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Storm Utah Open Celebrates 20th Annual Event with New Venue and Defending Champion Cameron Henning

Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is here once again and now for the 20th time it hosts the Storm Utah Open. Cameron Henning comes in as the defending Champion in an event that loves its back to back champs. Though this year will be tough as the Storm Utah Open heads south to the Salt Lake valley for the first time. A new venue with new lane surfaces is going to pose a unique challenge to the bowlers this weekend. Also the absence of some pretty big names that have historically performed very well. This leaves a lot of room for a new winner to emerge this year and with only 10 spots on the rankings, it was incredibly difficult to whittle down who those 10 were. Bowlers like KT Simpson, Riley Woodard, past champion Clay Rees, and Dallas Burke were left off, but certainly have a case for a spot in this top 10. The Storm Utah Open has provided too many amazing moments to count, and CB has been a part of some of the biggest. Lets dive into the top 10 that I think will have the best chance at succeeding this weekend. 

10. Daria Pajak - Daria has been abroad for some time now, coming off a solid performance in Korea. Hard to count her out at any event she’s bowling, especially with her experience bowling on hard patterns. I tested the pattern at the venue and it is interesting to say the least. The fresh is getable with urethane or a very strong reactive on the gutter, but beyond that its very very hard. I’m not sure this matches up perfect for Daria, but she has been bowling well and is a world class athlete. Look out for her to make a run this weekend!

9. Manny Ferrell - Manny had an up and down year last year but is coming off a strong finish at the CB TOUR Championship and Team USA Trials. He also finished 4th in this event in 2023 falling to champion Cameron Henning in the step ladder. I think this many will be able to control this pattern better than most with his ball roll, and if he can get out early on the fresh, he should have no problem making another run at the step ladder, This event is much different than CB TOUR events where it is a dead sprint in qualifying and the finals. Like I mentioned before, Manny needs to fire off hot when the getting is good to have a shot when they get real tough.

8. Andy Kinney - I haven't seen Andy bowl in a couple months now since the Grand Finals. Although his hot streak has cooled a touch, Andy has cemented himself as a threat anytime he laces up. I also think Andy will be able to manage this pattern pretty well compared to the rest of the field. His ball roll matches up well, and he is able to play closed angles for longer. Andy is certainly able to throw some good scores early which I think will be everyone's key in the finals. Andy has gotten snubbed on some terrible breaks most notably at the Rumbi Island Grill Classic leaving the 4 pin in his roll off against champion Alex. Andy had a solid finish here last year, but I am thinking this year he improves on that and chases a title.

7. Giorgio Clinaz - Gio is another guy with an up and down season last year. Winning and missing cuts is quite the roller coaster ride. The last time we saw him as at the Grand Finals where he finished very well, but weeks before that in Las Vegas he missed the cut. Historically Gio has struggled at Sparetime but since the venue change, what does this event have in store for Gio? It sounds cliche but again, his ball roll will manage this pattern well, we say this in burley where the gutter played on new panels. I haven't seen Gio bowl in a while so if there's any rust, hopefully he has shaken that off. My prediction is Gio makes a run at the ladder, but will need to find some magic to beat the guys ahead of him.

6. Kyle Morrison - Kyle had a breakout year in 2023, taking 3rd in the CB TOUR points championship, and consistently placing in the top 10 at events he bowled at. We saw Kyle take 4th place on the CB TOUR twice! Kyle has a ton of experience in this bowling center shooting some massive sets. Although the panels are newer, having that kind of confidence here has to be a plus. I think Kyle further proves why he is a force to be reckoned with in this region with a solid finish this weekend, and in the end I think he will have a real shot at making the ladder,

5.  Josh Link - Josh Link is one of a handful of back to back champions falling just short of being the first to threepeat. Josh can still be the first to be a 3 time champion with the only other 2 time winner in the field being Clay Rees. I found some success on the fresh and I think Josh will have the closest rev rate to mine and be able to do similar things that I did to strike. We have seen Josh do some gutsy moves in the ladder to try and win in the past, and this could be another one of those years. My only pause for thought is Josh hasn’t bowled all that much lately and the guys in front of him have been really damn good. Time will tell how much of an effect that may or may not be.

4. Dallas Leong - Dallas is coming off an 8th place finish at the CB TOUR Championship and just narrowly missing the cut at the Players Championship in Kansas. If the flights work out and he makes it on time to bowl this weekend, Dallas was the only player left in the finals plus in this event last year, and was plus 100 going into the ladder. Unfortunate for him the pair he and Cameron bowled on was horrific, and Cameron found a way to grind out a victory. Dallas has been very good all last season, and if he makes it, his ball roll will probably be the best out there on this pattern. Watchout for Dales. 

3. Cameron Henning - Cameron is the defending Champion this weekend, an honor only a handful of people get to experience. Cameron thrives when the pattern is difficult and he may be one of the few I think doesn’t have to go insane in the first round of finals. Cameron can out grind just about anyone and he proved that last year. The only issue is he has 2 of the hottest bowlers in the region in his way. If the pattern gets as ugly as it did last year, Cameron is for sure the favorite. However, the battle these 3 will have is going to be epic regardless.

2. Alex Hoskins - Alex is still searching for his first Storm Utah Open title. He has come very close in the past, but has just fallen short every year he has competed. Alex dominated the first half of the CB TOUR season going back to back in the first 2 events. He was stunned in the CBTC by Riley Woodard which allowed Kendle to capture the points championship. Had those events not occurred, Alex would be CB TOUR season 1 points champ, however, that's not how the story ended. Alex needs to fire off in the finals, and get the momentum on his side to push him though to the step ladder. Once he is there he will be hard to beat.

1. Kendle Miles - Kendle put on one hell of a show in Reno for the CB TOUR Championship. It was a storybook ending for season one and Kendle stood tall in the face of a massive moment. What I have found out is Kendle is exceptionally good under pressure, which the CB TOUR throws you into constantly. These longer finals formats have had Kendle’s number though as he has come so close in the closing games before the ladder. The mountain of confidence he has right now is more than enough to push him through to the ladder. If Kendle can buckle down late in the eliminator, and focus on the task at hand, I think he is the favorite right now in the field. Hopefully I didn’t Madden curse him though.

The 2024 Storm Utah Open kicks off Friday January 12th at 10:00 AM MST with the first of 11 qualifying squads. Tune into Championship Bowling on YouTube to catch all the action LIVE!

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