Butturff, Russo and McEwan lead at 2017 Team USA Trials

by Aaron Smith, USBC Communications 0

HENDERSON, Nevada – Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, and Matt Russo of Millstone Township, New Jersey, are tied for the men’s lead after Thursday’s second round at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials, while defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, leads the women.

Butturff (nine ranking points in Round 1 and three points in Round 2) and Russo (eight points in Round 1 and four points in Round 2) are pacing the men’s field at Sunset Station’s Strike Zone Bowling Center with 12 points. McEwan (two points in Round 1 and four points in Round 2) leads the women’s division with six points.

The players earn points based on their finishing positions in each qualifying round. The top bowler of the block earns one ranking point, second place earns two points, etc., with the lowest total of ranking points after the five six-game blocks determining the 2017 USBC Team USA Trials champions.

Butturff and Russo have put together nearly identical performances through the first two days of the event. Butturff finished Thursday with a 1,387 six-game total to place third for Round 2, while Russo finished one spot behind him with a 1,374 total.

Butturff had a banner year in 2016, winning his first two Professional Bowlers Association Tour titles and a record nine PBA regional events. The left-hander is hoping to continue the momentum into 2017, and he believes some of the similarities between him and Russo have been the keys to their success so far at Sunset Station.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want to improve on last year,” Butturff said. “So far, this has been a successful start to the Team USA Trials and 2017, so I’m hoping to ride this success the rest of the week. Typically, I like to throw urethane and really weak equipment, and it has matched up well for Matt and I. We’ve been talking the whole week and have been able to stay further left using weaker equipment.”

Russo earned a spot on Junior Team USA for the first time at the 2016 Team USA Trials, and he’s put that experience to work during the first two rounds this year.

“The biggest thing I learned from last year’s event was to stay with the process,” Russo said. “I’m doing what I know how to do and sticking with it. If I make what I have work and it turns out my way at the end of the week, it does. It’s been a great week so far, and I’m excited to get back on the lanes tomorrow.”

AJ Johnson of Oswego, Illinois, is third overall with 20 points, Devin Bidwell of Wichita, Kansas, is fourth with 24 points and Bryan Hahlen of Greenwood, South Carolina, is fifth with 25 points.

Andrew Cain of Phoenix led Thursday’s second round on the 40-foot Athens oil pattern, rolling a perfect game on his way to a 1,396 total. Matthew O’Grady of Rahway, New Jersey, finished second with 1,393.

Las Vegas’ Dallas Leong also recorded a 300 game during Thursday’s second round, bringing the total to six for the week on the men’s side.

After posting a 1,384 total in Wednesday’s opening round, McEwan nearly matched the effort Thursday with 1,383 on her way to a fourth-place finish. The three-time Team USA Trials champion knows the formula to succeed at the event, but she’s not looking too far ahead.

“I’ve had success in this tournament in the past, so I’m keeping the same mindset that has worked in the past, while continuing to grow each year,” said McEwan, who also won Team USA Trials in 2012 and 2013. “I’m happy with how it’s going so far, but you’re never in good shape in this tournament until the last ball is thrown. I still need to show up the next three days and bowl my heart out in order to be up there at the end of the week.”

Opening-round leader Sydney Brummett of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is second overall with 10 points. Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey is third with 13 points, and Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, and defending United States National Amateur Bowling Championships winner Stephanie Schwartz of Racine, Wisconsin, are tied for fourth with 16 points.

Parkin made her jump into the top five after leading Thursday’s second round with a 1,448 total. The seven-time Team USA member started her block with a 300 game, the first on the women’s side, on her way to averaging more than 241 for the block. Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, was second with 1,419, and Bryanna Caldwell-Coté finished third with 1,391.

The U.S. Amateur also is being contested during Team USA Trials. The top three amateur men and top three amateur women after Sunday’s final round of qualifying will advance to a stepladder finals, which will determine the U.S. Amateur champions. The winners will earn spots on Team USA.

The top three amateurs on the men’s side are Russo (12 ranking points), Bryan Hahlen of Greenwood, South Carolina (25 points), and Thomas McNeal of Seattle (37 points). The top three amateurs for the women are Brummett (10 points), Schwartz (16 points) and Haley Richard of Tipton, Michigan (17 points).

To be eligible for the U.S. Amateur, a bowler must not hold or have held a professional membership (PBA or Professional Women’s Bowling Association) in the preceding year. Also, anyone who has won a professional title (regional, national or senior) as a professional is not eligible to compete as an amateur.

Competition continues Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern with the third round of women’s qualifying. BOWL.com’s BowlTV will provide wire-to-wire coverage of the event.

A minimum of 12 men and 12 women will join Team USA 2017. The top four men and top four women at the 2017 Team USA Trials, based on ranking points, will earn automatic spots, while two additional men and two additional women will be selected by the National Selection Committee from the pool of players that competed during the week at Sunset Station.

The National Selection Committee will select a maximum of five men and five women for the team based on submitted resumes from Team USA or Junior Team USA members within the last 10 years or those in the top 25 in earnings during the 2016 PBA Tour season and top 25 in points during the 2016 PWBA Tour season.

For youth competitors, Junior Team USA 2017 will consist of 12 boys and 12 girls. The top four boys and top four girls at the 2017 Team USA Trials, based on ranking points, will earn automatic spots, while two additional boys and two additional girls from either the 2017 Team USA Trials or 2016 Junior Gold Championships will be selected by the National Selection Committee.

They will join the six boys and six girls who already earned their spots on Junior Team USA 2017 through qualifying at the 2016 Junior Gold Championships in Indianapolis.

For more information on the USBC Team USA Trials and U.S. Amateur, visit BOWL.com/TeamUSATrials.

2017 USBC Team USA Trials
At Sunset Station’s Strike Zone Bowling Center, Henderson, Nev.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS

ROUND 2 – TOP 20
(Position, name, hometown, six-game total)

MEN

1, Andrew Cain, Phoenix, 1,396.
2, Matthew O’Grady, Rahway, N.J., 1,393.
3, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 1,387.
4, Matt Russo, Millstone Township, N.J., 1,374.
5, Darwin Wimer, Mesquite, Nev., 1,370.
6, Tristan Leyen, Perry Hall, Md., 1,353.
7, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 1,346.
8, Thomas McNeal, Seattle, 1,342.
9, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 1,335.
10, Dallas Leong, Las Vegas, 1,330.
11, Aaron Yuratovich, Babson Park, 1,328.
12, Andrew Cannuli, Moorestown, N.J., 1,327.
13, Bryan Hahlen, Greenwood, S.C., 1,323.
14, Brent Boho, Colgate, Wis., 1,322.
15, Richard Paul III, Winton, Calif., 1,320.
T16, Alex George, Wichita, Kan., 1,317.
T16, Nick Kruml, Downers Grove, Ill., 1,317.
T18, Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., 1,315.
T18, AJ Chapman, Wichita, Kan., 1,315.
20, Alexander Lankford, Wichita, Kan., 1,310.

WOMEN

1, Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., 1,448.
2, Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 1,419.
3, Bryanna Caldwell-Coté, Red Rock, Ariz., 1,391.
4, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 1,383.
5, Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 1,378.
6, Stephanie Schwartz, Racine, Wis., 1,376.
7, Rebecca Gotterbarn, Garden City, N.Y., 1,324.
8, Paige Kraushaar, Crown Point, Ind., 1,320.
9, Sydney Brummett, Fort Wayne, Ind., 1,317.
10, Julia Bond, Aurora, Ill., 1,314.
11, Adel Wahner, Las Cruces, N.M., 1,311.
12, Stephanie Zavala, Downey, Calif., 1,295.
T13, Giselle Poss, Montgomery, Ill., 1,285.
T13, Haley Richard, Tipton, Mich., 1,285.
T15, Kayla Johnson, Washington, Ill., 1,284.
T15, Shannon O’Keefe, O’Fallon, Ill., 1,284.
17, Lauren Hoffman, Monroe Township, N.J., 1,277.
18, Correen Lieber, Tolleson, Ariz., 1,269.
19, Megan Eaglehouse, Cibolo, Texas, 1,264.
20, Laura Branch, Victory, N.Y., 1,262.