Bowlers from across the region turned up at Paupack Lanes this past weekend to participate in a US Open Qualifier. The event attracted 19 competitors...including local keglers Michael Markis, Josh Swingle, John Schaffer and Jim Buckley.

The past few weeks, Wallenpaupack Bowling Center has hosted an array of bowling events.

US Open Qualifier
The action began last weekend on Sun. Nov. 15 when Paupack Lanes hosted its first annual US Open Qualifier.

This event attracted contestants from both local and out-of-state talent pools. The qualifier drew a field of 19 bowlers, including hometown bowlers such as Michael Markis, Josh Swingle, John Schaffer and Jim Buckley, to name a few.

The tournament format, following BPAA mandates, consisted of eight games of qualifying with total scratch pinfall determining the final placements.

The day began quietly, with the high score being a 234...the equivalent of a 270 game on a typical house condition.

As the day progressed however, the cream began to rise to the top, while the scores stayed a bit closer to sea-level.

The abundance of lower scores is typical of the US Open condition, which measures 40 feet and stretches from gutter to gutter. This condition places an emphasis on accuracy, spare shooting and releasing the ball cleanly.

Two years ago, at the Lumber Liquidators US Open, it took a 212 average to make the televised finals.

On Sunday, Lancaster’s Rick Graham walked away with a tournament victory with a 209 average...47 pins higher than the second place finisher.

With the victory, Graham earned himself a spot in the 2010 US Open at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. He will also be reimbursed up to $300 on his travel expenses.

Youth Leaders
While Graham was earning his US Open spot, about 20 miles to the west, 10 local youth bowlers were competing in the kick-off of the 2009-2010 Anthracite Valley Youth Leader campaign at Idle Hour Lanes.

While subbing for one of Pau-pack’s two teams, Honesdale’s Matthew Hafler rolled a series exceeding the 680 marker.

At the end of the day, one of Idle Hour’s four teams would finish in first place. This year is a rebuilding season for the local youth travel league, but officials are confident that the program will emerge stronger than ever.

In the Spotlight
This week, TWI Sports will examine the recent accomplishments of one of the area’s most committed youth bowlers.

Lackawaxen’s Michael Santos has been bowling for nine seasons and has improved exponentially over the years.

Santos recently attained a  personal milestone when he fired his first 600 series of 617 a few weeks back. Carrying a 173 average, Santos is proudly representing Paupack Lanes this year in the aforementioned Youth Leader program.

Santos, when asked about his intentions with the sport, responded saying, “I am definitely considering bowling collegiately.”

This season, compared to last, has given Michael a new approach on the lanes — due largely to his recent conversations with the coaching staff who are on hand each week.

He also has tweaked his release to try and give the ball more roll and drive through the 1-3 pocket.

When asked about his weekly goals, Santos replied, saying “I am always trying to make it into every tournament I can.”