Wisconsin team challenges record at 2014 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Tim Damerow of Waupun, Wis., did exactly what an anchor bowler is supposed to do as he delivered three strikes in his final frame to cap off the fourth perfect game of the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships and lift his team into the lead at the National Bowling Stadium on Thursday.

The 46-year-old right-hander helped Janz's H. I. of Beaver Dam, Wis., to games of 1,081, 1,200 and 1,218 for a 3,499 total, which is tied for the seventh-highest score in 111 years of USBC Open Championships competition. Storm Products Inc. of Brigham City, Utah, previously held the lead this year with 3,341.

"I just tried to make it one shot at a time, that's all I was thinking," said Damerow, who made his seventh Open Championships appearance. "(Shooting 300) is one thing I've dreamt of since I've started coming here. It's a dream come true. I never expected it."

Damerow added games of 243 and 235 for a 778 series and was followed by Andy Bunkoske (718), Randy Hupf (716), Joe Janz (648) and Tim Janz (639).

"We tried to start to the right to cut in a shot for us," Damerow said. "We moved accordingly, and it worked out perfect."

Last year at the NBS, a record 20 teams cracked the 3,400 mark, including 2013 Regular Team champion Lodge Lanes Too of Orlando, Fla., with a 3,538 total, the highest score in tournament history. John Gaines, a member of the 2014 USBC Hall of Fame Class, helped his team break the 20-year-old record of 3,537, held by Bruegger's Bagels of Albany, N.Y.

Janz's H. I. had that number in sight with two frames to go but faltered slightly as Damerow delivered the only strike in the ninth frame. Hupf also started the final game with eight consecutive strikes before leaving the 3-6 combination.

The group bounced back in the final frame with four of the five players throwing three strikes to put them back in a familiar position at the Open Championships.

Janz's H. I. finished in the top 60 four consecutive times from 2008-2011, including a sixth-place effort at the NBS in 2011. That year, they also rolled the first 3,400 of the event (3,407) but held the lead for just three days.

"Last time we were in this position, we shot 3,400 and thought at the time that was huge," said Hupf, who made his 14th trip down Center Aisle. "To come back with 3,499 was great bowling on everybody's part."

Now, the wait begins to see if this year's score is high enough to hold on until the 2014 Open Championships concludes July 13. Either way, the team continues to learn from each experience and work together to improve each time they're on the big stage.

"It goes back to the team," Hupf said. "It gets nerve-racking at the end. We try to settle each other down and make good shots. It's awesome."

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