BATON ROUGE, La. - Ed Seliga of Kenosha, Wis., may not have had a chance to practice on the official lane condition or gather information from friends before heading to the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but he didn't perform like he was at a disadvantage as he bowled his way into the lead in every Regular Division category.
The 52-year-old right-hander and his Seliga's Pro Shop teammates were the first to eclipse the 3,000 mark at this year's event, putting together games of 910, 1,109 and 1,023 for a 3,042 total Friday afternoon. Fun in the Shade of Springfield, La., previously held the top spot in Regular Team with 2,787. The 151-day tournament kicked off Feb. 11 and will run until July 10.
Seliga returned to the Baton Rouge River Center on Saturday and teamed with Chris Galovits of West Allis, Wis., to raise the bar in Regular Doubles with a 1,284 effort. Seliga paced the pair with a 656 series before tossing games of 242, 268 and 209 for a 719 singles set and 1,969 all-events total.
Brian Odom of Moselle, Miss., and David Hughes of Petal, Miss., previously held the doubles lead with 1,199, Michael Baham of Denham Springs, La., was the Regular Singles leader with 654 and Randy Abbe of Big Bear Lake, Calif., topped Regular All-Events with 1,836.
"I know my scores aren't going to hold up to win, but it's always a great feeling to come to this event and leave in the lead," said Seliga, who made his 13th consecutive USBC Open Championships appearance. "Of course it's tough bowling this early because we didn't have a chance to see the pattern before we shipped our equipment, but we knew that when we picked these times. We do have a lot of experience as a group and were able to talk a lot about the condition and how to play it before we went out there."
The tournament lane condition wasn't revealed until Feb. 10 as part of the 2012 Open Championships Kickoff Special, and Seliga was one of the 1,200 viewers who tuned in to see it live on BOWL.com. He and his teammates also took advantage of another new opportunity once they arrived in Baton Rouge.
The group was among the first to visit USBC Silver coach Bill Hall on the tournament's Showcase Lanes, where all five team members spent an hour with Hall practicing on the same lane surface, same oil and same condition they'd be facing downstairs at the Open Championships.
"Bill Hall and the Showcase Lanes were a great addition to the tournament, and the session really helped us get a better idea of what we needed to do," said Seliga, whose pro shop is at Kenosha's Guttormsen's Recreation Center. "It was very informative. We talked about how to play the lanes as well as shot making and technique. We couldn't prepare much before we came here, so being able to do this on-site was great."
Seliga's Pro Shop also moved into the top spot in Team All-Events with a 9,020 total. Seliga was joined by two-time All-American (Newman University) Derek Hartnell (1,873), Scott Hartnell (1,764), Steve Stone (1,741) and Gary Wolf (1,673). Fun in the Shade previously held the lead with 8,371.
The four Showcase Lanes are located on the second level of the River Center adjacent to Tournament Services. The lanes are available by appointment only. Bowlers can book a session that includes Hall's expertise and analysis or simply sign up to practice for an hour. All participants who take advantage of the tournament's new VIP program receive a one-hour session with Hall as part of the VIP package.
Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.