Illinois bowler rolls first 300 of 2014 Open Championships

RENO, Nev. - Terrence Blevins of Chicago rolled the first perfect game of the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships and catapulted into the lead in Regular Singles and Regular All-Events on Saturday. 

The 44-year-old right-hander put together 18 consecutive strikes on the way to games of 257 and 300 at the National Bowling Stadium, but he came up short in his bid for the event's first 800 series, finishing with 226 for a 783 set. 

He added 633 in doubles and 585 in team for a career-best all-events total of 2,001. Justin Studer of Burley, Idaho, previously held the lead in Regular Singles and All-Events with 713 and 1,983, respectively.

In the games leading up to the 300, Blevins struggled with getting his arm swing where he wanted and fought through the lane transition in the middle of doubles. He made the necessary adjustments and got comfortable, but then came the nerves associated with perfection on the sport's biggest stage. 

"I'll be honest, I did get a little bit nervous," said Blevins, who made his 16th USBC Open Championships appearance. "A 300 here is a little bit different than 300 in league play, so I just wanted to make sure I didn't get too nervous. After about the ninth one, I told myself 'OK, this is what we came to do. Let's try to make good shots and finish it up.'"

After capping off the perfect game, Blevins was well aware of the scenarios developing on the scoreboard. A brief lapse of concentration in the first frame of his final game resulted in a missed spare, but he quickly regained his focus.

"I paid attention to the score, and I definitely knew 795 won last year, so I was basically trying to finish up the last game to see if I could get to 800," Blevins said. "I figured 800 would be a good score. I know scores are a little higher in Reno, sometimes, than in other places, so I figured 800 would possibly be top-five. And if I got lucky enough for it to last all the way to July, that would be the bonus because I was surprised that 795 won last year."

Blevins started his tournament career the same year the NBS opened its doors, and he's found continued success at the one-of-a-kind venue. His previous high all-events score came that year (1,944), and a return visit yielded another memorable run at perfection, where the lights went out after his ninth strike. He didn't shoot 300 that day but used that experience to get it right Saturday. And now, he's headed home as the leader in two events.

"I'm walking on Cloud Nine right now," said Blevins, an electronics engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, who bowls at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park, Ill. "My first year bowling in the tournament was in 1995 when the Stadium first opened. I've bowled well in some sets, and this year, it got progressively better. To be leading singles going home - can't be mad at that, not at all."

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.

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