Huge singles event helps team into top spot at 2017 Open Championships

LAS VEGAS - Trust in yourself and your teammates goes a long way at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and former Junior Team USA member Matt Gasn of Clarksville, Tennessee, relied on both as he rolled the first 800 series of the 2017 event Saturday at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

MattGasn_637The 25-year-old right-hander rolled games of 251, 286 and 265 for an 802 series and moved into the lead in Regular Singles, while helping Vanilla Salsa of Roseville, California, take over the top spot in Team All-Events with a 9,743 total. Team All-Events is the combined all-events score for all five team members.

Gasn's singles set led a furious charge by Vanilla Salsa in the team's final three games, as Shawn Naumann (696), PJ Haggerty (684), Sean Riccardi (676) and David O'Sullivan (650) joined Gasn to average more than 233 as a team in singles.

Overall, Naumann moved into second place in Regular All-Events with 2,053 to pace the team. Gasn is fifth with 2,025, and O'Sullivan is tied for 10th with 1,960. Haggerty added 1,854, and Riccardi had 1,851.

Tony Buck of Rockford, Michigan, previously held the lead in Regular Singles with 768, Every Kiss Begins With Kruml of O'Fallon, Missouri, owned the top spot in Team All-Events for just 24 hours with 9,588 and Jacob Boresch of Kenosha, Wisconsin, leads Regular All-Events with 2,122.

"We all know each other's games really, really well and all trust each other," said Gasn, who made his fourth USBC Open Championships appearance. "That type of chemistry is huge in this event. Today, we did a great job in breaking them down and letting them develop the right way, so we could really take advantage during singles."

After starting his first game of singles with eight consecutive strikes, Gasn popped 10 in a row to start his second game, before leaving a 2-8-10 split to end his run at the first perfect game of the 2017 Open Championships.

The result led Gasn to try a different ball on his spare attempt, and he stuck with that ball on the right lane for the rest of his set.

Going with a different ball on each lane, Gasn struck eight times in the first nine frames of the finale, while a strike to start the 10th and a seven-count on his second offering, was enough to lock up the 800.

"I just told myself to stay aggressive," said Gasn, who helped Robert Morris-Illinois capture the 2013 Intercollegiate Team Championships title. "I felt the right lane was getting tighter down lane, and I didn't think the ball I was throwing was the right ball anymore. I thought I threw my 11th shot pretty well, but it just wiggled. I went to a more responsive ball on that lane, I trusted it and I made good shots. I think that move came down to experience. Both balls rolled really well, but I knew the transition of my equipment when it was time to make a change."

The team put itself within reach of the Team All-Events number with a strong doubles performance.

Gasn (632) paired with Jackie Carbonetto of Blauvelt, New York (680), to move into third place in Regular Doubles with 1,312, Naumann (683) and Haggerty (611) moved into sixth place with 1,294 and O'Sullivan (655) and Riccardi (612) settled into a tie for 10th place with 1,267.

Vanilla Salsa also tied for fifth place in Regular Team on Friday with a 3,042 total.

Nick Pate of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and Casey Maxted of Gillette, Wyoming, lead Regular Doubles with 1,336, and Kruse's Pro Shop of Fargo, North Dakota, leads Regular Team with 3,198.

Despite nursing a wrist injury throughout the week, Gasn's performance was unaffected, and he and his teammates now get to experience the exciting wait they were hoping for entering the 2017 Open Championships. The event kicked off Feb. 18 and will run daily for 149 days, concluding July 16.

"This is awesome," said Gasn, who works as a technical support coordinator for Ebonite International. "Our goal is to win the team event each year, but, in my opinion, it's even harder to win Team All-Events. Obviously, I would be very happy to win either one, and it's awesome to be able to share this experience with these guys."

Regular Singles and Regular All-Events includes bowlers with entering averages of 210 and above, while Regular Doubles features bowlers with combined entering averages of 420 and higher. Regular Team consists of five-player teams with entering averages of 1,046 and above.

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