WICKLIFFE, Ohio – At just 65 pounds, Rylan Breese of Wilmington, North Carolina, actually weighs less than the five bowling balls he brought to the 2017 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International.
The 11-year-old two-hander, who attacks the lanes from the right side, turned heads Friday at Game of Wickliffe as he rolled undefeated through match play, and bowling fans will get to see his powerful strike ball in action Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network as one of four finalists in the 12-and-under division at this year’s Junior Gold Championships.
His national television debut will come on the first of five TV shows being taped Saturday at Game of Wickliffe, one of the seven Cleveland-area centers being used for this week’s event. The show will air Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Rylan will face 12-year-old left-hander Brandon Bohn of Jackson, New Jersey, the son of United States Bowling Congress and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III, who earned his spot on the show by defeating John Nunn of Jacksonville, Florida, twice in the final round.
Rylan did not initially seem intimated by the magnitude of the opportunity.
“I’m pretty excited about it, and it feels really good that I didn’t lose at all today,” said Rylan, who made his third Junior Gold Championships appearance and improved on last year’s 33rd-place finish. “I know it’s going to be very different because of the lights and because everyone will be focused on us, but I know I will do OK.”
The show also will include the girls’ U12 championship match between Lauren Hunter of Smithton, Illinois, and Karina Capron of Fremont, Nebraska.
Lauren, a 12-year-old right-hander, entered the final round of match play without a loss but fell to Madison Colston of Seminole, Florida, 358-350, forcing a rematch. Lauren won the second meeting, 392-369, to secure her spot on TV.
“I tried to stay focused the entire time and not let anything faze me,” said Lauren, who just missed match play at the 2016 event in Indianapolis, finishing in 12th place. “My parents offered me some advice, too, and that helped me find my way to pocket.”
Karina, an 11-year-old right-hander, downed undefeated Jenna Hedgepath of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 357-344 and 432-344, to advance. She opened their second battle with a 243 game to put the rematch out of reach early.
The U12 division of the 2017 Junior Gold Championships featured 243 boys and 124 girls, who each rolled 16 games across four bowling centers, before the top 35 boys and top 18 girls advanced to an additional four-game round Friday morning.
Twenty-game pinfall totals determined the eight boys and eight girls who advanced to their respective double-elimination match-play brackets, where total pins over two games decided who advanced.
Rylan found his best look of the week Friday at Game of Wickliffe, and he focused on making spares and staying calm.
He says his favorite bowler is Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte, but his own adoption of the two-handed style came out of the need for ball speed his stature wouldn’t allow him to generate.
He and his 14-pound equipment often can be found practicing or bowling tournaments on the challenging lane conditions offered by his local bowling scene. He also is very competitive with his 17-year-old brother, Nick Myer, who competed in this week’s tournament.
Friday’s action also included two rounds of advancers competition for the U15 and U20 divisions, followed by two rounds of double-elimination match play.
The finals of the U15 and U20 divisions will air on CBS Sports Network on Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, respectively, both at 8 p.m. Eastern. The other two shows will be the U12 and U15 finals of the 2017 USA Bowling National Championships, airing Aug. 15 and Aug. 22.
The top four boys and top four girls in the U20 division after 26 games of qualifying automatically qualified for 2018 Junior Team USA, if they were age-eligible. The official announcement will be forthcoming.
In addition, the winner and runner-up after bracket play in the U20 division also make the team. If one or both of the finalists in the bracket already earned a spot through qualifying, the next age-eligible athlete based on the qualifying standings will take the spot. Bowlers must be age 20 or younger as of Jan. 1, 2018 to be eligible.
The top age-eligible male and female bowler in the U15 divisions at the conclusion of 26 qualifying games and the U15 bracket champions automatically qualify for the U15 Developmental team. These individuals must be age 15 or younger as of Jan. 1, 2018.
The final rounds of match play in the U15 and U20 divisions will take place Saturday morning at Game of Wickliffe, with the TV tapings scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Among the remaining players are defending U20 champions Jeffery Mann of West Lafayette, Indiana, and two-time Junior Gold champion Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina.
All rounds of match play leading up to the TV shows are being broadcast live on BowlTV.
The 2017 Junior Gold Championships included more than 3,500 participants.
For more information on the Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International, visit BOWL.com/JuniorGold.