Zikes joins 100,000 club

by Bob Johnson 0

ABC/USBC of Famer Les Zikes of Palatine, Ill., has a bowling resume filled with accomplishments at the USBC Open Championships (formerly known as the ABC Championship Tournament), and he added another milestone to his legacy at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno on Thursday night.

The 75-year-old right-hander entered the 2010 USBC Open Championships needing 272 pins to become the newest member of the tournament's elite 100,000-Pin Club, and he got there in the 7th frame of his second team game. As always, his wife, Mary Cay, was by his side, and he was joined on the lanes by his granddaughter Cathy Kipp and his son, Lyle, who covers the pro bowling beat for BJI.

Zikes posted games of 171, 178 and 150 for a 499 series as he became the 12th bowler in 107 years of tournament competition to eclipse the 100,000-pin mark. Late USBC Hall of Famer Joe Norris of San Diego tops the all-time pinfall list with 123,770.

"Tonight was very special," said Zikes, who is the proprietor of Beverly Lanes in Arlington Heights, Ill. "I was hoping to bowl better for my teammates, but it was a big thrill. I only needed 272 pins to get to 100,000, and for a minute, I thought it was going to take me all three games to get there. I do feel very proud and very fortunate to be able to bowl for that long."

Zikes began his Open Championships journey at the 1950 event in Columbus, Ohio, as a curious 15-year-old. Just 12 years later, he claimed the first of his six titles as he helped Strike 'n Spare of Chicago to the top spot in Regular Team at the 1962 tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. He added another Regular Team title in 1963 and Regular All-Events and Team All-Events crowns in 1964 to become the only bowler in history to win in three consecutive years.

The hall of famer later took home the Classic Singles title in 1975 and Classic Team in 1977. He also is a two-time PBA national champion and a three-time winner on the PBA Senior Tour.

Over the years, Zikes also found international success, winning gold medals at the 1963 and 1967 World Championships and the 1964 Pan American Bowling Confederation Championships.

"I have had a lot of milestones," Zikes said. "To win three consecutive years against that many bowlers, you have to be at the right place at the right time. I have had so many big thrills, and tonight, achieving 100,000 pins and receiving a crystal pin, was another one for me. I am so lucky to have been at the right place at the right time. Someone has been looking out for me."

Although Zikes has made 58 Open Championships appearances, he said every year seems like his first.

"I still get goose bumps when I walk down center aisle," Zikes said. "When a team walks down the center aisle, they may act nonchalant, but they are really nervous. There is something about this tournament that 70,000 bowlers look forward to. I still feel the butterflies when I walk down the aisle, and I hope I always will."

There aren't many milestones left for Zikes to achieve, but he does have his eye on making 60 Open Championships appearances. Only 13 bowlers have reached the 60-year mark.

"If I'm healthy, I will be back," Zikes said. "The last few years, I have had a few physical problems, which has not allowed me to practice like I normally would. I feel pretty good right now, and if I feel this good next year, I will be back. So if I am healthy, I hope to reach 60."

Zikes closed out his 2010 tournament campaign with 581 in singles and 513 in doubles for a 1593 all-events total. In 58 years on the championship lanes, he has knocked down 101,321 pins for a career average of 199.8.

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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