Roto Grip staffer John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, N.Y., held on to win Regular All-Events with a 2,228 total at the Open Championships in Reno, capping off a successful year that included a win at the 2013 USBC Team USA Trials. He also was a member of the New York City WTT KingPins team that recently won the inaugural PBA League Elias Cup.
Szczerbinski used a Roto Grip Disturbed™.
"It has been a long wait filled with ups and downs, but to have my score hold up is a pretty tremendous feeling," said Szczerbinski, who had 789 in singles, 777 in team and 662 in doubles. "Not a lot of people get to win an eagle, especially at such a young age, so it's really special."
Szczerbinski, a 25-year-old right-hander, nearly claimed the Regular Singles title as well. His 789 series topped the standings for almost two months, before 20-year-old Zeke Bayt of Westerville, Ohio, posted a 795 singles set on June 16.
Bayt put together games of 288, 268 and 239, which included a dramatic final frame, where he needed five pins to secure at least a tie for the lead. He knocked down seven pins to end his second Open Championships appearance on a winning note.
"I feel phenomenal," said Bayt, who added 647 in team and 611 in doubles for a 2,053 all-events total. "This is the biggest thing I've ever done. I think surreal is the best word to describe it. I still almost don't believe it happened."
When Lodge Lanes Too of Orlando, Fla., rolled the highest team score in 110 years of United States Bowling Congress Open Championships history, team captain John Gaines was excited, but he wanted to save the celebration for when the feat also meant the team title at the 2013 event.
The 46-year-old right-hander now can revel in the moment as the conclusion of this year's USBC Open Championships at the National Bowling Stadium on Sunday earned him his fourth win on the championship lanes.
Lodge Lanes Too opened its team event April 2 with a 1,206 game and added 1,167 and 1,165 for a 3,538 winning total. Bruegger's Bagels of Albany, N.Y., previously held the team record with 3,537, rolled in Tulsa, Okla., in 1993.
Former Team USA member Vernon Peterson led the way for Lodge Lanes Too with a 772 series. Team USA member John Janawicz secured the record with three strikes in his final frame on the way to a 752 set. Gaines added 681 and was followed by 1987 Team All-Events champion Mitch Jabczenski (669) and Professional Bowlers Association Tour titlist Scott Newell (664).
The win is the third for Janawicz, the 2004 Regular Singles and Regular All-Events champion, and the first trip to the winner's circle for Peterson and Newell.
"It has been a long few months with a lot of close calls from some really good teams, and now that I'm older and have been there before, I have a pretty good grasp on the title and truly can understand and appreciate what it means," said Gaines, one of 43 bowlers in history with four or more Open Championships titles. "But the record, and knowing we bowled the highest score in history, really hasn't sunk in yet. I don't think it will until I see the banner hanging up next year."
The end of the tournament's 125-day run meant redemption for former Team USA member Erik Vermilyea, a 2010 Regular Doubles runner-up, who helped his team to the Team All-Events crown this year with a 10,247 total, the 10th-highest in Open Championships history.
Vermilyea's teammate, Roto Grip Staffer Jeff Mersch (1901), earned his first Eagle.
The 29-year-old right-hander finished with a 2,097 all-events total and was joined by Steve Novak (2,153), PBA champion Anthony LaCaze (2,050), Matthew Tuckfield (2,046) and former Junior Team USA
"This is such an amazing feeling," Vermilyea said. "We led for a month in 2010 and really thought that score was going to win. To come back like this and be able to share this moment with the whole team is unbelievable."
Brian Burkhardt of St. Louis and Rick Gatlin of Eureka, Mo., each turned in clutch performances late in their doubles set May 21, which included a split conversion from Burkhardt and seven consecutive strikes from Gatlin, to take home the Regular Doubles title this year with a 1,440 total.
The two have bowled doubles together all but once during their 11-year careers at the Open Championships, and now, their names will be side by side in the record books. Gatlin led the way with a 736 series, while Burkhardt contributed 704.
"I thought this day would never get here," said Gatlin, a 53-year-old right-hander. "We tried our best to track it and watch when the notable bowlers were out there, and a couple of times, it got scary, but we prevailed. It's something I never expected, and it is an amazing feeling."
In the Classified Division, Daniel Pero of Tacoma, Wash., showed he's on the mend after battling a number of physical ailments in recent years that have kept him from the championship lanes. His first trip to the tournament since 2007 ended in memorable fashion as he earned the 2013 Classified All-Events title with a 1,807 total May 29.
The 54-year-old right-hander shot 658 in doubles, 585 in singles and 564 in team, and the win marked his second Classified All-Events title, with the first coming at the 2000 event in Albuquerque, N.M., with a 1,911 total.
"I really thought I lost it due to the exhaustion and hitting the wall during singles," Pero said. "I've been checking every day, sometimes two or three times. I was checking about 10 minutes before I got the call and realized it was the final day. It's an awesome feeling."
George Atkinson Jr. of Henderson, Nev., also has battled a series of injuries and surgeries but bounced back to claim the Classified Singles title with a 663 effort April 11.
The 62-year-old right-hander closed his 20th Open Championships appearance with games of 208, 215 and 240.
The Classified Doubles title went to Jose Rivera of New Sharon, Iowa, and Ronnie Licht of Montezuma, Iowa, who combined for a 1,209 total May 15. Licht led the way with a 620 series, and Rivera contributed 589.
Schmitt Reddi Mix 2 of Bennett, Colo., earned the Classified Team title with a games of 887, 949 and 927 for a 2,763 total.
Ray Green led the way with a 628 series and was followed by Randy Taylor (591), Ron Morgan (520), Dan Palmer (514) and Kent Stoker (510).
The 2013 Open Championships kicked off its record 11th trip to Reno on March 1 and brought 10,253 five-player teams to the NBS. For the first time in history, two Sport Bowling-certified lane conditions were used - a 41-foot oil pattern for team and a 39-foot pattern for doubles and singles.
This year's event featured 33 perfect games, 13 299s and four 298s, while an additional 27 bowlers rolled 11 consecutive strikes. A record number of teams topped the 3,400 mark (20), beating the previous record of seven at the 2011 event, also at the NBS.
Dean Billings of Rootstown, Ohio, and Eric Espinda of Albuquerque, N.M., tossed the only 800 series of the year, 813 and 837, respectively, with both coming in team. Espinda's set included three 279 games, breaking the tournament's triplicate record.