Jeremy’s Retrospective

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Blog

Written by: Jeremy Bartz, 2013 Gutter to Glory Open Championships Contest Winner

Not too often I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize and actually answer it.  Glad I did as the caller on the other end said “Congrats you just won the Gutter to Glory contest and you are going to Reno!”.  I actually had Tim say that twice as I wasn’t sure I heard that correctly the first time.  I then realized that yes I did enter the contest only 6 hours earlier and now it is starting to hit me.  Pure escalation and joy overcame me as I told Tim I will get back to him very shortly about my ability to go.  Quick phone call to my wife and then another call to Tim and my trip was booked.

Fast forward 5 weeks and I am on my way to Reno.  This will be my 4th Open Championships and I have had modest success in the past but this year would be a little more challenging as I will explain later.  I arrive at the El Dorado hotel and wait for my teammates to show up so we can check in.  We did get notice the day before that Tim would be joining us due to a family emergency (my condolences to Tim) and therefore we will be having another sub join our team.  At the lobby I meet Jim, Zak and Sandy.  I can now see why EPIC Creative is such a great place to work for.  We have a quick “lunch” and then it is off to the Stadium to go watch Steve Richter (Tim and Zak’s coach) bowl.

IMG_20130517_154816_149 At the time, I didn’t realize I would be watching one of the more famous and accoladed teams in Open Championships history.  We get to the stadium and sit up in the bleachers and they are packed waiting for the Team event to start.  I then see Jeff Richgels and Mike Shady walk out of the center aisle and now understand why the crowd was there.  We watch them warm up and I am explaining to Sandy and Zak that they don’t care about striking during practice that they are just creating their hold area.  What did surprise me was during the first game that they were still playing outside and not moving too much.  I also noticed that there seemed to be more backend than normal.  That gave me hope for my Team portion as I am left handed and I usually have to create my own area.  They shoot around 1050 that first game and I knew they were not happy with that game.  We watch a couple more frames and then we leave to go have dinner.

The next day seemed extremely long as we bowl at 7pm and with me being a MI native no matter what time I went to bed I was going to be up my 7am local time.  Sure enough 6:30am and I am wide awake.  I walked to the Stadium and watched some other bowlers and then go see a movie to try to kill some time.  After the movie I head back to the stadium and I just missed watching Ritcher and them bowl their minors.  On hindsight I really wished I would have seen them on how they played the lanes.  I introduce myself to Steve and talk to him for a couple of minutes, very nice and gracious.  I then head back and grab a bite to eat and get ready for our team event.

To anybody that has bowled the Opens, the anticipation of waiting in line for your equipment to get checked to the what seems like the never ending list of awards for the bowlers on the squad can be excruciating.  Jim did get his award for his 28th consecutive Open.  KUDOS on that!  We meet our sub for Tim, Michael, and lets just say he is energetic.  Walking down the center aisle never gets old and I still get goosebumps every time.  Great tradition the USBC does in this regards.  We start practice and I realize right away that I am not going to be playing extreme outside like I have in the past.  My goal was to try to get at least one thirty clean and after the first game mission accomplished as I stayed clean for a 221.  Next game, however, start with split, washout, split.  I struggle through the minor transition and finish with 156.  Next game I decide I am going to move just a little back outside and then increase my speed.  Game was going great til the 10th when I threw the worse shot of the day and left another split for 214.  I finished with 591 for team but I knew I left a TON of pins out there but that is extremely easy to do.  Highlight of team event is when Michael who doesn’t use his thumb left the baby split and missed it by putting his ball perfectly where the 4 pin use to be and missing the 2-10.  The team shot 2378 and I was very happy with that score as we did have 3 first timers with us.

Next depending on who you talk to is the task of walking to the Sands to collect your bracket winnings.  I do not mind it but some bowlers do not like it at all.  I pick up my small winnings and see that Richgels is playing craps and I start a conversation with Mike Shady asking them how they did for team all events and they didn’t meet expectations but they are having a good time.  Later I found out he shot 783 in singles to keep his streak of 1900′s intact.  Thanks Mike for taking the time to talk to me.

If I thought the wait on Saturday was rough, the wait on Sunday was even worse.  We bowl at 10:30pm so I decided to make it a work day since I figured it would make the day go a little faster.  I meet Jim, Zak and Sandy for a early dinner at 4 and then wait for the start of Minors.  The night before when I was talking to Mike he did tell me the lanes played different due to it being only 39 feet instead of the 41 for Team.  I was on lanes 3-4 and the others were all the way on 55-56 and 57-58.  I started playing a little deeper than I did on Team using my Defiant Soul and had 1 open and shot 191.  The second game, I switched to the Defiant and played more straight up 8 as the inside got really nasty.  Struggled to shoot 181 but on my fill ball took the Soul back out and played deeper than when I started and threw a good shot.  The third game I started inside and shot my best game of the Open with a 222.  Finished doubles with a 594 set and again left a lot of pins out there.  Singles I stayed in the same spot and shot a clean 209 so now I am thinking I am going to be cashing in all 4 events this year.  Then my body realized it was almost 12:30 local time, or more importantly 3:30 my time.  I have bowled 15 games in a day before and never felt as tired as I did at the start of game 5.  I absolutely hit a brick wall and my my arm was not doing anything what my brain was telling it to do.  Game 5 was a 148, Game 6 167.  The sad thing is I was kinda proud of that 167 as I battled through extreme exhaustion both physically and mentally.  I shot 524 for singles and that put me at 1709 for all events.  My lowest all events by 50 pins.  I walk down to see the other guys did and Jim was done and he mentioned that he had the first 8 during game 4.  Now that would be nerve racking!

Couple of hours later we are in the lobby and it is off to the airport.  Zak and I had flights at roughly the same time so Jim and Sandy took us.  At the airport said my goodbyes and thanked them profusely for the hospitality and kindness they gave me.   I am EXTREMELY grateful for the opportunity to bowl with Roto EPIC (team name) and thank you very much to EPIC Creative and Rotogrip for giving me one of my favorite trips of all time.