Team NABR won't repeat at 2018 USBC Open Championships

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - With three wins at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships since 2015, no one would fault the members of Team NABR of Fairport, New York, for taking the tournament lanes with high expectations and a desire to reach the pinnacle once again.

Win or lose, though, the teammates are appreciative of the tournament's storied history and their place in it and how the biggest stage in bowling can be as humbling as it is rewarding.

They entered the Oncenter Convention Center this week knowing no team in tournament history has successfully defended a Regular Team title, and there has not been a repeat winner in Team All-Events in two decades, but with every intention of ending the trends.

While those streaks will continue in 2018, as Team NABR came up short on both accounts, the group will leave Syracuse in fourth place in both categories, but understandably feeling a mix of disappointment and satisfaction after a great showing in the tournament's 115th edition.

"Coming back as the Regular Team and Team All-Events champions was really special and meant even more because we're so close to my hometown of Rochester, which is about an hour away," said team captain Mike Rose Jr., also the 2007 Regular All-Events winner. "A lot of friends and family came to watch last night, and while I didn't bowl as well as I would've like to, our team performed very well as a group, as always. We're great friends and great teammates, and nothing can change that."

Team NABR's 3,217 performance in the team event Friday night included games of 1,017, 1,037 and a 1,163 finish, the third-highest team game of the 2018 event. While it was short of S&B Pro Shop 1 of Warren, Michigan, which leads with 3,322, it was a nice start for Team All-Events and good momentum heading into doubles and singles Saturday.

Scott Pohl, who rolled a perfect game in the team event in 2013, led the way for Team NABR in team this year with a 686 series. He was followed by Brian Waliczek (672), Anthony Pepe (654), Adam Barta (627) and Rose (578). Pohl, Waliczek, Barta and Rose also were Regular Team champions in 2015, along with former Team USA member Rob Gotchall.

Waliczek set the pace in doubles and singles Saturday, adding sets of 685 and 675, respectively, while helping the group average more than 217 on the day on the way to a Team All-Events total of 9,735. He finished with a 2,032 all-events total, marking the ninth time in 20 tournament appearances he has surpassed the 2,000 mark.

Pepe, the lone left-hander of the group and owner of a 300 game during the 2011 event, finished his 2018 Open Championships with a 1,990 all-events total. He was followed by Barta (1,927), Pohl (1,922) and Rose (1,864).

Team All-Events is the combined all-events total for all five team members. Red Carpet Lanes of Greenfield, Wisconsin, leads this year with a 10,252 total.

"We played them really good last night, our execution wasn't bad and our score ended well, but we felt like we each left about 50 pins out there," Waliczek said. "Today, we got a little lost in the transitions. We did OK, but I don't know that we could've gotten a whole lot more. Kudos to the guys who have crushed it in doubles and singles because there's a lot to figure out."

Beyond any disappointment from not being able to find the top of the leaderboard again in 2018, Waliczek and his teammates truly enjoyed and appreciated the attention, recognition and accolades they earned in their return to the Open Championships this week.

"Overall, this experience was wonderful, and the award presentation was done right, as always," Waliczek said. "Adam being able to talk and say some nice words in memory of Mike's sister was a real tearjerker for the team, but an incredibly special moment at the same time."

Rose's sister, Shelly Rose Stein, lost her battle with cancer the night before they took the team lead at the South Point Bowling Plaza in 2017. Shortly after some hugs and high-fives, Rose headed to the airport, so he could be home in New York with his family.

While Barta, Pepe and Waliczek all bowled doubles and singles the next day, it wasn't until more than three weeks later that Rose and Pohl returned to the lanes to finish the job in Team All-Events.

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