Minnesota bowlers shine at BJ Championships

NeuenschwanderGeorge2012LARGEBATON ROUGE, La. - Rod Neuenschwander of Sartell, Minn., decided to test his skills on the challenging lane condition at the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC before competing at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.

The decision proved to be a good one as he left Baton Rouge's Metro Bowl on Saturday in the top three spots in Open Doubles, as the leader in Open Singles and the owner of the event's first perfect game.

Neuenschwander's first set of the day was with Eric George of Waite Park, Minn., and the pair moved into the Open Doubles lead with a 1,822 total. Neuenschwander set the pace with games of 218, 236, 241 and 236 for a 931 total, while George added 278, 167, 256 and 190 for 891. Juan Coston of Baton Rouge, La., and Jason Webb of Slaughter, La., previously held the lead with 1,582.

Because Neuenschwander took advantage of the tournament's dual entry option, which allows competitors to use their four-game series for doubles and singles at the same time, his 931 effort also helped him to the top of the Open Singles and Dual Entry standings.

"We bowl the Bowlers Journal to practice on a tough condition," said Neuenschwander, who is the manager of Great River Bowl in Sartell. "The Open Championships is our main focus, but it's always good to go over there and bowl well. I don't expect our scores to hold up, but if they do, great. I'd rather leave with the lead and go from there."

Although Neuenschwander and George left with doubles lead, their bowling styles usually aren't the best fit together. Thankfully, they were in sync at the right time.

"Honestly, we usually don't match up well together," said George, who made his seventh USBC Open Championships appearance. "We've been bowling together for a long time, and it's very nice to leave with the lead. Hopefully, our score will get us in the top 10. There are a lot of good bowlers who will come behind us, so we'll hope for the best."

In a separate doubles set, Neuenschwander rolled the first perfect game of the 2012 Storm Bowlers Journal Championships, capping off the exciting day.

The 46-year-old right-hander rolled games of 207, 211, 214 and 300 for a 932 set and teamed with Barry Zimmerman of Grand Forks, N.D., who added an 818 series for a 1,750 total and third place overall. Zimmerman found his own big-stage success when he rolled the first perfect game of the 2010 Open Championships in Reno, Nev.

"It felt great," said Neuenschwander, who is a member of the Mid-Minnesota USBC Hall of Fame. "The first three games, I just kind of muddled along. I was playing out to start, and then it got a little drier, and I made a move in. It's always great to shoot a 300 game, especially on a tougher shot like that. It felt good."

Neuenschwander and Justin Schiffler of Freeport, Minn., are second in Open Doubles at the Bowlers Journal Championships with 1,757.

Across town at the Baton Rouge River Center, Neuenschwander closed out his 12th Open Championships appearance with 688 in singles, 682 in doubles and 582 in team for a 1,952 all-event total, which is tied for 24th place in Regular All-Events. Ryan Whitney of Lewisville, Texas, leads with 2,170.

Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.