Two-time Eagle winners eye third title at USBC Open Championships

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By Matt Cannizzaro and David Waswo
USBC Communications

LAS VEGAS -
Erik Vermilyea of Apple Valley, Minnesota, and Steve Novak of Louisville, Kentucky, have had past success at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but never as doubles partners.

As former teammates on the biggest stage in bowling, the two collected a pair of Team All-Events titles, winning the coveted crown in 2013 and 2015, and they're now in position to add a doubles victory to the list in 2021.

The duo posted a 1,399 total Sunday at the South Point Bowling Center to catapult to the top of the Regular Doubles standings. Novak led the way with games of 259, 246 and 223 for a 728 series, while Vermilyea contributed 203, 222 and 246 for a 671 set.

Arizona's David Cirigliano and Steven Roberts previously held the lead with 1,346.

Novak and Vermilyea, both 37-year-old right-handers bowling in the USBC Open Championships for the 16th time, credited communication as the key to managing the transition as the lanes changed drastically early in their doubles set.

They both felt their previous knowledge of the South Point Bowling Center was critical, too.

"Bowling quite a few other tournaments here gave us a bit of an advantage, and we used that to bowl as well as we did," said Vermilyea, a past member of Team USA. "I switched balls after Game 1 of doubles and went back to that same ball in Game 3 and used it the rest of the day."

Prior to helping Junior Team USA Support 1 to the two Team All-Events titles, Vermilyea spent time at the top of the doubles standings with another Eagle-winning teammate, Jeffrey Mersch of Orlando, Florida.

The two ended up finishing second in Regular Doubles in 2010, as their 1,507 total ended up being seven pins short of John Kreyer Jr. and Steve Bohn, a pair of left-handers from Minnesota.

Anytime you leave the lanes at the Open Championships, especially with the lead, you wonder if you got all you could. You also can't help but think of the pins that got away during the three or nine games.

"We felt like we could have gotten more pins and maybe gotten to 1,450, which might hold up for the doubles title, but we had a couple of untimely splits late in a couple of games that cost us about 60-70 pins," said Novak, a former standout at Saginaw Valley State University. "We have had a bit of a dry spell at the Open since 2015, but we felt we saw the lanes much better than we have in recent years, and that made us much more comfortable to just bowl and have fun."

The big scores for Novak and Vermilyea weren't limited to doubles, as both turned in solid performances across their nine games at the South Point Bowling Plaza and South Point Bowling Center.

In the end, Vermilyea edged Novak in all-events, adding 751 in singles and 677 in team for a 2,099 total. Novak had 711 in singles and 639 in team for 2,078, putting the two third and fourth, respectively, in the Regular All-Events standings. Todd Fenske of Wausau, Wisconsin, leads with 2,161.

Fenske also leads Regular Singles with 759, which Vermilyea landed close behind in second place. Novak's singles score is just inside the top 20.

HamiltonAndrews2021OCForWeb300x169Earlier in the day Sunday at the South Point Bowling Center, Classified Doubles also got new leaders.

Chicago's Erik Hamilton and Glenda Andrews raised the bar in Classified Doubles at the with a 1,100 total.

The two were consistent in their efforts, shooting 552 and 548, respectively, to pass Robert Sharkey of Pittsburgh and Christopher Healy of Beaver, Pennsylvania, who previously held the lead with 1,091.

Hamilton also made a run in Classified All-Events, before settling into eighth place with a 1,593 total. John Hardesty of London, Ohio, leads with 1,646.

Classified Doubles is for teams with combined entering averages of 310 and below. Classified Singles and All-Events include bowlers with entering tournament averages of 155 and below.

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