2014 USBC Senior Championships underway in Reno

By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor
USBC Communications 

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RENO, Nev. - Linda Myer of Winter Haven, Fla., loves bowling and competes in a variety of leagues and tournaments, but until her appearance at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Senior Championships this week at the National Bowling Stadium, she'd never bowled outside of her home state.

But Myers' trip to The Biggest Little City in the World almost didn't happen.

Days before the 2013 Florida State Women's Bowling Association Senior Tournament, Myer found herself without a doubles partner and in danger of not bowling.

"I was able to get a partner the Friday before the tournament," Myer said. "My partner, Linda Jones, and I took first place in doubles, and I beat (USBC Hall of Famer) Lucy Sandelin by one pin to win all-events in the "A" division."

By winning the Division 1 (ages 55-64) All-Events title with a score of 1,364, Myer secured her spot at this year's USBC Senior Championships, being held in Reno on Tuesday and Wednesday, where she's proudly representing the state of Florida.

The 2014 Senior Championships features two divisions - Open and Women's - with six age classifications (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75 and above).

Before taking the lanes for her first three games of qualifying in the 60-64 category of the Women's Division on Tuesday, Myer took the opportunity to look around at the one-of-a-kind venue.

"I came and wandered around to get the awe off of me a little bit," said Myer, who bowls regularly at Cypress Lanes in Winter Haven, Fla. "I had to pinch myself a few times. It's like being a kid in a candy store for the first time."

All Senior Championships competitors will bowl six games over two days, after which the field in each category will be cut to the top six bowlers, who will return to the lanes Wednesday at 10 p.m. EDT for a three-game medal round. All pinfall will carry over, and winners will be determined based on their nine-game totals.

Myer finished the opening round in 30th place with a 589 handicap total after games of 158, 156 and 158 for 472 scratch effort. She knows she'll have her work cut out for her if she's going to catch Alaska's Spring Boling and Jennie Nubie from California, who share the top spot in the standings with 723.

Regardless of her finish, though, Myer is excited to have her first out-of-state bowling trip under her belt, and she already is looking forward to more trips in 2015 with bowlers she has met in Reno.

"Bowlers are bowlers, and they're all family, and it's been great," Myer said. "I've met dozens of people, who I will be staying in contact with. I may even be going to the Open Championships or the Women's Championships with these friends."

GriffinDon2014SeniorChamp465x262In the Open Division, first-time Senior Championships participant Don Griffin of St. Louis used the momentum of recent success at the USBC Open Championships, also held at the National Bowling Stadium, to post the highest scratch series of the day and take the early lead in the 50-54 category.

The 54-year-old left-hander has tried to qualify for the national event before and finally was able to break through this year. He took advantage of the opportunity with games of 224, 279 and 238 for a 741 series Tuesday at the NBS. Reggie Riley of Conway, Ark., is second with 728, while Eric Deaton of Ontario, Canada, is third at 706.

After looking at the lane condition for this year's Senior Championships, Griffin decided on five balls he thought would work, but the official practice session proved otherwise. Following practice, he changed some surfaces and went on to win the first three-game sweeper of the week, giving him a little extra confidence heading into the first qualifying block.

"I came out today and had a similar look, and I was fortunate enough to put some big games together," said Griffin, who posted a 2,026 all-events total at the Open Championships this year. "This is a really neat format, and it's a sprint, so you have to come out and strike early and often. I've been making a lot of good shots lately and not throwing as many bad shots."

Griffin fined-tuned his game during a 90-minute session with USBC Silver coach Mike Jasnau as part of the VIP program at the Open Championships, and along with immediate success on the championship lanes in June, it also gave him some things to focus on while he prepared for the Senior Championships.

"Mike really helped me fine-tune some things and get my game back on track," Griffin said. "It's nice to be bowling well, and I'm just excited to be here competing in this environment."

Griffin will continue his quest for Senior Championships glory with another three games of qualifying Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern.

The 2014 Senior Championships is a national event for bowlers who have qualified through their state's senior tournament. This year's event features more than 400 participants from across the United States and Canada vying for a share of a prize fund of more than $40,000.