Michigan bowler logs 800 at 2014 USBC Open

By Jessica Gilgor
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
When Chris Nielson of Livonia, Mich., finished the final game of his team event at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, he felt slightly embarrassed. However, that did not get in the way of celebrating the sixth 800 series of the tournament.

The 29-year-old left-hander put together games of 269, 279 and 252 for 800 on the nose Thursday at the National Bowling Stadium.

Nielson was unaware that he needed only six pins on his final delivery to add his name to the USBC Open Championships record books, so when he left the 4-6-7-10 split, he immediately counted it as a missed opportunity on bowling's biggest stage.

"I thought I had 790 with the six-count," said Nielson, who made his fifth Open Championships appearance. "Leaving the Big Four was kind of embarrassing in addition to the 7-9 in the first frame. I've seen better."

Nielson's 800 series was the 45th in nine visits to the NBS and marked the second time at the 2014 event there were 800s on back-to-back days. Jon Trzcinski of Bay Shore, N.Y., rolled an 802 set in singles Wednesday afternoon.

The moment was not lost on the southpaw, whose previous high series on the tournament lanes was 687 shot in team at the 2011 event, also at the NBS. Nielson rated Thursday's performance as both incredibly challenging and rewarding.

"It's the hardest 800 series I've shot," said Nielson, who bowls regularly at Livonia's Woodland Lanes. "I mean, this is Nationals."

Nielson's efforts helped his team, Ansara Restaurant Group of Farmington Hills, Mich., to games of 1,121, 1,140 and 1,186 en route to a 3,447 team score, placing them just outside of the top 10. Motion Plus Lanes of Cudahy, Wis., leads Regular Team with a record score of 3,561.

"Knowing the scores are higher this year was kind of intimidating," said Nielson, who works for Pro-Am Bowling and Trophy Sales. "We brought in two more lefties this year and tried to break down the lanes in practice and create a little room."

While their strategy seemed to work, Nielson gave credit to teammate Harry Sullins for keeping the team together and keeping him in the moment. And even as Nielson was chasing his place in history, the rest of his teammates kept the mood light and made sure there were plenty of laughs.

"Last year, I bowled with food poisoning," Nielson said. "They made sure to remind me by asking if I was okay every 10 minutes. They were doing all the talking."

Sullins, a five-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour champion, added a 674 set for Ansara Restaurant Group and was followed by Abed Daher (674), Ken Wyatt (662) and Kevin Trumbull (637).

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.