First-timer takes singles lead at 2014 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - First-time United States Bowling Congress Open Championships participant Justin Ziegler of Corona, Calif., put together a dramatic final frame at the National Bowling Stadium to secure the Regular Singles lead by a single pin Sunday.

The 29-year-old right-hander rolled games of 289, 257 and 238 for a 784 series to edge by previous leader Terrence Blevins of Chicago, who shot 783 on March 8.

Ziegler had the chance to post the first 800 series of the 2014 USBC Open Championships, and first in singles competition since the 2012 tournament in Baton Rouge, La., with two strikes and a six count in his final frame. He left the 3-6-10 combination on his first shot, which forced him to convert the spare and strike on the fill ball to take the lead by one.

After making the spare, Ziegler's final delivery went high, leaving the 3-6 combination, but a spinning pin hit the 3 pin and caused it to knock down the 6 pin.

"I was pretty happy," Ziegler said. "I was more worried about the 800, and that didn't happen, so I thought it was over. Luckily, I heard everyone cheering, so I knew something good happened. Then I realized I took it by a pin, and I was a happy camper."

Ziegler didn't perform as well as he would have liked during doubles on the fresh Sport Bowling-certified condition, so he made a move to the left and found a look as the shot began to develop right out of the gates in singles. He started with 10 consecutive strikes, before a 10 pin stood on his 11th delivery.

Ziegler made his Open Championships debut at the urging of several of his league teammates at Del Rio Lanes in Downey, Calif., and now he has to begin the wait to see if that extra pin was enough to claim a title in his first attempt on the championship lanes. The tournament will end its 136-day run on July 13.

"My teammates that I bowl with at Del Rio Lanes wanted to put a team together, and luckily, they wanted me on their team," Ziegler said. "It would be pretty amazing (to hold on to win). We'll see if I get lucky."

Ziegler added 707 in team and 590 in doubles for a 2,081 all-events total, which moved him into fifth place in Regular All-Events.

ChapmanAJ2014_250x140Just a few pairs away, another first-timer made his own run at the top of the standings as A.J. Chapman of Wichita, Kan., moved into second place in Regular All-Events with a 2,194 total. Tim Damerow of Waupun, Wis., leads with 2,228.

Chapman, a 19-year-old right-hander, fired sets of 763 in team, 721 in singles and 710 in doubles. His effort during team helped Thanks Ronnie of Orlando, Fla., into second place in Regular Team with a 3,514 total, the fifth-highest score in tournament history. Motion Plus Lanes of Cudahy, Wis., leads with a record series of 3,561.

Chapman and his teammates also moved into second place in Team All-Events with 10,061. Janz's H.I. of Beaver Dam, Wis., leads with 10,363.

Chapman, a last-minute substitute, was joined at the NBS by P.J. Haggerty (2,014), Clay Herrbach (1,982), Shawn Naumann (1,982) and David O'Sullivan (1,889). Haggerty and Herrbach also moved into third place in Regular Doubles with 1,363. Damerow and Joe Janz of Beaver Dam, Wis., lead with 1,378.

"It feels incredible," said Chapman, who is a former Junior Team USA member and bowls collegiately for Wichita State. "I'm ecstatic to come out here and do as well as I did. It felt really good to have these guys ask me to bowl with them. They're a great team, and it was fun bowling with them."

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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.