Illinois ladies lead Classified Team at 2016 USBC Open

By Matt Cannizzaro and Christian Seaborn
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
After years of supporting their husbands, boyfriends and significant others at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, Belle Garcia and her friends decided they should take advantage of the trip and bowl as well.

Four years later, their appropriately named team We Are Here Anyway of Naperville, Illinois, found its way to the top of the leaderboard in Classified Team with a 2,702 total Thursday at the National Bowling Stadium.

The group posted games of 909, 935 and 858 to move past Yeah Spare IV of Sacramento, California, which previously held the lead with 2,656.

"We've worked hard, very hard for this," said Garcia, who made her fourth USBC Open Championships appearance.

Susan Schlink led the way for the all-female We Are Here Anyway with a 638 series and was followed by Jan Schmidt (609), Kristine Kreuser (548), Garcia (500) and Catherine Gober (407).

The group has seen steady improvement under the guidance of two-time Open Championships titlist Gregg Zicha, the full-time bowling instructor at Fox Bowl in Wheaton, Illinois.

"We've worked hard for this," said Schlink, who teamed with Dave Armstrong to win Handicap Doubles at the 2015 Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC. "We worked hard, developing our skills with Gregg's coaching tips."

The members of We Are Here Anyway have enjoyed continued success at home and have combined for 43 years of Open Championships, and this year at the NBS definitely provided the highlight.

Schmidt is the veteran of the group with 17 tournament appearances followed by Kreuser (15), Garcia (four), newcomer to the group Gober (four) and Schlink (three).

"It has been a dream of mine to be on, however I can make it," said Schlink, who also finished third in the 199 & Under Handicap Singles at the 2015 Bowlers Journal Championships. "Today has been a special day. It's definitely a highlight for us."

The Classified Division is for teams with combined entering averages of 900 and below.

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