Oregon team leads Classified Division at 2016 USBC Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
Dean Vrooman of Tualatin, Oregon, hasn't bowled in the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships outside the state of Nevada, but he has competed enough times to know how challenging the lane conditions can be.

Vrooman and his U of O Alumni teammates were able to conquer this year's 38-foot team-event oil pattern at the National Bowling Stadium and found themselves atop the leaderboard as the new leaders in Classified Team.

The team, which included a pair of father-son duos, rolled games of 923, 911 and 876 for a 2,710 series Tuesday to move past the all-female We Are Here Anyway of Naperville, Illinois, which previously held the lead with 2,702.

"We don't feel like we've won it yet," said Vrooman, a 62-year-old right-hander. "We left a little on the table the last two frames, but we're really, really happy."

Vrooman contributed a 506 series and was joined on the lanes by Darrin Allen (579), Darrin's father Don Allen (558), John Lorenz (551) and his own son Todd Vrooman (516).

While the team has a combined 39 years at the USBC Open Championship, this was only the second time they had bowled together as a team, with Lorenz coming from Pennsylvania to join the group, but their team name holds a rich history.

"We have 15 different University of Oregon alumni who come over at various times and bowl Nationals when it is in Reno or Las Vegas," said Vrooman, a 1976 graduate of the University of Oregon. "I bowled for the university when I was a student, and Don, who never went to the university, was my roommate. John bowled there in the late 70s, early 80s."

Although the team only had bowled together one other time, their Oregon roots led to undeniable chemistry that translated to success on the lanes.

"This literally is the one time we get together all year," said Vrooman, who made his ninth Open Championships appearance. "We decided this year we were really going to focus on spares because that's the key. It's very hard to get strikes, and if you make a mistake, the lanes make you pay for it."

In their effort, the team came together and averaged 75 percent in possible spare conversions, with Don Allen leading the way with 86 percent of his spares being converted, only missing on three spare opportunities during the three-game team event.

"We kept the momentum from the first game going as we got into the second and third games, and there was never a time we felt like we were losing," said Vrooman, who works for the Portland Winterhawks Junior Ice Hockey team in Portland, Oregon. "We've learned a lot over the years, and we came in mentally prepared, knowing exactly what we wanted to do and stuck with it. It was a good team effort."

Now, the team will settle in to see if the score can hold up until the tournament's July 11 conclusion.

"We had a great time, this was so much fun," Vrooman said. "We've had a lot of struggles here, and you have to go through the tough times to earn the good times. We kept coming back, and we kept working at it, and now here we are."

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

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