2023 Storm Utah Open Rankings 13-9
It’s that time of the year again. 19 years Martin Luther King Jr day has been marked on bowlers calendars. A new year, and a new Storm Northwest Tour season comes upon us and with it comes one of the toughest tests in bowling. What started out as a tournament to find the next Storm staffer, has evolved to much more. It’s history is filled with moments we will never forget, most recently, an emotional Josh Link winning after a significant loss in his life and completing the repeat, Randy making the 4-7-8-10, then striking in the 10th to win, Josh Blanchard being the first to repeat since Scott Norton in the tournaments first 2 years, Clay winning a record setting third title, and the list goes on. The most prolific names in the northwest and some from all over the country sit at the table of champions here at the Storm Utah Open. Norton, Flynn, Kinney, Turner, the late Bob Scadden, Rees, Hackleman, the late Jeff Conradi, Harrington, Groat, Blanchard, Link, and Miles. Now, bigger than ever, what moments will we witness this year? Who among the 600 plus who will test their might and come out Sunday night a champion? Who will add their name to the exclusive list of Storm Utah Open champions? Someone new? Or a name we already know.
I know I say this a lot, how stacked the field is and how hard it is to pick just 13, but I mean it this time. Never have I had a roster where so many names have resumes like this event. Surely I will snub someone, but this time, I have no choice. Some names to look out for that did not make the list are past champion Chuck Groat, Mike Sagers, Carolyn Dorrin Ballard, KT Simpson, Rob Lund, Brandon Smith, and Riley Woodard. As our biggest event we have covered to date, we here at Championship Bowling hope you enjoy it as much as we will. Let's dive into the bowlers I think have the best shot at winning the biggest iteration of this tournament ever.
13. Kendle Miles - Kendle Is the first to make my list for a few specific reasons. First, he has a lot of experience at this center and tournament. He understands the grind and can mitigate damage when inevitably everyone catches a bad pair. Second is I think the pattern will match up to him. I tested the pattern and have a fairly good understanding of how it will play early on. In years past the quicker you could get left the better, but this year will be different. There is no hold in the middle of the pattern. The only way I or the other testers could really score was from right, which I think Kendle will be able to do just fine. I think Kendle has the right tools later on Sunday to figure out how to play the burn, which I don't know what will work on that yet. I feel we will see a lot of bowlers bowl a second squad regardless if they make it the first time just to get some shots in on the burn. Lastly, Kendle is due for a breakout performance. I Want to see Kendle make a deep run and get on the step ladder with a shot to win. The guy is fun to watch bowl and we want to show you all that on TV. Overall, if Kendle can gather himself mentally when the pattern transitions and the cut gets tight on Sunday, he has a shot at nabbing his fathers crown.
12. Daria Pajak - Daria is coming off a 4th place finish at the Storm Grand Finals where she bowled great for most of that tournament only running into issues on 15 and 16. She has some experience in this center, but not a ton which will be difficult to overcome, but she is used to bowling in some older centers where pair to pair they can get ugly. She has the talent to become the 2nd woman to win this title and join the likes of Tammy Turner, but some concern I have is with how she will match up to the pattern. Urethane will be in play early on and once the pattern breaks down, the jump left is going to have to be massive. This concerns me with everyone, but with her more matched rev rate and speed It’s going to be tough to find a way to hit the pocket and strike. The carry at Sparetime is already very difficult, and finding ball reaction on a pattern as tight as this one is going to be really hard. She has the tricks, but like I mentioned before, this is one of the toughest tests in bowling, so those tricks better be very sharp. I know she has the ability to strike with this field, and if she catches the breaks when she needs them, she could be the next Utah Open Champion.
11. Giorgio Clinaz - This may look like a snub to a lot of people, and it might be, I had a hard time putting Gio this far down. But when we look at Gio’s performance in this center, it’s not on par with what he has been able to do on the rest of the SNWT. After winning the Idaho Master, his Grand Finals run wasn’t what he had hoped. Again Tough Guy isn't a center he matches up well with. He made a good showing at the RPI just a few weeks ago though and that momentum may be what pushes him through. At the Championship Bowling Master he missed the cut entirely which was a massive shocker to us. Can Gio crack the code at Sparetime Lanes and make a serious run at the step ladder? I think the pattern will match up well for him. He plays urethane well and his forward ball roll will help with the amount of friction down lane as the pattern breaks down. Time will tell though if he can manage the beast of Sparetime.
10. Dallas Leong - Dallas makes his return to Sparetime lanes for the Storm Utah open after a step ladder final finish at the Idaho Masters and a 9th - 12th place finish at the Championship Bowling Masters. Dallas has been just a few breaks away from grabbing a SNWT title and last year at this very event qualified on the final squad to make it on to Sunday. Dallas has great touch, which I think will be imperative later on Sunday afternoon. Will he be able to string strikes together down the stretch in a center that does not carry well? We have seen this be a factor in the last few Storm Utah Open’s and most recently at the CB Masters. I’m sure Dallas will find a way to grab a top 10, but making the step ladder in this field will take some of those corner and 4 pins to fall.
9. Andy Kinney - Andy ended the 2022 SNWT season on a hot streak making the last 2 step ladders and winning the Grand Finals. Although some time has passed since then, I think he will be carrying some of that momentum into this weekend. He has been throwing the ball phenomenally, and has that soft touch at the bottom of the swing that's gonna help him as the pattern breaks down. That said, this field is so deep with such close competition that one 4 pin or one 10 pin could end anyone's run. Andy was eliminated after 2 matches at the CB Masters at this center after finishing the advancers round in 1st and taking the number 1 spot in the bracket. I think Andy has a chance to join the other multi time winners of this event but like I said before, anything could happen.
The 2023 Storm Utah Open begins at 3 PM Friday January 13th with the first of 10 qualifying squads LIVE on Championship Bowling’s YouTube page! For the full schedule check our pinned post on Facebook and Instagram.