RENO, Nev. - Syl Thiel of Lake City, Minn., has dedicated nearly seven decades of his life to competing at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and he added to his legacy this week at the National Bowling Stadium as he made his 68th tournament appearance.
The 90-year-old right-hander is the event's active participation leader and is in pursuit of the late Bill Doehrman and USBC Hall of Famer Joe Norris, who each competed in 71 USBC Open Championships.
"We're going to make a reservation for number 69," said Thiel, who also is one of 13 members of the tournament's elite 100,000-Pin Club. "The main thing is that my health has been good. It's the love of the game that keeps me going. I started when I was 14 years old, and I've had a lot of fun meeting people. That's the most important thing."
At the 2013 event, Thiel rolled sets of 489 in singles, 419 in team and 410 in doubles for a 1,318 all-events series.
Thiel's Open Championships career began at the 1940 event in Detroit, and he has been to every tournament since 1965. In 68 appearances, he has knocked down 111,260 pins, which is fourth on the all-time pinfall list, for a career average of 181.8.
Norris also tops the pinfall list with 123,770, followed closely by active pinfall leader Bill Lillard Sr. of Houston (120,015), who will make his 66th consecutive trip to the tournament March 25.
Only five bowlers have reached 65 years of participation at the Open Championships:
Joseph Norris, San Diego, 71 years
Bill Doehrman, Fort Wayne, Ind., 71 years
Sylvester Thiel, Lake City, Minn., 68 years
Leslie Berry, Wooster, Ohio, 66 years
Bill Lillard Sr., Houston, 65 years
Here's a look at the all-time pinfall leaders at the Open Championships:
1. Joseph Norris, San Diego, 123,770
2. Bill Lillard Sr., Houston, 120,015
3. Jimmy Schroeder, Tonawanda, N.Y., 113,903
4. Sylvester Thiel, Lake City, Minn., 111,260
5. Glenn Allison, Anaheim, Calif., 111,096
6. Don Ellis, Sugar Land, Texas, 110,544
7. Dick Weber, St. Louis, 109,745
8. Bill Doehrman, Fort Wayne, Ind., 109,566
9. Anthony Malone, Erie, Pa., 105,743
10. Les Zikes, Palatine, Ill., 104,525
11. Frank Carr, Fort Wayne, Ind., 102,651
12. Greg Griffo, Syracuse, N.Y., 102,483
13. Leslie Berry, Wooster, Ohio, 100,528
14. Frank Benkovic, Milwaukee, 99,797
15. Wallace Weiss, Hinsdale, Ill., 98,069
Presenting sponsors for the 2013 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.