Illinois bowler reaches 50-year milestone at 2021 USBC Open Championships Article Image
By Hope Parsons
USBC Communications

Competition motivates people to strive for greatness, and there is plenty of competition at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships to motivate bowlers for generations to come.

Peter Gurskis of Orland Park, Illinois, has been drawn to the competition at the USBC Open Championships for five decades, since making his debut at the 1969 event in Madison, Wisconsin.

The 78-year-old right-hander was recognized this week at the South Point Plaza for reaching 50 years of tournament participation and was presented with a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin to commemorate his entrance into the 50-Year Club.

He was escorted to the lanes by his daughter, Lisa, and granddaughter, Amanda.

Gurskis was part of a group of nearly 20 Lawn Lanes teams organized by David Supanich, whose father, Rich, joined the 50-Year Club in 2015.

Gurskis claims the highlight of his Open Championships career came when he helped his team to a 10th-place finish in the team event at the 1979 tournament in Tampa, Florida. He bowled a 640 series in team that year and added 611 in doubles and 582 in singles for a 1,833 all-events total.

"Seeing your name on the scoreboard just really lights a fire under you," Gurskis said. "You start thinking you can take first place and be the best in the country. Once I got a taste of that, I was even more hooked on coming to the tournaments."

The dedication and desire to keep bowling better kept getting stronger the more tournaments Gurskis bowled in. In addition to being motivated by his squad's sponsor, he found himself getting more comfortable in the tournament setting.

"When you first start, every time you come to bowl in this tournament there is a bit of anxiety because it's such a big national stage," Gurskis said. "It really gets to you, but after about 25 years of being here, you start to get more competitive."

Continued success in the sport helped earn Gurskis entrance into multiple halls of fame, including the Illinois State USBC, Chicagoland USBC, Joliet Area USBC and Knights of Columbus.

On the lanes this week at the South Point Bowling Plaza and South Point Bowling Center, Gurskis rolled sets of 555 in team and 501 in doubles for a 1,055 all-events total. He did not bowl singles.

In his 50 years at the Open Championships, Gurskis has knocked down 87,527 pins for a career average of 195.8.

Regardless of his age, Gurskis will continue to keep the excitement of competition alive and bowl as much as he can.

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