(Carl and Clark Poelzer possibly are the first father and son to win the doubles Eagle at the USBC Open Championships/ABC Tournament. Photo by United States Bowling Congress)
While none of them will go down in history like team champions Artistic Expressions 1, the remaining leaders who held on to win Eagles as the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships ended Sunday should feel just as awesome.
The last team squad was Saturday and the last minors squads were Sunday at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.
Anthony LaCaze held on for the all-events Eagle with 2,273, Clark and Carl Poelzer held on for the doubles Eagle with 1,465, Louis Jenkins Jr. held on for the singles Eagle with 826, and Janz’s Home Improvement held on for the team all-events Eagle with 10,363.
Notable in that list is the pair of father-son Eagle winners: the Poelzers as possibly the first father-son to win in doubles — USBC will be checking record books to try to make a definitive determination — and Joe and Tim Janz in team all-events.
“To me that is the most exciting thing,” Clark Poelzer said in a phone interview with his son.
LaCaze blasted 2,273 on April 20-21 and was never seriously threatened, with the 2,228 by Tim Damerow that LaCaze passed ending up in second.
The person who might have been the biggest threat to LaCaze — Graham Fach — never was able to bowl minors after firing 836 in team. My story on Fach's saga is here.
LaCaze joined a select group to have won Eagles in consecutive years, as he was part of the team all-events champions in 2013. He is a MOTIV staffer who was the 2009-10 PBA Tour Rookie of the Year and won the 2010 Earl Anthony Classic during his two exempt years on the PBA Tour.
"The first win was an honor, and with this one, I'm speechless," LaCaze said in this USBC news release. "I really owe it all to my teammates. We work hard together, and it has been amazing. Even with everything coming into this year, I was able to focus on what I needed to do. This has been a great run."
Jenkins took the singles lead with an improbable 826 a day after LaCaze finished and also was never seriously threatened, with Chris Murray and Jon Trzcinski tying for second at 802. Warerloo's Matt Riege ended up fifth with 792.
Jenkins’ 826 came after a 527 in doubles, making for one of the biggest jumps between sets in minors ever. "It's a relief now that it's over," Jenkins said this USBC news release. "I've been trying not to think about it, but that's been hard with all of my friends asking me if I was still in the lead. I just never would've dreamed this."
In contrast to LaCaze and Jenkins, the Poelzers' 1,465 barely held on.
“We’ve had a good little run,” Clark said. “In 2013, we were first father-son to win Minnesota State doubles. And last year we were the first father-son to be on the Minneapolis All-Star Team.”
Now that the Eagle has been won, the emotions are somewhat strange, Clark said.
“The night that it happened that was an overwhelming feeling,” he said. “I had tears in my eyes at times while we were bowling. Now that it's over it's exciting. It’s certainly a very gratifying victory. It’s just been a long ordeal wondering if it’s going to hold out.”
The biggest threat came from Chris Drewes and Devin Bidwell, who fell two pins shy of the Poelzers with a single-pin miss late in their final game.
“My heart was beating fast for 30 minutes after I saw that score,” Clark said, adding that he typically checked the scores before and after work each day.
The Poelzers had just two opens in doubles — a 4-9 by Clark in game one and a pocket 7-10 by Carl in game three.
Clark credited the members of his team’s group that bowled with them for sticking to their game plan and helping them develop the shot on lanes 23-24.
“We had just an unbelievable look,” he said. “We did not move much. And I knew at the end of the second game we could beat 1,403 (which was leading at the time). I knew I was in really good rhythm. And Carl was throwing it great. When we were done, I had no clue if we had enough to win.”
Carl said he started doubles “suitcasing it” with his 10-pin shot release up the outside and ended “really cranking on it” after moving inside.
“It opened up so well,” he said. “I was just starting to wheel it at the end.”
Clark said the shot that concerned him was the 7 count he got on his fill ball after doubling in the 10th frame of game three.
“If we had lost by a couple of pins, I would have been devastated,” he said.
As it turned out, they had just enough, with their 452 start the key.
The impact of their success has been big on Carl, who has had a handful of heart surgeries since he was 4 months old and has battled a torn rotator cuff for a few years that limits how much he can bowl.
“I feel since we took the lead you’ve gotten more self-confident,” the father said. “It’s just made him feel more like he belongs and is as good as anybody.”
“Mentally is where I was always struggling,” the son added. “The last three years I’ve been bowling better and better. Three years ago I was throwing the ball well but just couldn’t score.”
While Clark let his emotions get to him and didn’t shoot a big score in singles, Carl went forward and fired a 729 as he totaled 2,155 all-events.
The win also makes the 62-year-old Clark one of the oldest ever to win an Eagle – USBC doesn’t keep an official record.
For those wondering why Poelzer doesn’t bowl PBA50 events, he is a loyal staffer with Visionary and they are not PBA product registered.
Janz’s — which also includes Damerow, Andy Bunkoske and Randy Hupf — had to survive several nervous days after big team scores were shot, particularly when Artistic Expressions 1 blasted 3,720, but ultimately no one came within 100 pins of their 10,363 total.
“That really scared us,” Joe Janz said of the 3,720 in a phone interview. “I thought we were done.”
Generally, he added, “I figured since we did it, anybody can do it. I admit we’re not as good as a lot of these teams.”
But they are not slouches as they have had several other solid showings in recent years, including taking the team lead in 2011 with 3,407.
“We’ve been putting a lot more time into preparing, which we never used to do,” Janz said. “We practiced like 10 times together (before the 2014 Open Championships). Putting time in does make a difference.”
You can put #truth on that statement.
While watching webcasts and following scores, the Janz’s team noticed that “It just seemed like everybody was having a little harder time with the doubles pattern,” Janz said.
The group bowled the Storm Bowlers Championships three times on the fresh pattern, learning and refining their game plan.
“I thought they hooked a little more at the Journal than in tournament,” he said. “We made a few adjustments and moves, and obviously it helped us. In the Journal, we were playing further right and balls either scooted too much or jumped. So we left our covers at lane shined instead of taking them down to 1,000 like past years. And we threw as hard as we could. I think that’s what helped us. We wanted to keep our ball as straight and hard as we could. Watching others I thought it looked like you wanted to be harder and straighter.”
Now the team joins the illustrious group of Eagle holders from Wisconsin.
“It mean a lot,” Janz said. “I seriously never thought I could do it. How many people ever win Eagles? The team all-events because you have to bowl good for 45 games means everything. It’s the same with all our guys.”
Story by: Jeff Richgels • 11thframe.com