High-scoring day at 2021 USBC Open Championships yields new leaders in three events

BOWL.com Article Image
By Matt Cannizzaro, Hope Parsons and David Waswo
USBC Communications 

Another high-scoring day at the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships yielded new leaders in Regular All-Events, Regular Team and Classified Team.

The barrage of big scores Saturday included a Team USA member, former collegiate standouts and a group getting its first taste of national success, helping kick off the third week of the 79-day event at the South Point Bowling Plaza and South Point Bowling Center.

The 2021 USBC Open Championships marks the first time in 117 years of tournament history that competition is being held across two venues, but the move will allow for more than 7,700 five-player teams (more than 38,000 bowlers) to compete in the pandemic-shortened tournament.

For those still headed to Las Vegas before the July 18 conclusion of this year's event, two-time Team USA member Michael Martell of Brooklyn, New York, is the player to beat in Regular All-Events, after he finished his Open Championships debut with a 2,194 nine-game total, an average of nearly 244.

The 23-year-old left-hander thought the 300 game he rolled during Friday's team event might be the highlight of his time in the Entertainment Capital of the World this week, but he now has another memory to cherish - the rush of taking the lead at the world's largest participatory sporting event and then potentially having to wait more than two months to see if the performance was enough to claim his first Eagle.

Martell continued the momentum of his 736 team set at the Bowling Plaza, adding 708 in doubles, before making a run at the singles lead, too. He finished with 750, which is third in Regular Singles, but it was more than enough to reach the top of the overall standings.

He opened singles with games of 235 and 258 and then started the finale with five consecutive strikes, needing 224 to reach the all-events number and 266 for singles. A 4-7 leave in the sixth frame and a 6 pin in the ninth left him with a 257 game after closing the game with three strikes.

Martell marked in 89 of 90 frames in his first Open Championships appearance, with the only blemish being a 7-10 split in the sixth frame of his first game.

Todd Fenske of Wausau, Wisconsin, previously held the lead in Regular All-Events with 2,161 and still leads Regular Singles with 759.

"I was already on cloud nine after shooting 300 the previous day, and I didn't think it could get any better than that, but I was wrong," said Martell, who bowls at AMF Babylon Lanes in West Babylon, New York. "The 300 was very important to me, as I was bowling with a group of friends, plus another good friend I hadn't seen in over eight years."

TheBowlersShoppe1ForWeb300x169During the late team squad Saturday night, The Bowlers Shoppe 1 of St. Louis used the highest team game of the year at the South Point Bowling Plaza to surge to the top of the leaderboard with a 3,352 total.

The young team had games of 1,023, 1,119 and 1,210 to become the first to crack the 3,300 barrier at the 2021 tournament, and the success was a direct result of great communication and team play, two skills they honed while bowling collegiately across three talented programs - Lindenwood-Belleville, Lindenwood and McKendree.

The close-knit group was led in the effort by Timothy Heimann, who rolled a 696 series and was followed by his brother Jonathan Heimann (685), Steven Jarvis (668), Scott Hill (660) and William Goodman (643).

Goodman was a member of the McKendree team that won the men's title at the 2016 Intercollegiate Team Championships, while Hill was the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association Most Valuable Player for the 2017-2018 season.

Nicholas J's Pro Shop 2 of La Crosse, Wisconsin, three members of which found themselves in a similar position on the way to the Regular Team title in 2012, previously held the lead this year with 3,287.

Though the members of The Bowlers Shoppe 1 had bowled with one another before, this was their first time competing as a team. They've also only logged a handful of years at the Open Championships, but their past experience in the team environment was integral.

Andrew Orf, the team's mentor at their hometown bowling center, was there to support them as they competed at South Point on Saturday, and he was very happy to see the team do well.

"We went over some leadership changes in the squad, and it was just great to see everyone working together," Orf said. "Even guys not on their team supporting them was just great to see."

MileHyRollers2021OCForWeb300x169In the Classified Division, Mile Hy Rollers of Denver used a clean final frame, including three strikes from anchor John Martinac, to sneak to the top of the standings with a 2,702 total.

The group boasts more than 40 years of combined Open Championships experience and put together games of 900, 884 and 918 to move past State Farm of Mazeppa, Minnesota, which had held the lead since May 2 with 2,673.

Brian Stwalley led the way for Mile Hy Rollers with a 578 series and was followed by Norman Roderick (544), Albert Flis (538), Kevin Fullmer (525) and Martinac (517).

Martinac, a 63-year-old right-hander and team captain, said the trip to Las Vegas was for the love of the sport and to support his fellow teammates.

"This is definitely a highlight of this tournament," Martinac said. "We all are recovering from some injuries, one after the other, so we're happy to make a comeback."

Their teammate Stwalley had been in a recent accident that caused his entire right side to be paralyzed, so he had to make a switch to left-handed.

"It isn't any different from bowling right-handed, but it did take a lot of practice," Stwalley said.

The 2021 Open Championships features three average-based divisions. Classified teams must have combined entering averages of 775 and below.

The Regular Division is for teams with combined entering averages of 876 and above and individuals with entering averages of 176 and higher.

Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Open Championships Facebook page.