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Minnesota team sneaks into lead at 2014 USBC Open

Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications
Published: March 24, 2014 | Bowl.com
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RENO, Nev. - The luck of the draw determined the lineup for Oakridge Farms of Frazee, Minn., at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and fate was on the team's side Monday as it edged into the lead in Classified Team by a single pin.

Oakridge Farms got stronger each game at the National Bowling Stadium, rolling 858, 911 and 941 for a 2,710 series to sneak past Storm Construction of Mazeppa, Minn., which posted a 2,709 total on March 1.

Mark Bylander led the way for Oakridge Farms with a 637 set, which included a 264 finale. He was joined by Greg Mickelson (551), Jerry Kemper (544), Allan Wendt (525) and Jon Smith (453).

"We just wanted to keep filling frames and making our spares," said Mickelson, who made his 31st USBC Open Championships appearance. "We hoped someone would get some strikes going, and we got lucky that Mark got going the last game and got a bunch in a row. That pulled us through."

Oakridge Farms brought six bowlers to the NBS this week, but knew only five could compete on the main team. The group drew cards to determine who would make the team and who would be looking to join another team as a substitute. Mark Kemper ended up being the odd man out but found a team to join during the same squad.

"We had six guys along and ended up having to draw cards for one guy to bowl on another team," Mickelson said. "Mark was the unlucky one, but we were lucky to find another team for him."

Although the team was surprised to hear its score was enough for the lead, the teammates will enjoy their time at the top and hope it holds until the 2014 Open Championships concludes on July 13.

"It was very surprising," Mickelson said. "I didn't know what the top score was. We just come and bowl every year hoping to do good. This is our getaway for the year, and we have fun doing it. It feels great right now. We wish it would hold up but don't expect it to. I just hope we stay in the top three or so."

In order to be eligible for the Classified Division, teams must have a combined average of 900 or below.

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