New York team leads Team All-Events at 2019 USBC Open Championships

LAS VEGAS - Taking the lead at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships can be as agonizing as it is awesome, and the internet and social media forever have changed the experience.

Technology even came into play Tuesday as Derek Magno of Cicero, New York, was making a run at the top spot in Regular All-Events at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

He didn't know exactly what he needed to take the lead, but opening Facebook to help shift his thoughts a little bit from the task at hand, immediately revealed what he needed in singles to get the job done, as hundreds of bowlers and fans were following and discussing the action from a distance.

The news didn't shock him or derail his efforts, however. In fact, the 38-year-old right-hander bowled one of the best sets of his 16 Open Championships appearances.

While he didn't reach the individual plateau he was aiming for, his performance helped Mento Produce of Syracuse, New York, into the lead in Team All-Events with a 9,983 total.

Magno knew he needed a 733 singles set to raise the bar in all-events, but he settled for a 718 series on games of 238, 223 and 257. He started the final game with six strikes, before a 7 pin and 10 pin in back-to-back frames ended his run. It also was the third consecutive year he shot 718 in singles, this time lifting him to a career-best 2,142 all-events total.

"I did see the Facebook page and knew what I needed, but it didn't affect me at all," Magno said. "I was comfortable again, and I knew I had a good look, since the lanes had broken down the way we wanted them to. It was just a couple of unfortunate breaks at the end there that were the difference for me personally, but I really was focused on the team aspect the whole time and getting as many pins as we could to give our other two guys a chance."

He added 722 in doubles and 702 in team, which included the third perfect game of the 2019 tournament. Ryan Mouw of Muskegon, Michigan, leads Regular All-Events with 2,156.

Magno was joined in the Team All-Events effort by Joe Conti Jr. (2,084), Steve Meyer (1,995), two-time Eagle winner Anthony Pepe (1,953) and TJ Mento (1,809). Magno and Conti are second in Regular Doubles with 1,404, and the quintet is second in Regular Team with 3,204.

After consistent performances in team and doubles, 3,204 and 3,272, respectively, Mento Produce needed to shoot 1,205 in the final game of singles to get past S and B Pro Shop 1 of Warren, Michigan, which previously held the Team All-Events lead with 9,967.

S and B Pro Shop 1, the defending team champion, still leads Regular Team in 2019 with 3,254, while Mouw tops the Regular Singles standings with 802.

Conti (267), Magno (257) and Meyer (247) finished first and did much of the heavy lifting, meaning the team's two left-handers - Pepe and Mento - would need 434 pins between them in the final game to secure the lead.

Though Mento left, and failed to convert, the 4-7 combination in his final frame, Pepe calmly delivered three strikes to seal the deal with a 450 total between them. Despite the magnitude of the moment, Pepe said he was incredibly calm and confident, thanks to past success at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

The 30-year-old collected his lone Professional Bowlers Association Tour title at the Bowling Plaza in 2014 and returned in 2017 to claim a pair of Eagles (Regular Team and Team All-Events) as a member of Team NABR of Fairport, New York.

"I had a slow start today and couldn't get the ball to shape right, so I made a ball change early in singles that looked a lot better," said Pepe, who rolled a 300 game and finished third in Regular Doubles in 2011. "The guys all bowled great, and I was glad to be able to contribute. Coming out on top in this event is all about chemistry, and we definitely get along well.

"When it came down to the final shots, I just thought back to the success I've had in this building, and that helped ease my nerves in the 10th frame. I was able to throw two great shots, and we were fortunate to come out on top."

Two members of Mento Produce's companion team are familiar with the waiting game and the eventual relief of finishing the tournament on top of the standings, but the process was much different in 1994 when Mike Tryniski and Dean Distin of Fulton, New York, won Regular Doubles and Team All-Events.

That year, the event was held in Mobile, Alabama, and there were no message boards or online leaderboards.

Mobile was a long way from upstate New York, so the leaders had to rely on the capabilities of the South Central Bell telephone company, if someone was nice enough to call with updates, or the weekly newspaper clippings they received with the latest scores.

The end result worked out in their favor, of course, and now Magno and his teammates must endure the same waiting game, but in an era of electronic notifications and instant gratification. But, it's something they're not completely unfamiliar with.

In addition to Pepe's two titles in 2017, Magno and Conti left the 2013 event as the leaders in Regular Doubles, before eventually finishing tied for third place. Mento and companion team member Casey Slaughter left the 2006 tournament as the Regular Team leaders, before settling for third place as well.

"The process is nerve-wracking, but we'll be watching and hoping for the best," Magno said. "We know there's still a ton of good bowlers to come through, and people will give it a run, but we did the absolute best we could, and I'm proud of all the guys. Maybe, one time, we'll get a break and have things fall our way, and we can collect that Eagle trophy we're looking for."

Overall, Tryniski and Distin bowled well again in 2019, too, helping Lakeview Lanes 1 of Baldwinsville, New York, into fifth place in Team All-Events with a 9,466 total, so they'll likely be anxious to see if they can hold on for another top-10 finish.

Distin led the way with a 2,037 total and was followed by Brett Cunningham (2,033), Tryniski (1,895), Slaughter (1,808) and Michael Carno (1,693).

The 2019 Open Championships kicked off its 122-day run March 9 and will run daily until July 8.

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