First-timer leads singles, all-events at 2016 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Prior to last summer, David Kettell of Lindenhurst, New York, never had bowled in organized competition, but months of hard work and guidance helped prepare him for his United States Bowling Congress Open Championships debut and a run up the leaderboards.

The 19-year-old right-hander was familiar with the tournament after accompanying his friend, Nick Koch, to the 2015 event in El Paso, Texas, and it was Koch who convinced him to bowl at the National Bowling Stadium this weekend.

Kettell has an athletic background, having played baseball, hockey and football, and he relied on experience gained in those sports to help him stay relaxed and focused in his first appearance at the USBC Open Championships.

The strategy worked, as Kettell got progressively better with each event, and he'll leave The Biggest Little City in the World as the leader in Classified Singles and Classified All-Events with 644 and 1,661, respectively.

"I really just came here to have fun, expecting to just watch Nick again, but he told me I should bowl and even offered to help find me a team," said Kettell, who added a 528 series in doubles and 489 set in team. "The possibility of winning is something I never imagined doing, but that would be awesome. I had a good time, and now I'll just wait and see how it ends up."

Kettell's formal introduction to bowling came as an employee at AMF Babylon Lanes in West Babylon, New York, where he works six days a week. He subbed in a league one week last summer and decided to commit to a league full-time in the fall.

Koch, a four-time Open Championships participant, has been there to help Kettell hone his skills and learn how and when to make adjustments.

"When league started in September, I got my first ball, and 13 weeks later, I got my first pair of bowling shoes," said Kettell, who found a no-thumb release to be the most comfortable for him. "Nick showed me how to approach the lanes, and it definitely has been tough at times, but when I struggle in league, he's there to help me with adjustments."

Kettell said he felt confident heading into the trip to Reno, and leaving his mark on the leaderboard became a reality early in singles as he struck on five of his first six shots on the way to a 256 start.

After shooting 186 the second game, he did the math and knew he needed just 153 pins to catch Greg Kokanour of Highland, California, who previously held the lead with 595.

"Once I threw the first three strikes the last game, I knew I had a shot if I could just stay focused," Kettell said. "After I opened in the sixth frame, I was just hoping to regroup and throw a good shot on the next ball. I told Nick I was feeling great coming in, and even though I knew it would be tough, I'm glad all the work paid off."

Michael Booker of Eagle Bend, Minnesota, previously topped the Classified All-Events standings with 1,657.

The Classified Division is for bowlers with entering averages of 180 and below.

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