RENO, Nev. - Many bowlers walk away from their first United States Bowling Congress Open Championships appearances in awe of the one-of-a-kind setting and with a new appreciation for the sport and tournament tradition.
Ryan Peterson of Story City, Iowa, left his first USBC Open Championships at the National Bowling Stadium with a little more as he saw his name at the top of the leaderboard Thursday.
The 31-year-old right-hander rolled games of 211, 193 and 236 to take the lead in Classified Singles with a 640 series, surpassing the 631 posted by James Kennedy of Plattsburg, Mo., on March 3.
Prior to his debut, Peterson was briefed by several of his teammates about the tournament experience but still was nervous during his team event. He finally was able to settle down during doubles and singles and get into a familiar rhythm.
"It's definitely a little overwhelming at first," said Peterson, who bowls regularly at Carousel Lanes. "The first day was rough. Once I got more comfortable with the lanes and got over the jitters I had, I was able to just bowl my natural game and throw the ball like I'm used to."
Peterson was asked to join a team after he began competing in local tournaments. After experiencing the world's largest participatory sporting event and being exposed to the 78-lane NBS, he hopes to make the Open Championships a yearly tradition.
"I ended up bowling in some of the area tournaments," said Peterson, who works as an auto body technician. "A bunch of the guys have been coming here for a while, and they wanted me and one of my other friends to join the team. I have enjoyed it and definitely hope to come back next year. It would be a great experience for anyone who has never been here."
Coming into the 2013 event, Peterson set a goal of reaching a 600 series in at least one event. After a 536 doubles set and 455 in team, he reached his goal and put himself in position to claim a title in his Open Championships debut. He finished with a 1,631 all-events total, which is just outside the top 10.
"I was hoping to shoot a 600 series in one of the sets we bowled, and I finally got it done in singles," Peterson said. "It would mean a lot to bring it back home."
In Classified Doubles on Thursday, Tom Musante of San Mateo, Calif., and Ryan Riewer of Fargo, N.D., found their way to the top of the standings with a 1,150 total, breaking a longtime tie for the lead at 1,134.
Musante led the way with a 593 series and attributed their success to teamwork and communication, two things he learned while watching the live stream broadcasts from the 2013 Open Championships.
"I'm known as the information guy for our group, and I've really been paying attention to what the coaches are saying during the live streams," said Musante, a 35-year-old right-hander and eight-time Open Championships participant. "The good information and good chemistry really helped us. I had a feeling we were around the low to cash, but I had no idea we were doing that well."
Riewer, who's only other trip to the tournament came in 2009, returned this year as a last-minute substitute and contributed a 557 series to the doubles effort. He was inspired by the champion banners hanging above their lanes at the National Bowling Stadium.
"When I first came in, I was looking at the banners and thought it would be really cool to do," said Riewer, a 28-year-old right-hander who bowls league at All Star Bowl in Moorhead, Minn. "I never imagined we'd really have a chance to do it. This is really exciting."
Musante added 493 in team and 410 in singles for 1,496 all-events total, while Riewer had 449 in team and 393 in singles for 1,399.
Presenting sponsors for the 2013 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.