Perfect game helps Illinois bowlers into Standard Doubles lead at 2019 USBC Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Daniel Farish
USBC Communications

Competing at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships can be nerve-wracking.

Todd Reno of Lemont, Illinois (right), had those feelings magnified Sunday night as he stepped onto the approach at the South Point Bowling Plaza three strikes from the first perfect game of his bowling career.

As it turned out, he also was in the midst of his first surge up the leaderboard at the USBC Open Championships.

Reno's run at perfection came during his second game of doubles - in his third career appearance at the world's largest participatory sporting event.

Three shots later, Reno became a part of the tournament's storied history with the second 300 of this year's event. It also was the first during doubles and singles at the Bowling Plaza and the first by a Standard bowler since the division was added in 2017.

"I was shaking from the eighth frame on," said Reno, a 25-year-old right hander. "I've been working on my pace lately, and I told myself to stay slow, but not so slow that I started thinking about what was going on."

Following the excitement, Reno and his doubles partner, Robert Riley of Plainfield, Illinois (left), still had work to do. Going into the final game, the duo needed a 370 game to secure the lead in Standard Doubles.

The two bowlers continued doing what they had done the entire night - communicating and working together - and their 409 finale lifted them to the top of the standings with a 1,270 total. Father and son David and Mitchell Scheller of Mount Olive, Illinois, previously held the lead with 1,230.

"We talked a little bit about it before we started, and after the second game, we looked at the numbers and knew we could get there," Reno said. "We told each other we were going to be open and to talk to one another if something went wrong. We planned to help each other."

For Riley, it was about staying clean and leaning on his partner, something the two bowlers worked on even in their team event.

"I knew he had a good look, and I just wanted to strike as much as I could and fill my frames," said Riley, who made his second consecutive Open Championships appearance. "When he was down yesterday, I helped keep him positive. Today was the reverse."

Reno, who regularly bowls at Cherry Bowl in Rockford, Illinois, led the doubles effort Sunday with scores of 161, 300 and 220 for a 681 series, while Riley had 177, 223 and 189 for a 589 total.

The first perfect game of the 2019 tournament was rolled in team competition Friday by Darryl Carreon of Woodbridge, Virginia. The 122-day event kicked off March 9 and will run daily until July 8. The tournament features two oil patterns - one for team and one for doubles/singles. The patterns won't be published until the tournament concludes.

At 19 years old and so early into his tournament career, Riley struggled to put into words what something like winning an Eagle would mean.

"It would be amazing," said Riley, who bowls at Strike N Spare II in Lockport, Illinois. "I just, I don't know. At 19 years old, I mean, I haven't been bowling that long. That whole third game, I wasn't trying to do any math or figure out the numbers. I just wanted to make as many good shots as I could."

Reno is a year removed from winning a team championship at the 2018 Illinois State Tournament, but a win as big as a title at the Open Championships would be a huge confidence boost. That's especially true after the struggles he had at the South Point Bowling Plaza during his tournament debut in 2017.

"My first year here, I shot a 96, so the goal has always been to shoot over 100," Reno said laughing as Riley patted him on the back. "It's easy to say that going on to win would be awesome, but I think that no matter what, it would show some growth for both me and Robert."

Reno added a 544 series in singles and 476 in team this week for a 1,701 all-events total. Riley finished with 613 in team and 551 in singles for 1,753. Vicente Ada of Bellmawr, New Jersey, leads Standard All-Events with 1,873.

Standard Doubles is for teams with combined entering averages of 311-350, and Standard Singles and Standard All-Events include bowlers with entering averages of 156-175.

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