Central Open Results


Joe Zinna & Bob Schneider








The US Lawnbowling Hall of Fame’s newest member shows that he still has what it takes.  Joe Zinna teamed up with Bob Schneider to win the Central Division Pairs.  Giving Bob and Joe a close run for the title was the team of Max Cavender and Jim Cavender.  Joe Zinna was awarded his Hall of Fame plaque in a brief ceremony at lunchtime for which Central Division president Anna Witt provided sub sandwiches and three different kinds of cake!  Oh yes, she also gave Joe the award.  


Leif, Max, & Bob

Leif, Max, & Bob

Two very close games decided the singles contest.  Max Cavender and Bob Schneider were both undefeated going into the last 18 point game.  Max was up 17 to 16 when a close measure went against him to tie the game at 17.  On the last end, Max drew close to the jack, but Bob then drew it dead.  Max’s last bowl went a little bit wide giving the win to Bob.  Leif Andresen outlasted Rob Behncke to win by two shots to finish in third place.

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Central US National Championship Playdowns

Grzybowski and Andresen Qualify in Pairs

Cavender, Andresen, Grzybowski, & Schneider

Going into the final game of the round robin, the one loss team of Jim Grzybowski and Leif Andresen were up against the undefeated team of Bob Schneider and Jim Cavender.  A close game resulted in a win for Jim G. and Leif to finish in a tie for first.  In the playoff the following morning Grzybowski and Andresen were able to win their second straight game against Schneider and Cavender, who are both multiple time national champions.  Carl Landgren and Mark Mathwig finished in third place.

Anna Witt and Rebecca Nguyen will be the women’s representatives at the National Championships.  Kudos to Bob Schneider and his greenskeeping crew for the great condition of the greens which were running in the 13-14 second range.

Behnckes Will Be Packing for San Francisco in Singles

Rob Behncke withstood a determined challenge from the veteran Carl Landgren to eke out a victory  in the men’s singles.  Carl won the closely contested first game, but was unable to maintain his momentum in the following two games.  Rob was able to prevail in the double elimination playoff.  With the temperature pushing 90 degrees, both players seemed to wear down towards the end of the three game final.  Rob and Carl also had to deal with many pesky fly(er)s.  An Air Show was going on featuring the USAF Thunderbirds.  Despite the “Thunderous” noise, both players somehow managed to keep their focus and play great bowls.

Along with Rob, Olia Behncke will be playing in the women’s singles.  They follow in the footsteps of other married Central Division entrants such as Edie and Bert McWilliams, Dora and John Stewart, and Lois and Ken Degenhardt.  Good luck to all.


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Son of a Potlicker Prevails in the 20th Edition of the Potlicker

Max Cavender and his dad Jim cruised through the competition to win the Potlicker Cup on its 20th anniversary.  This is the first win for both.  Max did his usual masterful job as skip while Jim played steady lead bowls and provided some fatherly lawn bowling wisdom to his son Max.  Jim was around for the original event 20 years ago (by way of explaining the headline),

The Cavenders were undefeated going into the last game against the one loss team of Bob Schneider and Joe Zinna.  Behind on points going into the game, Bob and Joe needed to win by eight shots to take the title.  Max and Jim won to remain undefeated and close out the tournament.  Bob and Joe’s loss dropped them into third place behind the one loss team of Leif Andresen and Carl Landgren. 


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2019 Central Division Schedule

After a long hard winter we are finally gearing up for a new Lawn Bowls season, so its time to put away the surfboards.  Here is the 2019 schedule.  Entry forms will be found by clicking the individual event.

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Central Players Represent US

Bob Schneider and Anna Witt did the Central Division proud over the winter in international tournaments.  Bob Schneider played in the World Championship Singles in March in Warilla Australia.  This event was played on an extremely fast artificial surface, something we in the US do not often encounter.  In the qualifying round, Bob had several wins to finish in the middle of his flight. missing out on the finals.  One of his losses was in an epic battle against the overall Silver Medal winner.  Set one of their game ended in a tie. but in set two, Bob came up a couple of shots short.  Nevertheless, he had a great experience and did a fine job representing the USA.

Anna Witt, pictured at the top right, played Vice Skip for team USA at Tiger Bowls in China.  Due to bad weather, the tournament organizer was forced to change the normal fours format and set up three separate events.  The games were played at a number of different venues, sometimes changing from outdoors to indoors making it difficult to maintain any consistency.  The teams in each event were divided into two flights with playoffs for the top two in each flight.  Team USA struggled on the artificial carpets and didn’t make the finals in events one and three.  Event two was a different story, as Anna describes in here own words:

“Tournament 2 (One Belt One Road Zhuhai) was in Hong Kong and Zhuhai. The women were now 10 teams and again split into 2 pools. We played round robin within our pool We played outdoors on the grass at one of the previously closed clubs in Hong Kong and dominated on day #1. We then traveled to Zhuhai, where the green is a 2-rink indoor carpet on the top floor of a hotel. All teams played the last game of the round robin at Zhuhai. Again, the top 2 teams in each pool advanced, which included us this time. We lost to South Africa in the semifinals.”

Well done ladies.







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Central’s Joe Zinna Named to US Bowls Hall of Fame

Joe Zinna was recently recognized for his outstanding lawn bowls career by being elected to the US Bowls Hall of Fame.  Joe has been a force in Central and national tournaments for almost forty years.  He has won many division championships and has appeared in multiple National Championships where he has won gold three times.  He also represented the US in four North American Challenges and skipped for Team USA in the Atlantic Games in Scotland. 

Joe’s other contributions to the game of bowls include two terms as the Central Division president along with a stint as the division head umpire.  He was also the president, vice president, and treasurer of the Rockford Lawnbowling Club.  Currently he is serving as a selector for Team USA.   Even though Joe has significantly cut back on his playing time over the last several years, if you meet him on the greens today do not anticipate having a happy time of it.

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Gil Stephan, Central Division Great Passes Away

NAC Team Captain 1998

Gil Stephan started bowls in 1970 in Milwaukee and went on to win many Central Division tournaments as well as to have a major impact on the national and international scene. He was a long time co-chairman of the North American Challenge. He also ran many tournaments in the Central Division and at the Milwaukee Lake Park club. The Otto Hess tournaments he ran way back when they still consisted of 16 triples teams were legendary for their organization and their amenities. Gil will be missed by his many friends.

Here is the biography from his Lawn Bowls Hall of Fame entry:

R. GIL STEPHAN Jr. -Sun City (AZ) -2003 Nicknamed “Gillie” by his closest friends, Gil Stephan began his lawn bowling experience in April of 1970 as a member of the Milwaukee Lake Park LBC. After moving to Arizona he was a South-Central Division Councilor to the American Lawn Bowls Association from 1990 to 1996. Gil was the President of the ALBA in 1997 and 1998 and the President of the South-Central Division in 1999 and 2000. Again on the national scene, Gil chaired the National Open Tournament in 1993 and 1998; was National Tournament Director for eight years; a national umpire for over 16 years; and Chairman of the National Open Senior Tournament in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Gil has won more major tournaments than can be mentioned here. However, he is probably best known for his leadership as Team USA Manager. In 1995 and again in 1999 at the Asia Pacific Games and as Team USA Manager, Gil guided the team to finish high enough to qualify for the World Bowls Tournaments in 1996 and 2000. He was also the Team USA Manager at World Bowls in 2000 which led to team qualification for World Bowls 2004 .

After his move to Arizona, Gil returned to Wisconsin every summer and continued his contributions to the Milwaukee club, where he was more than happy to pass his knowledge on to younger bowlers.

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2018 National Championships

Jim, Anna, Rebecca, & Bob

The 2018 Nationals were uncharacteristically unproductive for the Central Division representatives.  It started even before the tournament started with pairs skip Rob Behncke losing his balance while jumping from post to post on the beach and breaking his ankle only two days before the start of the event.  Normally the second place team would then be the entrant.  However, with such short notice, only Leif Andresen from the second place finishers was able to fill in.  Leif arrived in Florida about 9PM before the start of games the next day to play with Jim Cavender.  Despite Leif’s lack of practice, Jim & Leif were very competitive, highlighted by games against two of the teams which tied for first place that were determined by the last bowl.  Also, the scurrilous accusations that Leif was somehow responsible for Rob’s broken ankle have no basis in fact.  Rob’s brother has video proof.  Rob was married a week after the tournament.  Despite being hobbled by crutches, he managed to do a stand up job of it.

In the Men’s Singles, Bob Schneider was on track to finish in second place.  He was ahead in the last end of his final game when his opponent trailed the jack in the ditch on his last bowl causing Bob to finish in fourth place.  Anna Witt and Rebecca Nguyen were also very competitive but finished back in the pack.  Jim, Leif, Anna, Rebecca, and Bob are all former National Champions, so I’m sure that better days are ahead as well as behind.

The best news from this event was the win of Steve Nelson in the Men’s Pairs.  Steve is two or three years removed from the Central Division, but he is still one of us.  Way to go Steve.

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