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Area bowlers get annual 'reality check' while competing in USBC Open tourney

USBC Open, bowling, 2014 tournament, Sarasota-Manatee, Bill Herald
USBC Open, bowling, 2014 tournament, Sarasota-Manatee, Bill Herald

Every year, some people claim that scores posted in the United States Bowling Congress Open Championship Tournament are far too high, based upon the number of honor scores and the scores needed to win or place high in the standings.

However, the fact remains that, even though overall scoring figures were a bit higher than those in recent years, very few entrants -- apart from the best players and shotmakers -- scored at high levels in the competition at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.

This year, the entire field averaged 171.79 -- with a total pinfall of 68,401,949 over 398,179 games -- as compared to 168.3 over 461,357 games in 2013.

The Classified Division -- consisting of bowlers with entering averages of 180 or under -- averaged a composite 149.24 this year, while the composite average in the Regular Division was 178.38. And because Regular Division players have averages of 181 and higher -- with many them entering at well over 200 -- it's obvious that most bowlers shoot far lower scores than they do back home on generally much-easier lane conditions.

Considering the scoring levels of the 87 bowlers from the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte County area who took part in the USBC Open, most of them received the usual "reality check" as only three of those 87 -- Kevin Hoeppner, Beth Owen-Cipielewski and Lillian Sitze -- managed to surpass their back-home league averages.

The complete area contingent turned in an overall average of 25.4 pins per game below their normal league scoring pace, and only 11 of them managed to come within 10 pins per game of league norms.

Hoeppner turned in the highest-over-average performance, rolling a nine-game all-events score of 1,711, putting his pinfall 109 over average, based on his entering 178 figure. Owen-Cipielewski was 48 over her 192 average with 1,776 all-events, and Sitze was 19 over her 158 average with 1,441. And although he was slightly under average, former touring pro Kent Wagner easily topped all area entrants with a 2,029 all-events effort.

Not surprisingly, players entering with averages of 200 or better took the biggest tumble. Of the 41 area bowlers who entered with averages of 200-plus, only Wagner and Donald Baldwin (39 net pins below average) came within a dozen pins per game of their "normal" league scores. And those 41 "high-rollers" were a composite 35.9 pins per game under their respective entering averages.

Among the 65 bowlers in the Regular Division (averages of 180 or better), that group was 31.1 per game under average with a composite 174.1, while the 18 Classified Division players were only 9,6 per game under average with a composite 152.9. Combining area entrants from both divisions, the overall composite average was 169.3.

In addition to Wagner, other area players achieiving scores of 1,800 or better in all-events included Donny Bartlett (1,851 with a 220 entering average) and Daniel Gassera (1,831 with a 230 entering figure).

Year after year, such sub-par performances -- especially by those with 200+ averages -- clearly indicate that lane conditions represent the primary factor in modern-day scoring levels because regardless of what high-powered equipment the bowlers brought to Reno from Florida -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- few were able to come close to matching back-home scores.

To gain easy access to complete USBC Open scoring data -- including the leaderboard, individual results, low-to-cash figures and estimated prize fund -- click here.

[You may subscribe to Bill Herald's bowling articles -- free of charge -- by clicking on "subscribe" near the top of the column, after which you will receive e-mail notification each time a new item is published.]

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