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Wisconsin team leads two events at USBC Open

Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications
Published: March 17, 2014 | Bowl.com
RENO, Nev. - It didn't take Towne & Country Lanes 1 of Hartland, Wis., long to get on the radar at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and the team has improved its place in the standings in each of its three years together. 

After taking the Regular Team lead at the National Bowling Stadium on Sunday, the group returned to the championship lanes Monday and claimed the top spot in Team All-Events for the second consecutive year.

Dave Gajewski of Oak Creek, Wis., led the way with a 2,032 all-events total and was followed by Matt Zagar (1,994), Jerry Riemer (1,982), Robert Milbrath (1,913) and Tony Buss (1,835) for a 9,756 total. Union County 4 of Roselle Park, N.J., previously held the lead with 9,178.

"Today was all about communication," said Milbrath, who made his 18th tournament appearance and served as the captain for Towne & Country Lanes 1. "We were trying to play the lanes right and be patient. We hit a bit of rough patch at the start, but we worked through it and had a really good look at the end of doubles and into singles."

TowneCountryLanes1_465x262Towne & Country Lanes 1 has been working hard to establish itself as one of the premier teams at the tournament, but the teammates admit it's still a work in progress.

"I think as a whole, our spare shooting has started to improve, but that's still one area we need to work on," Gajewski said. "But we can strike with the best of them. Since Tony and I have moved to this team, we've had nothing but success, and we're happy to be a part of Towne & Country Lanes."

The group flirted with the Regular Team lead at the NBS last year, but came up short after a final-frame battle with another team on the same squad. This time, they took control of the spotlight and cruised into the top spot with games of 1,108, 1,154 and 1,049 for a 3,311 total.

Zagar, a 49-year-old right-hander, set the pace as the leadoff bowler for Towne & Country Lanes 1 and posted games of 254, 267 and 213 for a 734 set. He was joined by Riemer (686), Gajewski (664), Buss (615) and Milbrath (612). Coach's Corner 1 of Lafayette, Colo., previously held the lead with 3,236.

"I think we played the lanes well," said Zagar, who rolled a perfect game at the 2002 USBC Open Championships in Billings, Mont. "The last game caught us a bit, and we had to fight through a little transition. The eighth, ninth and 10th frames were huge for us. One good thing about this team is that we have a lot of character and heart, and that takes us a long way."

Towne & Country Lanes 1 entered the 2013 Open Championships with its sights set on cracking the top 50 in the team event and accomplished that, finishing tied for 45th. Just missing the lead in team only motivated the teammates during doubles and singles, where they continued striking and took the Team All-Events lead by more than 300 pins, eventually finishing 28th.

Prior to this year's event, the group practiced on the tournament's team condition, but the experience gained from their past success on the championship lanes is what proved to be priceless.

"We practiced on the pattern a few times," said Zagar, who made his 23rd tournament appearance. "But I think last year's experience helped us tremendously. We played the right part of the lane, broke them down and fought through the transition. Hopefully we can learn from this and just keep getting better and better."

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