North Dakota team finishes strong to take lead at Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

Few moments can match the intensity of needing to throw a strike to take the lead at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and the members of Kruse's Pro Shop of Fargo, North Dakota, were able to share in that experience as they recorded a near-perfect final frame Thursday to take the lead in Regular Team.

The group started strong at the South Point Bowling Plaza, recording games of 1,021 and 1,116. In the finale, four of the five team members delivered doubles in the 10th frame to finish with a 1,061 game and 3,198 total. Classic Lanes Raisins of Milwaukee previously held the lead with 3,158.

Eric Parvey led the effort for Kruse's Pro Shop with a 671 series, and he was joined by Douglas Wagner Jr. (657), Bradley Nordick (641), Zack Wilhelmi (619) and Casey Stavenger (610).

Knowing the lead was well within reach heading into Game 3, the teammates felt the pressure of contending for the top spot, but they were able to settle in down the stretch to setup a 10th frame that included 10 strikes in 14 attempts.

"I think we got a little nervous after the second game," said Parvey, who made his fifth USBC Open Championships appearance. "We were staying ahead of the moves, and I don't think the shot went away, but we just started to press for the first half of that game. We started making our spares and putting a few strikes together, and that 10th frame was fun. You just start feeding off of each other, and it's kind of electric."

The new leaders are part of a bigger contingent that travels to the Open Championships each year and has found success on the biggest stage. Although this was the first time the five had bowled together on the championship lanes, the experiences they have shared locally helped ease the transition.

"We practice together, bowl league together and really know each other's games," Parvey said. "The ability to work together and makes moves together is what the Open Championships is all about, and we were able to accomplish that tonight."

Along with the familiarity, the group took advantage of a practice session back home, as well as another at the South Point Bowling Center, to help prepare for Thursday's run.

"All five of us got together before coming out here and just spent a few hours on the lanes," said Parvey, who was named to the 2009 Intercollegiate Team Championships all-tournament team as a member of North Dakota State. "When we got here, we had a team practice. We used one lane to try and break it down and another to just find a shot. It played a little different, but it gave us an idea of whether we wanted to go for it from the start or work together to open it up. We also had a group of guys from our collegiate team at North Dakota State bowl just before us, so we watched the entire shift."

Parvey and company will be back on the lanes for doubles and singles Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern and hope the momentum of Thursday's finish will translate to more success. Regardless, they will enjoy their time at the top of the standings.

"It's kind of surreal to be leading here," Parvey said. "I know the score isn't going to hold up, since we left some sticks out there, but it's cool to be leading at the Open."

Regular Team features five-player teams with combined entering averages of 1,046 and above.

A few lanes away, the Standard Team lead also was in jeopardy, as companion teams Oak Forest Bowl and Burr Oak Bowl of Midlothian, Illinois, both entered the final frame with a shot at the top spot in the standings.

Both, teams came up short, however, moving into second and fourth place, respectively. Oak Forest Bowl posted games of 884, 945 and 843 for a 2,672 total, while Burr Oak Bowl had 875, 893 and 873 for 2,641. Wildcat Lanes 1 of Wayne, Nebraska, leads with 2,688.

Mark Jennings set the pace for Oak Forest Bowl with a 595 series and was followed by Blake Raney (588), Joshua Reidy (557), Timothy Wicklander (496) and Craig Prochaska (436). Burr Oak Bowl included captain Michael Adam (609), Gary Prochaska (573), Bill Cunningham (518), Joseph Wronkiewicz (482) and Wayne Hutchinson (459).

Teams in the new Standard Division have combined entering averages of 901-1,045.

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