LAS VEGAS – Three bowlers who bowled well during team competition Sunday at the 2022 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships were able to carry that momentum into doubles and singles and find additional success Monday on the tournament’s second oil pattern.
Daniel Kimmer of St. Michael, Minnesota, and Eric Nelson of Minot, North Dakota, were the first to find the spotlight as they snuck into the lead in Regular Doubles.
Three games later, Robby Callan of Vacaville, California, cruised into the top spot in the Regular All-Events standings with a 2,139 total, finishing what he started Sunday when he rolled the first 800 series of this year’s event at the South Point Bowling Plaza.
Kimmer and Nelson combined for a 1,399 total, which looked like it was going to be about 50 pins higher, heading into their final frame.
Nelson, a 38-year-old right-hander making his seventh USBC Open Championships appearance, was working on nine consecutive strikes and a bid for the first perfect game of the tournament.
He left a 4 pin on his first shot, converted it and struck on his fill ball for a 279 game. His first two games were 191 and 216, and he finished with a 686 series.
Kimmer, a 26-year-old right-hander competing for the fourth time, had the hot hand over the first two games and entered the final frame on a string of five strikes, with a max score of 256.
His first shot was wide to the right, and he left a 2-4-8-10 split, which he was unable to pick up. He finished with 220 and a 713 series. He started the set with games of 214 and 279.
Timothy Behrendt and Shea Bittenbender of St. Charles, Missouri, previously held the lead with 1,391, but Kimmer and Nelson admitted they both thought someone already had broken through for 1,400.
When they found out they were the new leaders, there was some surprise and a lot of excitement.
“This is a crazy feeling, and I really don’t think it has settled in yet,” Kimmer said. “It may not feel real until we see the standings. I think we threw the ball really well, and the lanes played to our advantage, for sure.”
For Nelson, the excitement of being the leaders superseded any feeling about the run at 300.
“It was a good ball, but it started to read a little early, and I knew it wasn’t going to sit there,” said Nelson, who bowls at Minot’s North Hill Bowl. “The best I could hope for was to trip something, but it is what it is. Overall, I was able to turn a slow start into something, and we put up a good number.”
Kimmer was in a similar position during Sunday’s team event. He started the second game of the day with 10 consecutive strikes, before a seven-count ended his run.
Despite coming up short, Kimmer was happy with the 684 series that kicked off his 2022 tournament campaign, and that helped his confidence for doubles and singles. He closed with a 569 series in singles for a career-best 1,966 all-events total.
“I was throwing it well yesterday and had the front 10, but I didn’t get it done,” said Kimmer, whose home bowling center is McPete’s Sports Bar & Lanes in Big Lake, Minnesota. “I thought about it all night and came to the lanes today just wanting to make shots. I’m satisfied with all nine games and progressing from past appearances.”
The final game of Nelson’s team event started with seven consecutive strikes on the way to a 262 game and 647 series. He added 554 in singles for a 1,887 total. His best all-events effort came in his 2011 debut (1,936).
The new leaders came to Las Vegas as part of a four-team group that includes bowlers from Minnesota and North Dakota. They met for the first time at the South Point Bowling Plaza in 2021, and they didn’t see each other or speak again until they returned to Las Vegas this week.
Callan on the other hand, shared the lanes this week with friends he has been bowling with for decades. The mood was light, the communication was good and the strikes added up over their two days.
On Sunday night, Callan’s 808 series helped BowlTec of Rancho Cordova, California, into second place in Regular Team with a 3,291 total.
The group returned to the lanes motivated for a run at the lead in doubles, singles, all-events and Team All-Events and armed with the confidence they found while competing in the 2022 Bowlers Journal Championships, which features the same oil pattern as doubles/singles competition at the Open Championships.
Callan, a 48-year-old right-hander, started the day with games of 202, 217 and 231 for a 650 series in doubles, a score he said he felt definitely was earned, based on how the lanes transitioned.
Singles included games of 217, 247 and 217 for a 681 total and career-best all-events performance.
“This is a first for me to be leading in all-events, and it feels really good,” Callan said. “It took a while for the pair to break down, and it was pretty flat most of the time. I was fortunate that I didn’t miss any makeable spares, and I was able to break up some splits along the way.”
David Carroll of Wyoming, Michigan, previously held the lead with 2,080.
On paper, Callan’s total was his highest in 22 trips to the Open Championships, and he felt it was the best performance-wise, too. It was the result of months of hard work and adjustments in his game with help from a friend with a keen eye. Then, it was just a matter of making good decisions, staying patient and making spares.
“It was a solid nine games and definitely my best by far,” said Callan, whose previous high all-events total was 2,115, rolled in 2009. “Most of the year, I bowl three games a week in league, but I have been bowling three or four days a week for the last two months trying to get a rhythm and get some games in on different patterns.”
Outside of the individual push from Callan, there wasn’t any additional noise from BowlTec on Monday. The team settled into fifth place in Team All-Events with a 9,317 total. Supreme Deck of Grand Haven, Michigan, leads with 9,917.
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