Greenfield’s O’Neal competes in U.S. Open

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GREENFIELD — With the Women’s U.S. Open Bowling Tournament taking place in Indianapolis, local talent got a chance to shine near home.

After advancing through pre-tournament qualifiers, Greenfield’s Tandess O’Neal made the final field and competed in the tournament last week at Royal Pin Woodland.

The event was not only the biggest of the Greenfield-Central alum’s career, but also the biggest event on the PBWA Tour.

“I chose not only the hardest event, but the biggest event,” O’Neal said. “I did it because it was in Indianapolis and I was super close. I thought, why not, there’s nothing to lose, so might as well go out and try.”

With top bowlers from all across the world taking part in the event, O’Neal tied for 89th out of 108 bowlers. Over 24 games she knocked down a total of 4,584 pins for an average of 191 per game.

Malaysia’s Li Jane Sin won the event with a 214.39 average over the course of 57 games.

“I just wanted to have a lot of fun and learn something at the end of the day,” O’Neal said. “I was able to accomplish that.”

Unlike most other tournaments O’Neal competes in, the U.S. Open was nonstop action for multiple days.

After placing second in the pre-tournament qualifier last Tuesday, O’Neal practiced all day on Wednesday and then competed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day of competition included eight games.

“There are definitely things I could improve on, but I just wanted to bowl this to see. I’m choosing to take away the positives from the event,” O’Neal said. “I bowled close to 44 games in five days which is so many more than I’m used to in college. It definitely took a toll on my body, and I’m still dealing with some pains.”

At the college level, O’Neal is already a decorated bowler for Marian University. This past season she was named to the NAIA All-American Third Team, was named Crossroads League Bowler of the Year, and was All-Crossroads League First Team for the third year in a row.

The U.S. Open was a chance for her to gain experience as she prepares for her senior season.

“It was crazy. I went into not really having any expectations just because I knew I had to bowl in the pre-tournament qualifier. I just wanted the experience because I’m a college bowler as well,” O’Neal said. “I thought it would be super helpful going into my senior year, and I just wanted to see what the tour was all about and if that was something I would want to take the next step to after college.”

Along with helping her get ready for her senior season, it gave her a chance to see how she stacks up against the top women bowlers all across the world.

“It puts a lot of things into perspective and it shows that I can compete with the bigger-name bowlers. For the past eight years, I have been bowling with a team. This was more for myself and to see what I could do without a coach and without anyone really there to help me,” O’Neal said. “It just showed that I’m able to go out and compete with these bigger-named women, and hopefully I can be one of them one day.”

With the tournament being held in the heart of Indiana and just a 45-minute drive from Greenfield, O’Neal had an outburst of support over the course of the tournament.

Social media posts and messages, along with an array of in-person supporters helped make the event even more important for O’Neal.

“It made it super special. I had a lot of support on Facebook, my family came out, my boyfriend and his family were there, and my college coach and my friends were able to come,” O’Neal said. “It was really cool to see my support system show up with it being in the center of Indianapolis.”

With the experience now under her belt and one more collegiate season to go, O’Neal hopes this year’s U.S. Open was just the first of many big tournaments she’ll be competing in at that level.

“It was a wild experience and I can’t wait to do it again,” she said.