Area bowlers roll into Las VegasGarden Center sends 40 bowlers to USBC Open Championships
By: By Eric Morken, Sports Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
Alexandria’s Garden Center Lanes was well represented at the 2009 USBC Open Championships bowling tournament in Las Vegas recently.
A total of 40 area bowlers traveled to Las Vegas with friends and family to take part in the tournament, which features numbers ranging from 60,000 to 90,000 participants every year.
The group from Alexandria features about 30 bowlers who bowl in leagues at Garden Center Lanes. Bowlers from Benson, Jamestown and even Canada also made the trip with their party.
Kelly Aeikens of Benson represented the group pretty well in Las Vegas. Aeikens finished second in the singles classified division, which features bowlers with an average of 180 and under. He missed out on winning the singles division by just two pins against Dennis Tomhave of Vermillion, South Dakota. Aeikens bowled games of 193, 228 and 256 for a three-game score of 677.
Alexandria has been taking groups to the tournament for years. Chad Meyer just finished his 13th event and said it never gets old.
“We’ve been doing it for quite a few years,” Meyer said. “This is something my grandfather started doing years ago. Charlie (his father) has almost 30 in himself. We had never taken a group this big before, but being it was in Vegas, it was a lot easier to talk people into it.”
The tournament is an open format for all members of the USBC. The opportunity is there to come back with a nice prize package as more than $90 million worth of prize money has been awarded since the tournament’s inception in 1901. This year alone, the event had a balance available for prizes of more than $7,457,000.
“We usually try to get as many guys from our party into the classified division because it gives our guys more of an opportunity to win,” Meyer said. “We’ve had champions in that…we are going down there thinking we have people who have an opportunity to win the thing. The guys in the classified division, we are looking to go out there to try and make some money.”
There was plenty of opportunity to try and make some money both on and off the lanes with the event being held in Las Vegas this year.
The Open Championships have been hosted all over the United States during its more than 100 years of existence. St. Paul hosted the event three times – in 1941, 1951 and 1965.
Only once has this historic sporting event been interrupted. World War II put things on hold from 1943-45.