Indiana first-timer leads Classified All-Events at 2018 USBC Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Christine Nichols
USBC Communications

Isaac Wake of Versailles, Indiana, made the most of his first appearance at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships by taking the lead in Classified All-Events.

The 17-year-old right-hander realized he bowled well Sunday and Monday at the Oncenter Convention Center, but he didn't realize exactly what he'd accomplished until people around him started congratulating him.

His performance included sets of 605 in team, 602 in singles and 547 in doubles for a 1,754 all-events total. Jochen Rehbein of Germany previously held the lead in Classified All-Events with 1,718. He still leads Classified Singles with 622, while Wake's singles score is third overall.

Wake arrived in Syracuse for his tournament debut feeling some stress and nerves, never having bowled in a tournament like the USBC Open Championships, but competing in the nearby Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC helped make him a little more comfortable prior to his time on the biggest stage in bowling.

"Bowling in the Bowlers Journal helped build my confidence, helped me relieve some stress and gave me an understanding of what to expect here at the Open Championships," Wake said. "I was able to bowl with bowlers who are well above my caliber, and it gave me an idea of what I was up against."

Wake is very familiar with what success at the Open Championships means and the significance of being an Eagle winner, as he is lucky enough to bowl and work at Pollard's Bowl, which is owned by Open Championships titlists and record holders Ron Pollard Sr. and his brother Rick Pollard, both members of the Pollard's Bowl team that claimed the 1996 Team All-Events title with a record score of 10,425.

Wake's success in Syracuse this week has to do with the advice given to him by Ron Pollard Sr., a USBC Hall of Famer, as well as Wake's coach.

"In the team event, Ron advised me to make a couple board adjustment, and that seemed to help me catch up to the transition," Wake said. "In my young bowling career, an Eagle would mean so much to me. I don't really believe this is all happening right now, but it's exciting."

The youngest winner in Open Championships history is Ronnie Knapp of New London, Ohio, who became a Booster Team champion in 1963.

Pollard acknowledged how hard Wake worked in preparing for his first trip to the Open Championships, and seeing that effort pay off is very rewarding for a coach, too.

"Isaac works really hard on his game, and coming into this tournament, I knew he would have a good shot in his division," said Pollard, who made his 35th tournament appearance this week.

Wake got his chance after one of the bowlers from Ron Pollard's five teams couldn't make it. The invitation was something Wake simply couldn't turn down, and it didn't take long for him to have an understanding of the magnitude of the tournament.

Now, the wait begins to see if his score is enough to hold on until the 2018 event concludes its 107-day run July 8.

"I will be checking the leaderboard quite frequently between now and the end," Wake said. "Hopefully, 1,754 is good enough and holds up. Only time will tell."

Classified Singles and Classified All-Events include bowlers with entering averages of 180 and below.

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