RENO, Nev. — Although it may have felt like forever to Bellefontaine native Chris Walden, it actually only took a second for a messenger to roll across the deck and take out the 10 pin that nearly denied him a perfect game at the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
Bellefontaine High School graduate Chris Walden rolled a 300 game Monday during the USBC national tournament in Reno, Nev. (USBC PHOTO)
The 26-year-old right-hander stood at the foul line with his hands on his knees, hoping his final offering was as good as his two previous shots, and it turned out to be enough as he logged the eighth 300 of this year’s event Monday at the National Bowling Stadium. It was the sixth in team competition.
“On the last shot, I wanted to make sure I let the ball roll to the breakpoint, and I was just hoping the messenger (the last pin to sweep across the lane) would make it all the way over,” said Walden, who made his fourth USBC Open Championships appearance. “It definitely is a highlight of my career. Bowling here at Nationals, and at the National Bowling Stadium, is the pinnacle of bowling. This feels amazing.”
Bowling and the Open Championships are things Walden is excited to be able to share with his family, especially after being away from the sport for a few years. He was joined on the lanes Monday by his father, Cleve, an eight-time tournament participant.
Walden excelled athletically in high school as a four-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, bowling and football) and even was an Ohio state bowling champion. He later was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 37th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft and earned a baseball scholarship to the University of Kentucky, before returning to the lanes competitively in 2009.
He took on the challenge of collegiate bowling at Urbana University from 2009-2012, and he was able to learn a lot about competitive bowling and lane conditions.
That experience, coupled with a lot of hard work, helped him excel at the Open Championships on Monday.
“The practice on tougher patterns really helped me to learn how to read the lane and play for breakpoints and angles,” Walden said. “The people I’ve been able to watch and learn from during high school and college really helped me out, and it played a part in my success today.”
Walden has spent time recently fine-tuning his game and equipment with help from his pro shop operator, Marland Thomas, and he made sure to practice more frequently on tougher lane conditions.
Although he got off to a slow start Monday, struggling to get comfortable on the way to a 174 opening game, a big move in his second game made all the difference.
“I decided to make a big move left and go back to my benchmark ball and feed it to the breakpoint, and that worked out,” said Walden, who finished with a 233 game for a 707 series to help Goshen Lanes 2 to a 2,811 total. “Shooting 300 here and possibly winning a singles or doubles eagle always are goals, but luckily, I get to come out and bowl with my father, too, and it’s time I cherish with him.”
Cleve Walden had games of 193, 179 and 160 for a 532 series Monday.