Columbia 300 News


Minnesota bowler shoots 300, leads singles at 2015 USBC Open

Matt Cannizzaro

USBC Communications
Published: March 24, 2015 |

EL PASO, Texas - Chad Oachs of Mankato, Minnesota, has been plagued by a series of injuries, but it definitely didn't show as he finished off the first perfect game of the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old right-hander's most recent setback came early in his team event at the El Paso Convention Center when he tweaked his back, but he did everything he could to make sure it didn't affect him during doubles and singles.

With the help of some ibuprofen, a hot shower and a few minutes in a massage chair at the convention center, Oachs said he felt pretty good overall, but a few fundamental mistakes hurt him in doubles. 

A late ball change, a move left on the approach and a different hand position helped things fall into place for singles, which he started with 17 consecutive strikes before an 8 pin ended his run. 

Oachs finished his 19th Open Championships appearance with games of 300, 253 and 219 for a 772 series and grabbed the top spot in the Regular Singles standings. Mike Pelham of Clinton, Iowa, previously held the lead with 748.

Tuesday marked the 18th day of competition at this year's USBC Open Championships, which is scheduled to run for 128 days and welcome nearly 40,000 bowlers to The Sun City before concluding July 12.

"I knew coming in the conditions were going to be tough, and I knew where I wanted to play, but after I hurt my back, I just couldn't get anything going," said Oachs, who shot 479 in team and 555 in doubles. "I definitely wanted to bowl today, but I figured I would have to fight through some pain. I woke up early to get ready, and it loosened up for me, so I felt pretty good today."

As the strikes added up, Oachs and his teammates wondered if the scoreboard would change color like it does at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada. His teammates also reminded him that he'd been on the verge of perfection at the Open Championships before, hoping to motivate him to surpass the 299 he rolled in doubles at the 2003 tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee.

"I got up in the 10th and just wanted to throw good shots," Oachs said. "I had 299 last time, so I really wanted to get the job done this year. For a minute, it looked like that wasn't going to happen, but something tripped the 4 pin. This is a wonderful accomplishment and something I've always dreamed of. To shoot 300 here is incredible, and to leave as the singles leader is more than I ever could've hoped for."

Until he started practicing two weeks ago, Oachs hadn't bowled in 13 months. 

His troubles started with a shoulder injury in 2013 that required surgery and kept him off the lanes, and off the drill press in his pro shop, for more than four months. He returned to the lanes for two weeks early in the 2013-2014 bowling season, but a serious knee injury sidelined him again until it was time to prepare for this week's trip to El Paso.

"I didn't want to miss the tournament or a good time with friends two years in a row, so I was really glad to be here with them," said Oachs, a former standout at the University of Nebraska and owner of Chad's Pro Shop inside Mankato's Wow! Zone. "We have a great group, and they were very helpful and supportive. On the lanes, I had to adjust my approach and abbreviate everything, but that helped me slow down and made my ball reaction much cleaner. It turned out to be a great trip." 

Oachs finished his 2015 Open Championships campaign with a 1,806 all-events total. Chris Pounders of Madison, Wisconsin, leads Regular All-Events with 2,008.