New York bowler breaks through at 2019 USBC Open Championships

LAS VEGAS - Over the last decade, Derek Magno of Cicero, New York, has garnered a lot of attention for his performances at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but none of those outings have resulted in an end-of-tournament congratulatory phone call from tournament director Duane Hagen.

Six years ago, he and his doubles partner, Joe Conti Jr., found their way to the top of the 2013 standings, only to have their dreams of winning an Eagle crushed less than a month later. They finished tied for third place in Regular Doubles.

The close calls haven't defeated Magno. They've motivated him to keep working and surround himself with talented and experienced players who push him to succeed.

Monday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, six years to the day from when he and Conti took the doubles lead, Magno achieved a special milestone that won't require any scoreboard watching or waiting by the phone - he rolled the third perfect game of the 2019 USBC Open Championships.

"I was taking deep breaths, and I knew my look was there to do it," said Magno, a 38-year-old right-hander who opened his 16th Open Championships appearance Monday with games of 202, 200 and 300. "I made sure to just focus on what I was doing and not look in the back. I made three good shots, and I'm glad to ring the bell on the big stage here, finally."

Magno's 702 series had Mento Produce of Syracuse, New York, knocking on another door Monday, as the group entered its final frame with a chance at the lead in Regular Team.

Only Magno and Steve Meyer were able to strike in the 10th frame, however, but a 1,191 finale, the second-highest team game of the 2019 event, helped Mento Produce into second place with a 3,204 total.

The group started the day with games of 968 and 1,045. Defending champion S and B Pro Shop 1 of Warren, Michigan, leads with 3,254.

MentoProduce2019OCForWeb465x262Anthony Pepe, who was a Regular Team and Team All-Events champion at the South Point Bowling Plaza in 2017, offered a 657 series in his debut with Mento Produce and was followed by Meyer (649), Conti (638) and TJ Mento (558).

"We made some changes to our group, with some guys leaving and some friends coming on board, and we were a little more comfortable today," Magno said. "We really worked well as a team. The lane play was excellent, and we really set up the lanes for a nice big run today. I really enjoyed it, and I was incredibly relaxed."

The two-team group also includes an additional pair of Eagle winners, Dean Distin and Mike Tryniski of Fulton, New York. They were Regular Doubles and Team All-Events champions in 1994 and still have some firepower left more than two decades later.

Distin finished Monday's team event with a 278 game, which helped Lakeview Lanes 1 of Baldwinsville, New York, to a 1,111 finish and into 12th place in the Regular Team standings with a 3,043 total. Lakeview Lanes 1 opened with games of 980 and 952.

Brett Cunningham led the team with a 669 series and was followed by Distin (664), Tryniski (605), Casey Slaughter (591) and Michael Carno (514).

Along with the Eagles already on their resumes, Tryniski (1993 doubles) and Pepe (2011 doubles) also have rolled perfect games at the Open Championships, while Distin (1994 doubles) and Slaughter (2014 team) have shot 299.

"We're constantly making a run, and just to taste the top of the leaderboard, even though I don't have an Eagle yet, that's what we're striving for," said Magno, who finished seventh in Regular Singles and 37th in Regular All-Events in 2014. "We came up a little short today, but I'm hanging out with my friends and bowling well, so I'm happy. Yes, I want an Eagle. To do well and constantly be up there is all we can ask for. Eventually, we're going to take this thing home."

Last year, the Open Championships visited upstate New York, and despite wanting to do well in front of their friends and family, Magno and his teammates still found extra comfort in their own backyard. The result was top-150 finishes in every event.

Now, there's actually a little more pressure because they still want to do well, but they've had less time to watch the other competitors and they have to hope they've settled on the right equipment and game plan.

Magno also is hoping the momentum of the early excitement and a big series in the opening event leads to more success in doubles and singles Tuesday afternoon. They'll use past experiences to make sure their heads are in a good place before hitting the lanes.

"We've calmed down now and are ready to make another run tomorrow," Magno said. "We'll put this behind us, bowl a little more tonight and then focus on tomorrow. We'll do tomorrow what we normally do, which is work together. It's team bowling from start to finish, and we'll start with trying to make another run at doubles."

Magno again will take the lanes with Conti, and their 2019 doubles attempt will get underway at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

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