Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith
The scores Matt McNiel of Prior Lake, Minnesota, has rolled at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships over the last six years almost can be described as mind-boggling, and the three-time titlist was at it again this weekend at the El Paso Convention Center.
The 29-year-old left-hander turned in a consistent performance to put himself in position for a third Regular All-Events title since 2010. He rolled sets of 765 in singles, 734 in doubles and 727 in team to move to the top of the standings with a 2,226 all-events total. Rob Gotchall of Clarksville, Tennessee, previously held the lead with 2,181.
"The last game, I made a ball change," said McNiel, who is sixth in Regular Singles this year. "I took a small step right and knew I needed to open up my angles through the front and open up the lanes. My fill ball in the second game was fantastic, and my eyes got pretty big because it looked really, really good. It gave me a lot of confidence going into the third game. If I could keep it on line, keep it close and make a good shot, I was going to get 10. That ball matched up so well with what we did to the lanes. We set them up perfectly."
McNiel's exciting run at the USBC Open Championships started with a record score of 2,326 on the way to the win in 2010, and he followed that with all-events totals of 2,241, 2,202, 2,099 and 2,034. His average over his last 54 tournament games is more than 243, while he has maintained a career average of 231 in nine consecutive appearances.