Wisconsin bowler reaches 50 years at 2018 USBC Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Christine Nichols
USBC Communications

For Orin Hapke of Madison, Wisconsin, five decades at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships have been filled with family, friends and years of unforgettable memories.

The 73-year-old, who made his tournament debut at the 1968 event in Cincinnati, enjoyed being the center of attention Monday at the Oncenter Convention Center as he was escorted to the center of the 48-lane venue by his wife of 45 years, Charlene, and three grandsons, Sebastian, Sully and Henry, to celebrate his 50th tournament appearance.

As he took a few minutes to speak in front of everyone, he reminisced about years past and thanked his family and friends for their support and encouragement throughout the years.

Hapke then received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate his milestone.

"This milestone means the world to me, and I am so lucky to be able to share this moment with the people I love," said Hapke, who only missed one event since his debut (2014). "I enjoy the camaraderie created on the lanes with friends, as well as meeting new people who soon become friends. This has been a great experience, and I thank my good health for allowing me to achieve such a milestone."

Hapke, a Lake County (Illinois) Bowling Association Hall of Famer, was grateful to share such a special occasion with one of his longtime friends and teammates, John Kerpan of Waukegan, Illinois, who also was recognized on the lanes Monday.

Kerpan became the newest member of the event's 55-Year Club and was presented with a plaque, chevron and engraved watch for his milestone. That's now the next goal Hapke will strive for.

"Being able to share two separate milestones with someone like John, is undoubtably one of the greatest feelings," said Hapke, who is a past Illinois USBC Bowling Association doubles champion with Kerpan. "I am looking forward to making it to 55 years in this tournament, and with good health and my love for this sport, I hope to achieve that goal."

Hapke loves the sport of bowling so much that he plans on getting his grandkids involved. There are many opportunities for youth bowlers to compete and improve, and they can aim to compete in high school, college and, eventually, the Open Championships.

"They are the future of this sport, and I want to be able to enjoy the sport with them while I still can," said Hapke, who bowls regularly at Dream Lanes in Madison and Village Lanes in Monona, Wisconsin.

He plans on bowling this summer with his oldest grandson, Sebastian, who has already shown an interest in the sport.

This year on the tournament lanes, Hapke rolled sets of 556 in singles, 527 in doubles and 494 in team for a 1,577 all-events total. In 50 years at the Open Championships, he has knocked down 81,895 pins for a career average of 183.2.

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