Thiel continues pursuit of USBC Open participation record

RENO, Nev. - Syl Thiel of Lake City, Minn., continued his run at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships participation record this week when he competed for the 69th time.

The 91-year-old right-hander began his tournament career at the 1940 USBC Open Championships in Detroit and has made every event since 1965. He's the tournament's active participation leader and is in pursuit of late USBC Hall of Famers Bill Doehrman and Joe Norris, who each competed in 71 tournaments.

Thiel also is just one of 13 members of the tournament's elite 100,000-Pin Club. This year at the National Bowling Stadium, he added sets of 404 in team, 362 in singles and 359 in doubles for a 1,125 all-events total, bringing his lifetime pinfall total to 112,385, which moves him up to fifth on the all-time list. Norris is the tournament's career pinfall leader with 123,770.

Two other bowlers are on pace to eclipse the 100,000-pin total at the 2014 Open Championships. USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart of Suwanee, Ga., and Maynard Johnson of Crystal, Minn., are 472 pins and 1,247 pins, respectively, away from earning their crystal pins.

Hart is scheduled to make his 58th tournament appearance April 1, while Johnson, who became the 17th member of the 60-Year Club in 2013, will hit the championship lanes April 12.

On April 7, fellow hall of famer Bill Lillard Sr. of Houston will continue his run at Norris' pinfall record as he makes his 67th consecutive tournament appearance. The eight-time Open Championships titlist is 2,336 from matching Norris' total.

Only seven bowlers have reached 65 years of participation at the Open Championships:

Joseph Norris, San Diego, 71 years
Bill Doehrman, Fort Wayne, Ind., 71 years
Sylvester Thiel, Lake City, Minn., 69 years
Leslie Berry, Wooster, Ohio, 66 years
Bill Lillard Sr., Houston, 66 years
Jimmy Schroeder, Tonawanda, N.Y., 65 years
Judd Hall, Carrollton, Ohio, 65 years

Here's a look at the 100,000-Pin Club and those just short of the mark:

1. Joseph Norris, San Diego, 123,770
2. Bill Lillard Sr., Houston, 121,434
3. Jimmy Schroeder, Tonawanda, N.Y., 115,397
4. Glenn Allison, Anaheim, Calif., 112,723
5. Sylvester Thiel, Lake City, Minn., 112,385
6, Don Ellis, Sugar Land, Texas, 111,872
7. Dick Weber, St. Louis, 109,745
8. Bill Doehrman, Fort Wayne, Ind., 109,566
9. Les Zikes, Palatine, Ill., 106,219
10. Anthony Malone, Erie, Pa., 105,743
11. Frank Carr, Fort Wayne, Ind., 102,651
12. Greg Griffo, Syracuse, N.Y., 102,483
13. Leslie Berry, Wooster, Ohio, 100,528
14. Frank Benkovic, Milwaukee, 99,797
15. Robert Hart Sr., Suwanee, Ga., 99,528
16. Maynard Johnson, Crystal, Minn., 98,753

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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.