Texan lone star atop Classified AE at 2016 USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Trudy Koberlein of Georgetown, Texas, knew she was bowling well at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but she didn't want look up at the scoreboard and jinx her chance at the first 600 series of her tournament career.

Instead, she did what any veteran would do - and what every bowler dreams of - she stepped up and delivered three strikes in her final frame to get there.

But, her performance Thursday at the National Bowling Stadium ended up being far bigger than her 605 series and a tie for fifth place in Classified Singles. Her excellent spare shooting and consistent performance also catapulted her into the lead in Classified All-Events with a career-best 1,754 total.

Joseph Rhinehart III of Albany, Oregon, previously held the lead in Classified All-Events with 1,735, while David Kettell of Lindenhurst, New York, leads Classified Singles with 644.

Koberlein, a 66-year-old right-hander, filled 80 of her 90 frames this week, including 43 spares, on the way to sets of 581 in team and 568 in doubles before her breakout singles effort. Entering her 11th Open Championships appearance this year, Koberlein's highest series on the biggest stage in bowling was a 551 singles set in 2009, which came on the way to her previous-best all-events total of 1,568.

"The last game today, I avoided looking up at the scores because I knew I was close to 600, but I didn't want to jinx myself by adding it up in my head," said Koberlein, who bowls regularly at Highland Lanes in Austin, Texas. "I was just shocked when I realized I got there. I was so excited. I'm especially elated about taking the lead in all-events. I've never bowled this well at Nationals before."

Koberlein and her husband, Herschel, who celebrated his 20th Open Championships appearance, use the annual trip as mini vacation, with her main goals being to turn in a respectable performance and get close to her home average.

The two love the sport of bowling because it's something they can do together, and it's good exercise. They bowl three leagues, and she credits Highland Lanes' house pro, Professional Bowlers Association champion Wes Malott, for her success at the NBS.

Before leaving for The Biggest Little City in the World, Koberlein visited Strike-A-Lott Pro Shop to soak her ball to get the oil out, while also picking up a fresh set of grips and a new glove.

"When we get new balls, we ask Wes a lot of questions, and we value his opinions," Koberlein said. "He watches us, and he knows how we bowl, so he's able to pick out balls that will work for us on different conditions."

The Koberleins also are active in the annual local and state tournaments in Texas, but nothing compares to the pressure of the national spotlight.

While progressing through her nine games Wednesday and Thursday, Koberlein tried to pay extra attention to her ball speed and concentrate more on her spares. She reminded herself to lift up on the ball, too, and the combination now has her in an enviable position atop the leaderboard.

"I hadn't paid any attention to the high scores so far, but I felt like I was doing well enough to maybe get a few bucks back when the tournament was over," Koberlein said. "I'll definitely be curious and check the online leaderboards every now and then, but there's nothing I can do. Whatever happens, will happen. I'd be thrilled if it held, but I won't count on it. Either way, I'm so happy with my bowling today."

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

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