Ohio bowler surpasses goal, leads at 2016 USBC Open

By Matt Cannizzaro and Jessica Gilgor
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
Chet Wigal III of Groveport, Ohio, will be the first to admit his love of the sport of bowling has dwindled over the years, but he found his passion renewed Thursday as he moved to the top of the leaderboard in Classified Singles at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.

Wigal, a 29-year-old right-hander, rolled games of 243, 186 and 232 for a 661 total, passing David Kettell of Lindenhurst, New York, who previously held the lead with 644.

"I used to bowl more when I was younger," said Wigal, who made his third USBC Open Championships appearance. "I was more driven when I was younger. Now, I just bowl with buddies."

While he might not bowl as much, or as competitively as he used to, Wigal was able to find the right attitude and composure when faced with taking over the top spot on the leaderboard.

"I was trying to take it frame by frame, and my teammate was telling me to breathe," said Wigal, who is a teacher for the Groveport Madison School District. "I was blocking it out of my head, telling myself not to think about it or I would mess up and make a mistake."

Even still, Wigal felt a missed conversion on an eight-count split in the ninth frame of the second game, was the one mistake that would be his undoing.

"I thought the 186 would come back to bite me," Wigal said. "Then I started off with a double in the third game, and knew I could do it."

After a disappointing 468 series, including a final game of 137, in his doubles event, Wigal found himself making a move he normally would not have made, in order to put himself in a position to perform better during singles.

"I decided to go back to using my original ball and moved left to play the middle of the lane," Wigal said. "I never bowl like that, I don't feel comfortable playing left, but something just clicked, and I thought I had nothing to lose after doubles."

While Wigal's initial goal for his 2016 Open Championships experience simply was to score high enough to place in the top 20 for singles, he found himself exceeding his own expectations.

"I knew I could get into the top 20 with a high 500 series," Wigal said. "It was a goal I wanted to achieve coming in, but I didn't think it would ever happen."

Wigal added a 566 set in team for a 1,695 all-events total. Trudy Koberlein of Georgetown, Texas, leads Classified All-Events with 1,754.

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

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