Indiana bowler shines in singles at 2014 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Throughout his career at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, Jeff Grego of Fort Wayne, Ind., has proven to be more of a team player, but this time, his name sits alone atop the standings as the Regular Singles leader at the 2014 event.

The 36-year-old right-hander posted games of 231, 288 and 279 for a 798 total Saturday at the National Bowling Stadium to move past Derek Magno of Cicero, N.Y., who previously held the lead with 788.

Grego stepped up in the 10th frame knowing he needed at least one strike to secure the top spot and a second for a chance at the first 800 series of the year. His teammates were behind him the whole way, keeping him as calm and focused as possible.

"It's a great group of guys I bowl with, and they kept me at ease, which kept me from thinking too much about the end result," said Grego, who made his ninth USBC Open Championships appearance. "I just wanted to throw it good. Every time I threw it in the right zone, it carried."

After confidently delivering the first strike, Grego felt the pressure of performing on the biggest stage in bowling. His second offering drifted high and left the 3 pin, making the moment a little bittersweet.

"You can take as many deep breaths as you want, but it still got to me," Grego said. "I knew I had the lead, but shooting 800 at the Open Championships is a huge goal for me, which I think contributed to me throwing it bad in that situation."

Coming into this year's event, Grego's singles average at the Open Championships was 202.8, compared to 214.9 in doubles and 208.4 in team. His best singles effort prior to Saturday's success came at the NBS last year, when he shot 674.

He added sets of 698 in doubles and 686 in team this weekend for a career-best, 2,182, all-events total, which is third overall. Grego and Bill Kazmierski of Pinconning, Mich., also moved into ninth place in Regular Doubles with 1,341. Tim Damerow of Waupun, Wis., leads Regular All-Events with 2,228 and tops the doubles standings with Joe Janz of Beaver Dam, Wis., with 1,378.

Good communication and support helped Grego and his Northern Lanes teammates succeed in every aspect of their trip. They also welcomed back former Professional Bowlers Association exempt player and 2009 USBC Masters champion, John Nolen, who helped them to a 3,251 team total. They also are seventh in Team All-Events with 9,685.

Grego studied the lane conditions and watched the live stream broadcasts from the 2014 Open Championships for reference before heading to Reno. He also used the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC as a chance to test his ideas on the same 40-foot Sport Bowling-certified lane condition he'd be facing in doubles and singles at the Open Championships.

He is fourth in Open Singles at the Bowlers Journal Championships (738), and that helped round out a memorable trip.

"It was a bowling achievement weekend," said Grego, an assembly worker at General Motors, who bowls league at Fort Wayne's Pro Bowl West. "You can't even imagine coming out here and bowling this well in every event. It was a great trip."

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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.