Second round continues in 2020 OC Bracket Challenge

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Our organization and the USBC Open Championships have been around since the turn of the LAST century. That means both have incredible histories and countless moments that have been celebrated and become unforgettable.

Even at nearly 120 years old, the Open Championships stage still is the backdrop for things that haven't happened before, whether that be a score or participation milestone, new host city, etc.

The Tournament Firsts quadrant of the 2020 OC Bracket Challenge helped us remember eight things that happened for the first time. The Head-to-Head quadrant of the bracket allowed us to recognize some of the people responsible from those moments and accomplishments.

That continues here in the second round, where it might become even harder to choose which might be more significant in the long history of the OC.

We've got details for each of the second-round match, along with insight and picks from the OC public relations staff and some special guests.

To read more about the other side of the bracket this round (Record Moments and Participation/General OC Milestones), click HERE.

Remember to visit the official USBC Open Championships Facebook page each day to cast your votes for each match!

TOURNAMENT FIRSTS

Initially, this quadrant of the OC Bracket Challenged forced us to consider which holds more value - 300 vs. 800 or pinfall vs. participation- but it also made us consider the eras in which things were accomplished.

Now, we've got an interesting intermingling of performance and persistence, as well as man vs. woman.

MATCH 1
First 800 vs. First to 100,000 pins


What a tough choice!

The first 800 at the Open Championships was rolled by Milwaukee's Lou Veit during his team event in 1977, and the feat nearly was duplicated by Michigan's Mickey Higham, who posted an 801 series to win the Classic Singles title.

Remember, the OC was held all but three times from 1901 until Veit's breakthrough performance in Reno, Nevada, in 1977, and there wasn't another 800 at the OC until 1983.

Then there's USBC Hall of Famer Bill Doehrman, the first bowler in tournament history to knock down 100,000 pins.

His career began in 1908, and he surpassed the 100,000 mark an entire decade before his record-setting 71st, and final OC appearance, averaging more than 182 on the way to the milestone. He finished his career with a total pinfall of 109,566, which now ranks ninth all-time.

STAFF PICK

Matt Cannizzaro:
100K
Why: I've been a bowler for a long time, and I've had days where everything just fell into place. Sure, I think I'm competitive, but these are days that are above and beyond. A day like that at the OC, at the right time, could be monumental, but it certainly wouldn't get my name into the conversation with some tournament greats.

I think this matchup is similar in the fact that Bill Doehrman had many great outings and dedicated a few days each year, of his entire life, to competing at the Open Championships. Considering he started his OC career in 1908, made it to 71 consecutive events and averaged more than 180 on conditions I couldn't even imagine, my vote is for the prestige and wow factor of being the first to reach the 100,000-pin plateau.

MATCH 2
First with three 800s vs. First 800 by a woman


The pins obviously don't know the age, gender, skill level or style of the bowler, and a 200 average, for example, is a 200 average, regardless of any of the aforementioned criteria.

But, is this vote really comparing apples to apples, as they say?

We're asking you to choose between the first, and only, time an OC bowler has registered THREE 800s on the championship lanes and the first woman (of two in history) to roll an 800 set on the championship lanes.

Both competitors were top young talents. Both actually competed (at different times) for Wichita State, one of the most prolific collegiate bowling programs. Both have earned some pretty amazing accolades. Both have made more than a dozen appearances at the Open Championships. If you ask the pins, they're on pretty equal ground skill-wise.

For what it's worth in your voting process, four-time Eagle winner Matt McNiel owns the three 800s which came in three consecutive years - 2010 (806), 2011 (822) and 2012 (847).

Former Junior Team USA member Kristal Wilson was the first woman to reach the 800 mark, shooting 816 in her team event in 2006. USBC/PWBA Hall of Famer Wendy Macpherson was the second to achieve the feat, shooting 812 to win Regular Singles the same year. Women first participated in the OC in 1994.

STAFF PICK

Matt Cannizzaro: First with three 800s
Why: Having participated in the Open Championships more than 20 times and having been present for dozens of 800s during my 15-year OC PR career, I know how difficult and special it is to reach the 800 mark on the tournament lanes. To do it more than once, in three consecutive years, with multiple 300s and a high set of 847 is unfathomable. But, I saw it happen. There's no other choice here.

HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUPS

In the head-to-head portion of the OC Bracket Challenge, we've pitted some of the event's most noteworthy competitors against each other, and to be the best of the millions of OC participants is just....wow!

The four bowlers remaining in contention also had amazing successes outside of the Open Championships, but the things they accomplished on the tournament lanes have immortalized them in the tournament annals.

MATCH 1
Bill Lillard Sr. vs. Mike Neumann


Both of these gentlemen won four Open Championships titles in a single year, and they're two of the three to ever accomplish that. Lillard did it in 1956, and Neumann did it in 1990, bowling on the first two days of the tournament. The bowler joining them in the record book is Ed Lubanski (1959), who Neumann squeaked past in the first round.

Neumann did enjoy some time in the spotlight during his time on the lanes, but the OC comparison for him and Lillard may end there.

Lillard went on to compete in 68 consecutive events, compared to 16 overall appearances for Neumann. Lillard finished his career with eight titles and as the event's all-time pinfall leader with a 124,087 total.

Neumann's years of participation came between 1987 and 2006, and he averaged nearly 211 along the way. He did not win any additional Eagles.

STAFF PICK

Matt Cannizzaro: Lillard
Why: His resume speaks for itself. Not to mention what a pioneer and incredible ambassador he was for the sport and the tournament.

MATCH 2
Wendy Macpherson vs. Les Zikes


In this battle of USBC Hall of Famers, we again wonder if gender really means anything when it comes to knocking down pins. A win is a win and means you bested thousands of teams or tens of thousands of individual bowlers.

In this match, it may make sense simply to choose between two amazing performers and accomplishments, but there also might be the consideration of gender or era or number of titles.

Les Zikes earned his place in the OC Bracket Challenge by becoming he first of two bowlers in history to win OC titles in three consecutive years. He did this with four titles from 1962-1964. But, don't let his six overall titles, 67 years of participation and 114,535 career pinfall influence your vote. Just focus on the streak of titles.

Macpherson found her way into the record book in 2006 by becoming the first woman to win a Regular Division title at the OC. She rolled a 300 game en route to an 812 series and the singles title. Please ignore all of the amazing things Macpherson accomplished on the PWBA Tour and at the USBC Women's Championships, as well as her multiple 299 games in future appearances at the OC.

STAFF PICK

Matt Cannizzaro:
Zikes
Why: Wendy has been a trailblazer in bowling and at the OC, but her past success and accomplishments certainly meant her performance in 2006 potentially wasn't all that shocking. Simply, she possessed the skills and knowledge to post that type of score on the challenging OC lane conditions.

I am choosing Zikes in this match because the odds of winning even one title at the OC really are against us each time we shoe up. To win more than once, even in an entire career, puts you on a very short list. Four times in three consecutive years? Unreal.

For more information about the Open Championships or to register for 2020 (Sept. 12-Nov. 22) or 2021 (March 6-July 18), click HERE.