slow. I got in a grove, and things started to feel really good. Everything worked out real well."
Benning was joined by Michael O'Connell (605), Traber (562), Kevin Muenchow (533) and Rob Frey (526).
Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.