Team USA's Stefanie Johnson leads at 2014 Open Championships

RENO, Nev. - Team USA member Stefanie Johnson of Grand Prairie, Texas, regularly bowls in the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships during May. But with the birth of her first child just three months away, she was at the National Bowling Stadium on the tournament's opening weekend to bowl her nine games.

The 30-year-old right-hander recorded sets of 696 in doubles, 662 in singles and 614 in team for a Regular All-Events-leading total of 1,972. She also leads Regular Singles, and her doubles effort was enough to help her and 2012 USBC Women's Championships Diamond Team champion Brandy Silva of Fort Worth, Texas, move into the Regular Doubles lead with 1,194.

Johnson, who recently tied the knot with 2004 Professional Bowlers Association Rookie of the Year Chris Johnson, didn't think she would be at her best when her usual group hits the lanes in May, so she used the online Sub Board to find a team and log her ninth tournament appearance.

"We are expecting our first child at the end of June, and my original date to bowl is at the beginning of May," said Johnson, a manager of client services for USBC. "I didn't think it would be fair to my team to not be in the tip-top shape I usually would be in, so I opted to bowl this weekend. I got to bowl with some really nice guys from Texas, who welcomed me, and that was really fun."

The 2014 tournament once again features two different oil patterns - one for team and another for doubles and singles - and also has fresh oil for every squad. Johnson proved her versatility as the only competitor from the opening squads to finish above par for each event.

"The patterns are definitely playable," said Johnson, who is a 10-time member of Team USA. "In team event, I didn't make the wisest decisions, but hindsight is always 20/20. I came out with a different thought process for doubles and singles and bowled much better."

Although she doesn't expect her score to hold on for the win, Johnson was excited to see her name at the top of the Open Championships leaderboard.

"I'm going to go and take my picture by the leaderboard," said Johnson, who owns two PBA Women's Series titles. "I don't think they're going to be winning scores by any means, but I'm happy with it.


StormConstruction2014OC250x140Later on Saturday, Storm Construction of Mazeppa, Minn., blew past the competition at the NBS and built a sizeable lead in Classified Team.

Led by Josh McCullick's 579 series, Storm Construction put together games of 856, 879 and 974 to finish with a 2,709 total, nearly 300 pins ahead of previous leader, Fagan Trucking of Shelton, Neb., which put up 2,416 on the tournament's opening squad Friday night.

McCullick was joined by David Fenske (570), Dale Storm (555), Erin Kesler (518) and Paul Cousineau (487).

As the members of Storm Construction finished Saturday, they made sure to look up to the banners hanging from the high ceilings of the 78-lane venue to see the winning team score from the 2013 Open Championships. Although they fell short of the 2,763 winning tally posted by Schmitt Reddi Mix 2 of Bennett, Colo., they're happy with the number.

"It feels amazing to be in the lead," Kesler said. "In the last couple of frames, we looked to see what the Classified score was from last year to see where we were. It's exciting to be at the top, and even if we don't finish first, we should be up there a ways."

In Regular Team, Al's Pro Shop 2, also from Mazeppa, rolled the first 3,000 of the 2014 event, posting games of 924, 1,112 and 972 for a 3,008 total. Team Keeney of Casey, Ill., led after the opening squad with 2,731.

Robert Livingston paced Al's Pro Shop 2 with a 685 series and was joined by Andy Rude (633), Jeff Kiffmeyer (573), Darik Rude (570) and Doug Christianson (547).

Classified teams are made up of bowlers with combined entering averages of 900 and below. 

The 2014 Open Championships will run for 136 days, concluding its two-year Reno run on July 13.

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.