Utah pair vaults into Classified lead at 2018 USBC Open Championships

By Fran Piraino and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

- For Kenneth Poulsen and Robert Johnson, the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships primarily is about forging new friendships, rekindling old ones and traveling to new destinations.

This year, at the Oncenter Convention Center, the pair got a bonus by also taking the lead in Classified Doubles.

In their first tournament appearance together in doubles, Poulsen, of West Valley City, Utah, and Johnson, of Stansbury Park, Utah, joined forces to claim the top spot in the standings with a 1,082 total.

The pair posted matching three-game sets of 541 to surpass Jennifer Geimer of Miami Shores, Florida, and Doug Romanik of Miami, who previously held the lead with 1,077.

"This is an unexpected surprise, can the tournament end today?" joked Johnson, who made his 19th USBC Open Championships appearance. "I thought we needed at least 1,100 to even get up there in the standings."

Johnson rolled games of 199, 187 and 155, while Poulsen contributed games of 200, 184 and 157.

"We came into doubles trying to hit our averages," said Poulsen, who made his fifth tournament appearance." So, to walk out the door as the doubles leaders feels pretty good."

Being unaware of the leading score allowed Poulsen and Johnson to perform in the final frame without any additional pressure. Both players needed to mark in the 10th frame to secure the lead.

Poulsen started with a strike but left a 7-10 split on his second shot. That left it up to Johnson, who got a three-count on his first ball but converted the spare. He knocked over seven pins on his fill ball to move them into first place.

"The only thing I was thinking of in the 10th was just to get a mark," said Johnson, a 69-year-old right-hander.

Poulsen noted it wasn't the strongest finish, but it was enough.

"That 10th frame wasn't great, and I had no idea we were in first," said Poulsen, a 55-year-old right-hander. "After the team event, I didn't think something like that could be possible."

Poulsen and Johnson admitted making a run at the Classified Doubles lead seemed unlikely after shooting 417 and 402, respectively, during Wednesday's team event. Team captain Scott Parry recruited Johnson to match up with Poulsen in doubles for the first time this year.

"I wanted to make sure I backed Ken up in doubles," Johnson said.

Johnson added a 438 series in singles to finish with a 1,381 total in all-events. Poulsen had a 518 in singles en route to a 1,476 all-events total. Syracuse's William Michalski Sr. leads Classified All-Events with 1,693.

Johnson made the most of his journey east to the 2018 Open Championship. He began with a trip to Niagara Falls, followed by a visit to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, before traveling to Syracuse to bowl.

"It was fantastic," Johnson said. "That's what I love about this tournament - the travel, the friendships and meeting new people. Nationals is a great tournament. I like the competition, and you can luck out and win money."

Prior to his tournament appearance, Poulsen enjoyed the sites of Central New York. He marveled at the natural beauty of the region.

"We hung around town and hit some museums," Poulsen said. "When I thought of New York, I thought it would be like New York City, with lots of buildings and people. But, the trees and everything is so green here. I love the fact that you go places you haven't been, and you get to meet a lot of new people. It's just fun."

Classified Doubles features bowlers with combined entering averages of 360 and below.

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