Buendiger, Minnesota Select Sires on top at Nationals
Paul Buendiger knows he may not be the best bowler on his team, but he knows, right now, his team is the best in the nation. Buendiger and the Minnesota Select Sires 1 currently maintain a stranglehold on the top spot of the United States Bowling Congress’ Standard Division at the Open Championships at South Point Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
Buendiger finished with a 542 series, while the team rolled games of 953, 1,102 and 957, finishing with a 2,922 series. They took the lead from Wildcat Lanes of Wayne, Neb., who posted a 2,688. The next closest team currently is from Livingston, Mont., who sits in second place with a score of 2,778.
Buendiger said his role on the team is to be the consistent bowler that hits his average and picks up spares. He did just that helping his team to first place. Andrew Karsten was the team leader, finishing with a 725. Arvid Strande came in with a 625, while Scott Molnar ended with a 528. Carl Krause ended the event with a 488 for the Select Sires.
“The day was fabulous. A couple of our bowlers bowled very well and I bowled about my average,” Buendiger said. “Two bowled good enough to get us to where we are at. It was a good day.”
Buendiger has been bowling for 45 years and carried a 184 average into the tournament. Buendiger has bowled in the tournament for nine years and is now scoreboard watching and plans on doing that through July.
“We have a pretty good lead, but it’s a long tournament. We are about a third of the way through the tournament,” Buendiger said. “There will be in the neighborhood of 5,000 teams in our division and 15,000 teams in the whole tournament.”
Buendiger said it’s a marvelous feeling leading the tournament. They were told you can’t win the tournament unless you leave Las Vegas in first place. He said it has brought a few tears to his eyes.
“You can’t do it by yourself, because it takes a group to do it,” Buendiger said. “You have to get along good with them, bowl well together and things have to go right. In my age at 68 years old, I never thought I’d get there. It’s a true blessing.”
Buendiger said they realized they were closing in on first place when they rolled 1,102 in the second game. He knew if the team rolled around an 800 in the third game, they would be in range. In the seventh frame, the team broke through and secured first place. Buendiger said it was a phenomenal feeling.
“You will never believe the feeling of the adrenaline high that you are on. I have never been that naturally high before in my life,” Buendiger said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s built because as the day goes on, it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. When our anchorman threw eight strikes in a row, the cheering got louder from further out. It’s phenomenal.”
Buendiger bowls once to two times a week with his wife Kaie, who also bowled at the USBC National Tournament. Buendiger won the King of the Hill Tournament two of the last three years at the Cactus in Perham. He said bowling is a way of life for him. He added he is glad he has bowling to get him through the winters.
Buendiger said he saw a lot of potential in the team heading into the tournament. Krause and Molnar average more than 200, while Buendiger said he is the team’s steady player, averaging in the 180s.
“I won’t have the glaringly big game, but I won’t have a terrible game either. I’m pretty much the rock,” Buendiger said. “I’m the steady stone. I told Carl we had a good chance at it. We came out with a 950 in the first game and it was going well. We just needed a little momentum and in bowling when you start getting momentum, everyone gets fired up and everything starts going well and that’s the way it went.”
Buendiger said the shot was tough and his main goal was to avoid splits and pick up spares. The move worked well for him. Buendiger said Krause tried a line the professional bowlers in the tournament avoided, yet it paid off for him. Buendiger said people were amazed he was able to score as high as he did.
“We have seen so many different conditions over years, so we adapt faster than a lot of other bowlers,” Buendiger said. “The second day we didn’t bowl so good. We were so high from the first day, we didn’t care. It’s a super feeling that very few people in their life get a chance to experience. I know I was happy when I got married, but this is close.”