USBC Open and ‘The BJ’ Under Way in Reno

by Bob Johnson 0

The 2013 USBC Open Championships kicked off its 125-day run Friday as the first of more than 10,000 teams hit the lanes at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.

The tournament is making its record 11th visit to “The Biggest Little City in the World” and its eighth trip to the Stadium, where more than 400 bowlers and fans helped usher in the 110th edition of the event.

The opening-night festivities included a ceremonial ribbon cutting, traditional mass ball shot, an exhibition by the cast of “Magique” (a show being hosted by the Eldorado Hotel Casino) and the crowning of “Joe Bowler.”

Michael Mariani of Havre, Mont., earned the latter distinction, a tradition started in 1951. The 61-year-old right-hander was randomly selected from the opening squad and earned the right to throw out the ceremonial first ball.

 Mariani received some coaching tips from USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart as he prepared to make his shot, and then knocked down seven pins to mark the official start of the 2013 tournament.

“Getting picked out of all these people, I thought no way,” said Mariani, who made was making his 12th Open Championships appearance. “I knew about it, but never thought it would be me. I didn’t want to try and take a full approach because the cape hinders you a little, but the best part was just going out and doing it.”

Following the ceremony, Custom Decks of Northfield, Ohio, wasted no time in racing to the top of the leaderboard, taking the early lead in Regular Team with a 2733 total. The team members used a session on the new 900 Global Showcase Lanes earlier in the day to help solidify the strategy that catapulted them into the top spot.

Chuck Lewis led the way for Custom Decks with a 602 series, and was joined by Kyle Oleksy (573), David Oleksy (535), Gene Klonowski (524) and Phil Klonowski (499).

“We practiced for an hour on the Showcase Lanes, and they seemed to be a tad drier down there,” said Lewis, bowling in the tournament for the 19th time. “We talked about it and tried to tighten up each other’s games. Spare shooting is essential. It was very challenging, but it’s nice to be on top at the end of the first day.”

Competition at the 2013 Open Championships will continue until July 7. For the first time, the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC ( is being held in the same venue, conducted at the high end of the 78-lane venue. The newly-added 900 Global Showcase Lanes on the ground floor of the building will be available for team practice sessions and coaching sessions with USBC-certified coach Matt McNiel.

Also a first this year, the USBC Women’s Championships will be held in the same host city at the same time. The 2013 tournament will be contested on 44 specially-constructed lanes at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. That event will kick off April 12 and run for 81 consecutive days, concluding July 1.

For more information on the Open and Women’s Championships, visit Presenting sponsors for the 2013 Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno, and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.


1. Custom Decks, Northfield, Ohio, 2733

2. Weber State Wildcats, Draper, Utah, 2707

3. Texa-Tonka Green 2, Pacific Grove, Calif., 2695

4. Texa-Tonka Green 1, Pacific Grove, Calif., 2686

5. K.S. Delivery 1, Cleveland, 2658

6. Mascoutah Community Lanes, Mascoutah, Ill., 2618

7. Country Floral, Williston, N.D., 2572

8. Bolin Transport, Casey, Ill., 2556

9. Wannabees, Brunswick, Ohio, 2546

10. Wildcat Lanes 1, Wayne, Neb., 2535

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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