Injury can't stop Texas bowler at 2014 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - William Hawkins of Houston was in such pain after his first game of singles at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships that he considered dropping out.

Instead, the 51-year-old right-hander decided to shorten his approach and fight through the excruciating knee pain, and his perseverance paid off as he moved into the Classified Singles lead with a 669 series at the National Bowling Stadium on Friday. Kent Delaney of Webster, S.D., previously held the lead with 616.

"I felt a pop during the first game of singles, so I shortened my approach, and it helped," said Hawkins, who rolled games of 167, 247 and 255 in singles. "I've never been a quitter. I came here to bowl, so I kept going."

Hawkins had his left knee replaced in August, but an infection set in, forcing another procedure in December to put in an antibiotic spacer. He's essentially working with half a knee until the infection subsides and they can go back in and fully replace everything. He also had his right knee replaced a few years ago.

While preparing for this year's visit to Reno, his second tournament appearance, Hawkins further injured his knee and almost didn't make the trip.

"I hyperextended it while trying to come back and get into the groove of things, and I almost passed out from the pain," said Hawkins, who made his tournament debut at the NBS last year. "I always wanted to come, but I wasn't sure if I'd physically be able to. I didn't want to hurt the team."

While his preparation only included one league session each week, his progress was steady. The first week back, he rolled a 300 series. His second week, he was in the 400s. In his third week back on the lanes, he broke 500 and joked that he would be warmed up just in time for the Open Championships.

Hawkins and his teammates are Shriners, and their philanthropic responsibilities, including their upcoming Shrine circus, will keep them distracted from the leaderboards at the 2014 Open Championships, which will run until July 13.

To be eligible for the Classified Division, a competitor must have an entering average of 180 or below.

Hawkins added a 572 series in team and 493 in doubles for a 1,734 all-events total. He is second in Classified All-Events behind Mark Bylander of Vergas, Minn., who leads with 1,761.

Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Open/Women's Championships page.

Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.