Wisconsin's Bowlers Headquarters in command of Regular Team at 2021 USBC Open Championships

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By Matt Cannizzaro and Ron Kirsh
USBC Communications

LAS VEGAS -
Can someone with the credentials of Mitch Beasley of Clarksville, Tennessee, still be nervous stepping up to the lanes?

The 52-year-old right-hander had a chance to find out Thursday at the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, where he delivered three strikes in his final frame to lift Bowlers Headquarters of Muskego, Wisconsin, to the top of the Regular Team standings at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

"Nervous and a little anxious," said Beasley, a Professional Bowlers Association national titlist, owner of more than 20 PBA regional titles and the defending Regular Singles champion at the USBC Open Championships. "But, it all worked out perfectly."

Beasley's clutch 10th frame put the finishing touches on the highest team game of this year's event, a 1,253 effort that was just enough to get his team by longtime leader, The Bowlers Shoppe 1 of St. Louis.

Bowlers Headquarters opened with games of 1,052 and 1,063 and finished with a 3,368 total. The Bowlers Shoppe 1 had 3,352 on May 15.

"Anchoring the team for the overall lead is the place I wanted to be," Beasley said. "I was in the right-here, right-now state of mind."

In the finale, Beasley led the way with a 264 game and was followed by Joseph Vrobel (259), William Welch (258), James Tucker (245) and Chad Kloss (227). The Bowlers Shoppe 1 also owned the year's previous high game of 1,210.

Welch set the overall pace for Bowlers Headquarters with a 710 series. Beasley had 691, Kloss had 665, Vrobel contributed a 658 set and Tucker finished with 644.

Beasley, who made his 13th appearance at the Open Championships, was bowling with a tendon injury to his fourth finger and had to depend more on his pinky during the team event. It did not affect his mental or physical approach on the lanes. Or his team's confidence in him.

"Our team has all the confidence in the world in Mitch," Kloss said. "When we started the eighth frame, I didn't know the exact total of the leaders, but I knew if we finished strong, we had a chance."

Kloss is familiar with team success at the Open Championships but still is in search of his first win on the tournament lanes.

In 2013, he rolled a perfect game to help his team to a fifth-place finish. A year later, he helped Motion Plus Lanes to a then-record 3,561 team score, which ended up being good enough for a runner-up finish in Regular Team and remains the second-highest total in tournament history. The 2014 title went to Artistic Expressions 1 of Oklahoma City with a 3,720 total.

Beasley also has enjoyed a run of recent success at the Open Championships and at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

In 2017, he bowled a perfect game during his team event there. In 2019, rolled games of 246, 297 and 269 there for an 812 series, which earned him the Regular Singles title. The feat helped him become the 36th bowler (of 37 now) to own both a 300 and an 800 at the Open Championships.

Thursday's lead change came immediately after Beasley was honored as the reigning singles champion and presented with a special championship watch.

With his 194 start, some might've wondered if the excitement of the moment had an effect on his performance. He was able to clear that up.

"I'm sometimes a slow starter, but it's how you end the game that matters," Beasley said. "Today, it ended pretty well."

Beasley's job in Las Vegas is far from done, however.

Now that he's warmed up, he'll look to carry Thursday's momentum to the South Point Bowling Center, where he'll put his singles title on the line Friday at 4:45 p.m. Eastern.

He's the first defending champion in the Regular Division to take the lanes, and he's looking to become the first bowler in 117 years of Open Championships history to win singles in back-to-back events.

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