HAMMOND | Since 1983, there's always been one squad in the Times/Pepsi Classic with a few more big names from the local bowling scene than the others.
Saturday's 3 p.m. squad was the one Olympia Lanes general manager Mike Kozy puts together annually, the one that often contains the Class A winner. Last year's champion, Chuck Podkul Jr., and the 2011 champion, Billy Oatman, were both in the house. Others whose names have been engraved in the plaque were present as well.
"People know that everything is run the right way, the proper way and they just want to be a part of it," Kozy said. "I've been doing this now for 30 years."
Despite the history in the room, it was Jamal Brown who stole the show.
This 2013 tournament's first 300 game came off his fingertips in his third game. A small crowd developed and cheered for the final strike. The Chicago resident high-fived and hugged friends and competitors.
"I just tried to repeat the shot over and over, just consistency," Brown said. "I saw something, as far as the ball was turning, and I just tried to repeat it over and over again."
Brown was able to repeat it in 21 of 22 frames in his final two games. He's only the 21st bowler in Classic history to roll a perfect game. Brown had a 754 series total, which he hopes is good enough help him reach the finals for the second time in a decade of trying.
"I feel beautiful (about my chances)," Brown said. "I bowl my leagues (at Olympia), but I've never been able to do anything in this tournament."
Kozy had a rough start but a stellar day. He and tournament director Don Rodkin run the tournament and bowl simultaneously, but Kozy overcame a 185 in his first game to finish with a 762 series.
Some crucial advice came from Greater Calumet Bowling Association hall of famer Frank Moore in the fifth frame of the last game after Kozy left two 10 pins.
"He said 'what are you going to do?' I said 'I should change balls,'" Kozy said. "He said 'then, what are you waiting for?'"
Kozy rattled off eight consecutive strikes to finish his day.