Cortez Schenck, a happy winner at the New Mexico Open. (Herron photo)

Missing the tough 6-7-10 split led to Rio Rancho’s J.D. Nance ‘s 229-227 loss to Cortez Schenck in the finals of the 18th New Mexico Open Sunday afternoon at Tenpins & More, but as the No. 1 seed in the finals, Nance got another chance.

This time, with each finalist having but one loss, left-handed Nance faltered on another tough split –the 6-7-10 – and it cost him about $6,000, which was the difference between first and second place.

Schenck, 23, a 2021 graduate of Arizona State University, soon was headed west to his home in Phoenix with a check for $12,000, and Nance was left hugging his wife Nicole and daughter Alex – but with a check for $6,470, which wasn’t too bad for a weekend of bowling.

In the stepladder finals, after 16th-seeded Morgan Moore rolled his way into the quarterfinals after a 228-227 victory over 2015 New Mexico Open winner Jakob Butturff.

Awaiting the eventual semifinal victor was Nance, practicing on lanes 1 and 2, while Moore moved into the semifinals vs. Schenck.

An open third frame hurt Moore, as did five consecutive frames with nine pins on his first ball, which he spared four times.

Meanwhile, Schenck took command in the sixth frame, rolling seven strikes and a spare the rest of the way for a decisive 229-156 victory.

Nance, just needing one win to keep the money in the City of Vision, opened the first of what became two showdowns with Schenck – both using five-step approaches — with back-to-back strikes, then rolled a nine but left the 7 pin standing in the third frame.

As he’d done in his meeting with Moore, Schenck had a strike or spare in every frame, while Nance’s last chance to catch him evaporated when he couldn’t convert that 4-6-10 split in the seventh frame.

Like a shark detecting blood, and trying to shut out the large crowd pulling for the hometown kegler,, Schenck had strikes in five of the final six frames and coasted to a 227-182 win.

That set the stage for the approximate $18K final – winner gets $12,000, loser gets $6,000. ($6,470, as it turned out.)

Again, Nance opened with two strikes, while Schenck muttered to himself as he rolled three consecutive spares.

Before he found the way to roll strikes, which he did in frames 4-9, Nance’s miss in the third on the 6-7-10 – he knocked down two of them – led to an 88-85 advantage for Schenck after five frames, and that turned out to be the difference by game’s end, 233-230.

Of course, it wasn’t as easy as it seems: Nance had 230 after he closed out his game, but Schenck was at 184 after eight frames and had a spare in the ninth to enhance as he approached his 10th frame – and still had a chance to lose it.

Rolling back-to-back strikes, all he needed to win was a pinfall of seven on his final ball – and he got nine of them for his 233.

Schenck, who placed third in last year’s Open after having competed here countless times as a junior – driven here by his late father – thanked his support back home, his girlfriend, his mother and his sponsors.

“(Nance) came within one spare of winning the tournament. (That third frame) put him behind the 8-ball,” said Tenpins & More proprietor and tournament organizer Steve Mackie. “I was real happy for J.D. (Schenck) bowls a lot more tournaments,” Mackie said, adding he’s known the 23-year-old “15 or 20 years.

“We started running (Junior Bowlers Tour) Christmas doubles in 2001; we just bought the place in 1999,” he said. “It was a good effort to come into this place, where his father had brought him to bowl.”

Schenck has known success, even to the extent that he’s not sure if the $12,000 was his biggest purse. And he changed his ball, deciding his urethane ball wasn’t just right for the Mile Miller-lane conditions.

“It seemed like there’s a little more room than usual, but it’s still tough,” he said. “I always look forward to this tournament because it’s known to have a brutal pattern on the lanes every year, and this year did not disappoint. This iconic event had a stacked and incredibly talented field.”

For 21 games, Schenck averaged 220

Where will his winnings go, Schenck was asked.

“Probably savings or investment,” he replied, chuckling.

Mackie said he was happy with 194 entries.

“We picked up 20 in the last week; hardly had anyone dropped out. We had tough lane conditions, as usual. It was one of the best ones we’ve had.”

The accompanying Pro-Am, in which pros were paired with league bowlers, saw former Cleveland High standout Robin Prioleau win the youth division over Reid Ross; married couple Elda and Gary Childers of Santa Fe were first and second in the senior section; Patrick McManaman of Farmington beat Shawn Haines by 19 pins for the adult win. has all three days of the action archived for later viewing.

Tournament organizer, Steve Mackie announced next year’s event, the 19th edition, would be held August 18-20.

Starting to feel his 73-year-old body slowing down, Mackie said.

“Next year (the New Mexico Open) is Aug. 18-20. Hopefully, we can find a major sponsor,” he said, although the ’22 event featured “probably the most touring pros we’ve had.”

Sure. It’s a lot of work, he admitted.

“It’s 10 months annoying people that are potential sponsors and whatnot, but once it’s over, it’s a good event.”