Junior Team USA’s Cortez Schenck Claims Masters Gold, Korea Bags Girls’ Gold at World Youth Championships

by Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications 0

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Cortez Schenck of Phoenix ended Junior Team USA's run at the 2018 World Bowling Youth Championships in memorable fashion, claiming the Masters gold medal Friday at Thunderbowl Lanes.

The girls title went to Korea's Lee Jungmin, who defeated her teammate Son Hyeonji in the championship match.

Schenck, a 19-year-old right-hander, started the best-of-three final with six consecutive strikes, and he threw 17 strikes overall in 2-0 victory over Malaysia's Shahrukh Zulkifli, which included scores of 244-216 and 247-198.

The gold-medal run marked the first medal round of the week for the Junior Team USA boys, who entered the 2018 World Youth Championships as the three-time defending champions in the team event. Team member Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California, also returned as the defending champion in singles and doubles.

"All week long, we were a little depressed and disappointed, especially because we really wanted that team gold, and we came up short," Schenck said. "The pressure was on today, knowing it was our last chance for a medal. I was able to throw some big games along the way, and even when I got nervous, it was nice knowing I had the coaches and my teammates behind me. This is special. This one is for all the boys."

Masters match play this week included the top 24 boys and top 24 girls, who qualified based on their 18-game pinfall totals from singles, doubles and team. Each event featured a six-game format. Seven of the eight Junior Team USA members at the event advanced to the Masters competition, but Schenck was the only one to win a match.

In his 18 games, Schenck averaged 219.83 to finish eighth in the all-events standings, and that performance earned him a first-round bye for the Masters portion of the week.

On the way to the gold medal, Schenck averaged nearly 231 in four matches and lost just one of the nine games he bowled.

The climb included a 2-0 (234-199, 226-199) win against Abdulrahman Alkheliwi of Saudi Arabia, a 2-0 (256-221, 266-217) victory over Sweden's Robert Lindberg and a 2-1 semifinal win against Japan's Hideaki Hata (193-210, 199-186, 213-104).

Zulkifli, who took home the Masters silver medal, earned his spot in the championship match by downing all-events silver medalist Han Jaehyeon of Korea, 2-1 (202-235, 279-210, 227-210).

In the all-Korea girls final, Lee topped Son, 2-0, to claim the gold medal.

After the two tied at 214 in the opening game, Lee won a series of three one-ball roll-offs to officially take the game and a 1-0 advantage. Both players struck on their first two shots, before Lee ended the extra play, 10-8.

Lee won the second game 223-194, giving the Koreans their first win of the 2018 World Youth Championships. Son earned the Masters silver medal.

The two also were part of Korea's silver-medal effort in team, while their teammate, Hong Sunhwa, tied for the silver medal in all-events.

Lee earned her spot in the Masters final by defeating all-events gold medalist Nur Syazwani Sahar of Malaysia, 2-0, by scores of 245-207 and 246-241. Son had to do a little more work against Australia's Emma Williamson, winning 2-1, by scores of 171-179, 227-169 and 192-189.

Sahar, Williamson, Han and Hata each earned bronze medals for advancing to the Masters semifinals.

In the final medal tally on the girls side, the United States and Korea each earned four of the 19 medals available across singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters.

The Junior Team USA girls earned gold in team (Taylor Bailey, Breanna Clemmer, Mabel Cummins, Caitlyn Johnson), silver in singles (Johnson), silver in doubles (Bailey and Clemmer) and bronze in singles (Clemmer).

For the boys, Sweden and Korea each earned three medals to lead the way, and Junior Team USA head coach Bryan O'Keefe expressed his pride in the way Schenck and the rest of the Junior Team USA boys - Bryan Hahlen, Jeffery Mann and Low performed all week.

"It was a tough run for us, but it means a lot to finish the way we did and get a medal," O'Keefe said. "Not only was it a medal, it was a World Championships gold medal at that. Cortez had great ball reaction and bowled well the whole week, and we knew he was going to be tough to beat in this format. I'm excited for Cortez, and I'm really proud of all the guys for fighting hard the whole way."

The World Youth Championships is held every two years, and the 2018 edition brought more than 200 competitors from 37 countries to the Detroit area.

World Bowling provided livestream coverage of the event, and bowling fans from around the globe were able to watch the competition live from start to finish. Coverage included all qualifying, semifinal and final rounds.

For more information on the 2018 World Youth Championships, visit 2018WYC.WorldBowling.org.

2018 WORLD BOWLING YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Thunderbowl Lanes
Allen Park, Mich.

Friday's results

MASTERS

GIRLS

STEP 3
(Winner advances, loser is eliminated from Masters competition)

Nur Sahar, Malaysia, def. Raquel Orozco, Mexico, 2-0 (243-189, 215-201).
Lee Jungmin, Korea, def. Juliana Botero, Colombia, 2-1 (183-192, 190-170, 213-183).
Emma Williamson, Australia, def. Hong Sunhwa, Korea, 2-1 (193-177, 172-214, 227-168).
Son Hyeonji, Korea, def. Maria Bulanova, Russia, 2-1 (180-216, 245-184, 200-194).

SEMIFINALS
(Winner advances to finals, losers earn bronze medal)

Lee def. Sahar, 2-0 (245-207, 246-241).
Son def. Williamson, 2-1 (171-179, 227-169, 192-189).

FINAL
(Winner earns gold medal, loser earns silver medal)

Lee def. Son, 2-0 (214-214 (10-10, 10-10, 10-8), 223-194).

BOYS

STEP 3
(Winner advances, loser is eliminated from Masters competition)

Shahrukh Zulkifli, Malaysia, def. Ghanim Aboujassoum, Qatar, 2-0 (225-190, 231-133).
Han Jaehyeon, Korea, def. Jesse Ahokas, Finland, 2-1 (236-194, 183-218, 194-177).
Hideaki Hata, Japan, def. Georg Skryten, Norway, 2-1 (201-255, 215-204, 174-169).
Cortez Schenck, United States, def. Robert Lindberg, Sweden, 2-0 (256-221, 266-217).

SEMIFINALS
(Winner advances to finals, losers earn bronze medal)

Schenck def. Hata, 2-1 (193-210, 199-186, 213-104).
Zulkifli def. Han, 2-1 (202-235, 279-210, 227-210).

FINAL
(Winner earns gold medal, loser earns silver medal)

Schenck def. Zulkifli, 2-0 (244-216, 247-198).

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