NY mega tournament attracts 40,000

April 1, 2018 GMT

One of bowling’s most prestigious tournaments began last weekend in Syracuse, New York. Opening ceremonies for the 2018 USBC Open Championship played out at the Oncenter Convention Center where the first of nearly 40,000 bowlers took to the lanes cheered on by family, friends and bowlers in the packed house.

Competition continues daily from 7 a.m. to about 3 a.m. until July 8. Several teams from the Huntington USBC will head to Syracuse in mid-June to compete.

Two of Syracuse’s most well known mascots, Otto the Orange for Syracuse University and Crunchman for the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch, led the opening squad into the custom 48-lane tournament venue. The 44 five-person teams for the opening shift had front-row seats for the crowning of “Joe Bowler” and Mass Bowl Shot Ceremony.

Patrick VanWagenen, of Kingston, New York, which is 135 miles from Syracuse, was randomly selected “Joe Bowler” prior to going to the lanes. He wore the traditional cape and crown as he rolled the ceremonial first ball of the tournament in his first trip to a USBC Open. The righthander, who is 25, left a ringing 10 pin on that memorable shot.

The rest of the bowlers got in on the celebration by taking part in the Mass Ball Shot Ceremony, a tradition in which a bowler on each lane simultaneously rolls a ball.

This is the 115th edition of the tournament and marks the fifth trip to Syracuse. Previous visits included 1935, 1958, 1973 and 1999.

PERFECTO: Tommy Kalb rolled a perfect game in the Storm Eastern Heights Men’s League at Strike Zone Bowling Center. The 300 helped the right-hander finish with a 790 series.

MONEY FOR GOOD CAUSE: The Pins for Paws League at Colonial Lanes wrapped up for the season. The league raised $5,200 for the Barboursville Police Department K-9 Unit, Huntington Police Department K-9 Unit and Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter.

Hats off to Colonial proprietor Amy Neighborgall-Fisher, the Colonial staff, Terry Turner II and Dawn Brown-Turner and all bowlers who took part in this first-year venture.

WAY TO GO: Junior bowlers from Strike Zone Bowling Center brought home $1,725 in scholarships from the West Virginia Junior Championships held in Morgantown the first two weekends in March.

BACK TO WORK: The 98th Elks National Bowling Tournament and 13th West Virginia State USBC BA Open, both being held in Huntington, took Easter weekend off. Action resumes next weekend and continues on weekends through early May. Colonial is the host center for the Elks. In the State Open, Strike Zone is home for singles and doubles and Dixie Lanes in Grayson, Kentucky, is home for team event.

State tournament officials are looking for volunteers to keep score. Shifts are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at both centers. Scorekeepers do get tips. Contact a Huntington USBC board member if interested.

FINALLY A WIN: Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte and partner Bill O’Neil made it to the top in the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship last Sunday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. The twosome had finished fourth the past three years. This time, the top-seeded team beat brothers Darren and Michael Tang 205-185 in the championship match.

David Walsh writes about bowling for The Herald-Dispatch. His email is bigdogdown@gmail.com.