BATON ROUGE, La. - Bill Orlikowski of Grand Rapids, Mich., is fortunate enough to own a title at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships and would be the first to argue that his teammate, Nick Wissinger, is one of the most accomplished bowlers on the tournament lanes without an eagle on his mantle.
Wissinger turned in a career-best performance this week to help his own cause as he led S&B Pro Shop 1 of Clinton Township, Mich., into the top spot in Team All-Events with a 9,954 total at the Baton Rouge River Center on Friday. Lodge Lanes Too of Orlando, Fla., previously held the lead with 9,744.
The 44-year-old right-hander started his 2012 USBC Open Championships campaign with a 169 game but kept his composure and went on to average more than 247 for his remaining eight games. He became the first bowler this year to roll three consecutive 700 series, which included 721 in doubles, 716 in singles and 715 in team for a 2,152 all-events total. He is second behind Ryan Whitney of Lewisville, Texas, who leads Regular All-Events with 2,170.
"In team, we decided to stay out farther, and I just didn't have a good reaction," said Wissinger, who made his 24th Open Championships appearance. "I finally decided to make a jump inside, and there it was. Of course I wish I would've made the adjustment and moved sooner, but anytime you shoot 2,100 here, you have to feel pretty good. I had a good ball reaction for two days, outside of the first game, and you can't ask for much more than that."
Wissinger closed out his team event with games of 268 and 278 and helped S&B Pro Shop 1 into second place in Regular Team with a 3,277 total and carried that momentum into doubles and singles. Nicholas J's Pro Shop 2 of La Crosse, Wis., leads the team event with 3,401.
"It seems like every year for doubles and singles, we run out of room because we're so deep and feel like there's nowhere left to go, but this year, I didn't feel that at all," Wissinger said. "My A game is inside, and I felt pretty comfortable all day. I didn't even move my feet much at all today. I just tweaked my hand position and rev rate, and I was able to keep throwing strikes."
Dave Ewald added a 2,049 all-events total for S&B Pro Shop 1 and was followed by Orlikowski (2,038), Kerry Kreft (1,900) and Mark Moore (1,815). All four bowlers, along with three members of their companion team, S&B Pro Shop 2, are title holders at the Open Championships, and they'd love to see Wissinger's name on the scoreboard with an eagle next to it, too.
Ewald, Kreft and Moore claimed the 2004 Regular Team title with S&B Pro Shop 2's Fred Bauss and Joe Krajenke, while Orlikowski and Kreft, along with companion team member Jay Lang, were Team All-Events champions in 1999. Lang also is a 1997 Regular Team winner.
"By far, over a career, Nick is one of the most accomplished guys on the team, and for him not to have an eagle is tough to see," Orlikowski said of Wissinger, who is ninth among the tournament average leaders (213.9) with 20 or more years of participation.
"He's bowled with a lot of great teams and bowlers and has been really close before, but it just hasn't happened yet. It's definitely something that would be a huge monkey off of his back."
Wissinger and Ewald also left Baton Rouge in sixth place in Regular Doubles with 1,389, while Orlikowski moved into a tie for ninth place in Regular Singles with 742. S&B Pro Shop 2 shot 3,023 in team, which is 41st overall, and did not crack the leaderboard in Team All-Events.
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.