Redesigned Eagles ready for flight after conclusion of 2017 USBC Open Championships

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ARLINGTON, Texas - While illegal in the literal sense, eagle hunting is a term often used by bowlers heading to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, where the ultimate goal is to take home a national title and one of the event's coveted Eagle trophies.

The eagle has been a national symbol since shortly after the birth of the United States and immediately became part of the foundation of the American Bowling Congress and it's national tournament in 1895 and 1901, respectively.

Although the organization, which was part of the merger that created the USBC in 2005, and the tournament, have changed over the last century, the eagle has remained synonymous with success on the tournament lanes, even as the awards evolved from medals to belt buckles to watches to the Eagle trophies bowlers compete for today.

The Eagle trophy itself first was awarded in the early 1980s and has been limited to competitors in the Regular Division and Team All-Events. Winners in the Booster (through 1999) and Classified Divisions traditionally have received awards such as trophies, plaques and watches.

With a new three-division era underway at the Open Championships after the addition of the Standard Division in 2017, the event's premier award also will have a new look, and more bowlers than ever will have a chance to get their hands on one.

Beginning this year, the winners in all three Open Championships divisions - Regular, Standard and Classified - each will earn a version of the recently redesigned Eagle trophy, along with adding their names to the tournament record book, which features 114 years of history.

Moving forward, Eagles will be up for grabs in team, doubles, singles and all-events in each division, along with an overall Team All-Events Eagle for the highest combined all-events total for all five team members.

"Since the Open Championships includes USBC members of all ages and skill levels, whom we categorize into average-based divisions, we want everyone to be able to strive for the same prestigious symbol that has attracted tens of thousands of bowlers each year," said USBC Managing Director of Marketing Tramon Thomas. "With the format change for 2017, we took the opportunity to also introduce a sleek and modern Eagle with slight variations for each of the three divisions."

The specially designed trophy truly is a mix of great tradition and a modern twist, and there's an appropriate size for the winners of each division this year at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

The design process went six rounds, before the final product was selected, and it even incorporates the orange eagle that has long been a symbol of success on the tournament lanes and would hang on the scoreboard next to the name of each tournament champion.

"We looked at the past eagles over the years and wanted something that was a good mix of abstract and geometric but also included the great tournament tradition," said USBC Creative Director Brock Kowalsky. "The angles of the Eagle wings are an echo of the angles of the (USBC) PinStar, and the 10 pins at the base are meant to convey motion and the spirit of the championships. Winning. A strike."

For decades, winning a title at the world's largest participatory sporting event also has come with a few of perks, including annual recognition in the squad room and a scoreboard designation for all champions, which has ranged from an orange wooden eagle to a digital representation of the same thing, to the word champion to a small gold cup.

Regardless of the manifestation, the symbol lets competitors and guests know which bowlers have reached the pinnacle of Open Championships competition. For the winners, seeing the designation on the scoreboard for the first time often is indescribable.

The 2017 Open Championships ended its 149-day run at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, and the first convocation of the new Eagles is about to fly off to all corners of the country.

For those who missed their chance at an Eagle or two in 2017, there still is plenty of time to get in on the action in 2018 by signing up for next year's event in Syracuse, New York.

To learn more about the Eagle, visit BOWL.com/Eagle. To sign up for the 2018 tournament, go to BOWL.com/Syracuse.

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