New leaders emerge in Standard All-Events, Standard Team at 2019 USBC Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Daniel Farish
USBC Communications

Vicente Ada of Bellmawr, New Jersey, is one step closer to realizing his dream of winning an Eagle at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, following his performance Wednesday at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

Ada became the first Standard Division bowler this year to crack the 1,800 all-events barrier, and he tops the standings with a 1,873 total. Paul Mooney of Sandy Springs, Georgia, previously held the lead with 1,799.

After rolling a 595 series to lead his team Tuesday, Ada returned to the Bowling Plaza with some motivating self-talk and a simple plan.

"I just told myself, 'I need to do something, I need to post a good number,'" said Ada, a 59-year-old left-hander. "I was nice and relaxed and didn't try to overdo it. I got caught a little in the transition during singles, but I just kept filling frames. That's really what did it."

Ada, making his 11th USBC Open Championships appearance, went on to shoot the highest three-game set of his tournament career, a 691 series with games of 215, 233 and 243.

He finished his 2019 tournament campaign with a 587 set in singles, also marking the first time he personally has eclipsed the 1,800 mark. Like a lot of bowlers before him, Ada wasn't aware of what he had just done.

"I just wanted to do well, and I didn't know I took the lead until someone told me after," said Ada, who bowls league at Brunswick Zone Turnersville in Turnersville, New Jersey. "Oh man, to win this would mean absolutely everything. This is something I've wanted for so long - just to come out and have a good showing. I wasn't even looking at my total. I just kept trying. That's all it took."

Ada bowls in multiple leagues each year, but he admits he doesn't get to compete on tougher oil patterns, like what bowlers see at the Open Championships. Ada also came into this year's Open Championships after a short break from bowling.

"I hurt my hand this year, so I didn't bowl the first half of the season," Ada said. "I knew I had to get back into it, so that's what I did. I can't explain what happened these last two days. Everything just fell into place."

ShawnBlantonTeam2At2019OCForWeb250x140The excitement in the Standard Division on Wednesday didn't end with Ada's performance, however, as Shawn Blanton Team 2 of Owensboro, Kentucky, also found the spotlight, sneaking into the lead in Standard Team lead by a mere six pins (2,870).

Following games of 890 and 947, the team exploded for a 1,033 finale that saw two of the first three bowlers throw doubles in the 10th frame. Anchor Davey Murphy delivered an eight-count on the first ball of his final frame to secure the lead.

Steve Austin Team 1 of Sparta, Michigan, which included four members of last year's second-place team, previously held the lead this year at the South Point Bowling Plaza with 2,864.

Team captain Shawn Blanton set the pace for Shawn Blanton Team 2 with a 617 series, which included a 268 final game. He was followed by Christopher Strehl (608), Andrew Dill (557), John Leonard (557) and Murphy (531).

A last-minute lineup change is what led to their group coming together.

"We've always stuck with the same five, and we've been bowling pretty bad the last few years," Blanton said. "Our averages being dropped down with the new championship averages allowed us to shift things around a little bit with our 10 guys. One team ended up in Regular, and this team fit into the Standard Division."

The team worked together to break down the lanes, which takes a lot of trust and patience, something Blanton attributes to their familiarity with each other.

"Having bowled together this long, we trust one another," said Blanton, a 41-year-old right-hander who made his 15th Open Championships appearance. "We broke down the pattern, kept making ball changes and our numbers kept going up. The lanes just opened up for me the last game. Chris had 240 as our leadoff, which helped set the tone."

While the teammates knew they were close, they actually thought the leading score was 2,873, not 2,864. By their calculations, they'd fallen short with Murphy's final-frame split.

Finding out later that they'd delivered the big shots when they needed them was even more satisfying.

"You dream for moments like that," Blanton said. "You dream of that situation where you need big shots, you're rooting for your teammates and then you accomplish it. We actually thought we missed it. But, someone told us we were wrong, and the score to beat was actually 2,864. After that, it was high-fives all around."

The Standard Division includes teams with combined entering tournament averages of 776-875.

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