Illinois bowler makes history at OC

By Aaron Smith and Jim Schroeder
USBC Communications
RENO, Nev. -
 Craig Szplett of Beecher, Ill., already belonged to one of the most exclusive clubs at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships before lacing up his shoes at the National Bowling Stadium on Thursday evening and starting a club of his own.
The 43-year-old right-hander rolled a perfect game during his team event at the NBS and became the first bowler in 110 years of tournament competition with three 300s on the championship lanes. He also tossed perfect games at the 1996 event in Salt Lake City and 2005 tournament in Baton Rouge, La. His effort Thursday marked the 30th perfect game of the 2013 USBC Open Championships and 800th in the history of the storied event.
Despite being in familiar territory, Szplett admitted to being nervous as he stepped up in the final frame. He trusted his decisions and stayed ahead of the moves on the 41-foot Sport Bowling-certified oil pattern on his way towards perfection.
"I was pretty nervous," said Szplett, who made his 12th tournament appearance and added games of 259 and 217 for a 776 series and helped Bowlers Universe 1 of Rockford, Ill., to a 3,380 team score. "I just tried to relax and just go through the motions the same way I did before, and it worked out. I had a good look in practice, and I adjust pretty quickly so I think that helped me. Every time something went high flush, I moved off of it. There was a nice shim on the lane so I tried to stay around it."
After the 300 in Baton Rouge, Szplett took a break from the tournament but returned at the urging of teammate Skip Wolfe and the chance to bowl alongside USBC Hall of Famer Wayne Webb.
"My buddy Skip kept asking me to go," said Szplett, who entered the night as one of 28 bowlers with multiple 300s at the Open Championships. "He kept bugging me and I kept telling him no. Finally, I said I'd go. It was a little intimidating bowling with Wayne. I watched the guy on TV when I was a kid."
Webb added a 699 series for Bowlers Universe 1 and was followed by Wolfe (687), Mike Dole (619) and Tom Carter (599).
FaulandRyan2013LARGEEarlier Thursday, Ryan Fauland of Longview, Wash., added another memory to his collection at the NBS as he found perfection at the one-of-a-kind venue during his team competition.
The 32-year-old right-hander began his day with a 214 game before firing 12 consecutive strikes. He finished with a 161 for a 675 series and helped High Rollers of Longview to a 2,750 team total.
In 2004, Fauland married his wife, Crystal, on lanes 27-28 of the 78-lane Stadium. Being able to share the latest memorable moment with her by his side made for an emotional experience.
"I married her nine years ago here at the Stadium," said Fauland, who made his second Open Championships appearance. "To be back nine years later and shoot an honor score means a lot to me and to her as well. I was in tears. She told me good job and that she loved me and we embraced for a minute before she had to bowl. She has always been a big support to me, and she and my Dad have been there through everything with me."
A ball change in the 10th frame of Game 1 helped Fauland make his run at perfection. After recording his final strike, he was mobbed by friends, family and fellow bowlers, including Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Dale Eagle.
"The first game, I started out with the front five, and then it shifted on me," said Fauland, who bowls regularly at Longview's Triangle Bowl. "I made a ball change in the 10th and threw it wide, but I stuck with it and moved a little right to play more up the boards. To come out and do it in front of the big crowd that was here today was awesome. Dale Eagle was right next to me, and he gave me some props. It was fun, but really nerve-wracking."
Presenting sponsors for the 2013 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.