GEORGIA BOWLERS FIND SUCCESS AT 2017 USBC OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS

By Matt Cannizzaro and Brian Hirsch
USBC Communications

LAS VEGAS – With less than 10 days left at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, Dustin Keener of Cleveland, Georgia, and John Carter of Toccoa, Georgia, secured the top spot in Classified Doubles with a 1,133 total Friday night.

The performance marked the second lead change in Classified Doubles this week at the South Point Bowling Plaza and included a 611 series from Keener, a USBC Open Championships first-timer.

Carter, a 60-year-old right-hander whose debut came at the 2016 event, added a 522 series Friday as he and Keener passed previous leaders, Tony Jeppesen and Carlos Soto of Roosevelt, Utah, who previously held the top spot with 1,114.

Keener and Carter may only have a combined three years of Open Championships experience, but they are very familiar with the significance of what they accomplished. They’re also going to have a close eye or two on the leaderboards as the 149-day run of the 2017 event approaches its July 16 conclusion.

“We are going to have everyone we know checking the website to see if we are still at the top, and this is going to be a very long and stressful week,” said Keener and Carter. “If this holds up, we cannot wait for next year to see a banner with our names on it. What an accomplishment that would be.”

Keener’s performance included games of 168, 243 and 200, while Carter added 167, 169 and 186, and it was just a continuation of the success they found with their team Thursday night.

The two helped Carters Royal of Cleveland, Georgia, into second place in Classified Team with a 2,526 total, 43 pins shy of Scotty’s 8 of Alexandria, Minnesota, which leads with 2,569.

“We had a great shot in team, but I opened the first four frames of Game 1 and the last six of Game 3,” said Keener, a 32-year-old right-hander. “I was pretty disappointed. I felt like I sunk the ship.”

Carter’s momentum continued in singles, where he rolled games of 222, 177 and 204 for a 603 series, moving him into sixth place in Classified Singles.

With his 521 set in team, he closed his sophomore campaign at the Open Championships just outside the top 10 in Classified All-Events with a 1,646 total. Keener finished his debut with 477 in singles and 444 in team for 1,532.

Wiley Collins of Winter Springs, Florida, leads Classified Singles this year at the Bowling Plaza, while Nick Stenberg of Big Timber, Montana, leads Classified All-Events with 1,733.

“Dustin told me he added wrong (in doubles), so knowing we did it is a great feeling,” Carter said. “I thought we were going to miss again. Since I thought we both had to shoot a 200 game, and I didn’t do my part, I hoped we’d at least get to the top five.”

A decade ago, a pair of teammates from the same area of Georgia earned back-to-back Classified All-Events titles. Kirby Lomax of Gainesville, Georgia, got the job done in 2006, while Samuel Murray of Toccoa secured the win in 2007.

Regardless of how things turn out score-wise this year, Keener and Carter, who regularly bowl at Toccoa’s Rose Lanes Bowling Center, intend to make the Open Championships an annual tradition.

“We were excited about bowling and interested in checking it all out, as it is definitely a different setting than anything we had bowled in before,” Carter said. “We will be coming out every year. We love to travel and see different places.”

The Classified Division is for bowlers with entering averages of 180 and below. Classified Doubles includes pairs with combined entering averages of 360 and below.

The 2017 Open Championships kicked off Feb. 18.

Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Open Championships Facebook page.

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