Peoria’s Kyle O’Meara won a national bowling championship in Nevada in late June, but may have been one of the last people on the lane to know it.
More than 52,000 competitors in several divisions took to the lanes at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas to compete in the U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championships from July 6 to July 8. With an overall score of 1,732, O’Meara captured the tournament’s Classified Division All Events championship.
“For me it’s a pretty big deal. It’s always been a goal of mine to eventually do it, but I didn’t realize it would be so soon,” said O’Meara, 30. It was his fourth national competition.
O’Meara, who began bowling in a Peoria league seven years ago, entered the tournament to enjoy a vocation and compete for a title. He works full time and bowls with a Monday night league.
With a weekend of team, doubles and singles events, O’Meara’s tournament started off weak, as the team struggled with what he described as “dry” — or not well-oiled — lanes. However, when the individual doubles and single events started, the spares and strikes started coming.
He was caught up marveling at the bowling stadium, filled with the bowlers’ friends and family. He felt he was performing well, but was surprised when he saw his name on the leaderboard. His combined singles and doubles scores were enough to claim the championship by 14 points over the second-place finisher.
“We went as a big group, about 15 people, so there were some I knew on both sides of me,” he said. “It really felt like another Monday league night, joking around and having fun. I wasn’t really focused on the score, but eventually I looked up and saw I was in first.
“People from 10-to-five lanes over congratulated me on how I was doing that day. But I was just kind of oblivious, which was the best way for me to not choke or overthink it.”
O’Meara has still not received his trophy. He expects it will either come in the mail or in a celebration either in Vegas or another city outside Arizona.
While he did not return with the physical award in hand, he did come back to Peoria with a renewed zeal for the sport. He hopes to continue competing, possibly in more statewide and national events, and if they go well, consider playing at a semi-pro or professional level. For now, though, he is just enjoying his time on the lanes.
“I’d like to see where it can go and take it a little further,” O’Meara said. “But, I just mostly do it for fun now. If the opportunity arises to go higher, then absolutely I’ll take a look at it.”