Wisconsin bowler makes 50th appearance at OC

By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
When Dennis Lecher of Pewaukee, Wis., finished his team event at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, his name was added to an exclusive list as the 173rd bowler to reach 50 years of participation on the tournament lanes.

The 70-year-old right-hander made his first USBC Open Championships appearance at the 1965 event in St. Paul, Minn., and has been to the tournament every year since his debut.

"It's my most memorable of all the tournaments so far," said Lecher, who received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate the milestone. "I have no idea what motivated me. I like the people I bowl with, and I have fun with them, so they kept me coming back."

Although his appearance this week at the National Bowling Stadium holds a special place in his tournament career, Lecher holds his first tournament in high regards, since he was able to participate alongside his father.

"I bowled my first tournament with my father," Lecher said. "It's probably the most memorable of all my tournaments, as that was the only year we bowled together."

Lecher has plans to keep making his annual visit to the Open Championships with hopes of helping a teammate also reach his own tournament goal.

"My doubles partner, Dana Thomas, wants to come back the next three years so he can get to his 40th tournament," Lecher said. "I'm going to bowl with him, so I have three more for sure."

Lecher was the ninth bowler of the 2014 event to join the 50-Year Club. Anthony Cerrato of East Hanover, N.J., will be the last to reach the milestone this year when he makes his 50th appearance May 20.

AwardDeliveryCart2014OC465x262Clinton Zavakos of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., and Frank Clay of Crystal Lake, Ill., became the 18th and 19th members of the 60-Year Club at the Open Championships earlier this month, while active participation leader Sylvester Thiel of Lake City, Minn., made his 69th appearance in March. USBC Hall of Famers Joe Norris and Bill Doehrman top the participation list with 71 tournament appearances.

Lecher finished his 2014 tournament with 616 in singles, 530 in doubles and 487 in team for a 1,633 all-events total. In 50 years at the Open Championships, he has knocked down 82,324 pins for a career average of 182.9.

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