LAS VEGAS - When Jalen Mosley of Indianapolis finished schooling some of the best bowlers in the world during the first round of qualifying at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Masters, his demeanor was calm and he remained focused - not on bowling, but on heading off to work on his language arts homework.
The 16-year-old high school sophomore is taking the week off of school to see where he ranks among the best around, but staying current on his school work is as important as staying above the cutline at one of the premier events for USBC members.
After the first of the week's three qualifying blocks at The Orleans Bowling Center, Mosley is in 74th place with a 1,080 total, and his eyes are on a spot in the event's 64-player double-elimination match-play bracket. His five-game effort Tuesday included a high game of 246 and a clutch finish in the fifth game of the day, in which he struck on five of his final six shots.
"This is a really cool experience, and I'm still amazed I bowled as well as I did," said Mosley, who finished tied for third place in the U15 division at the 2015 Junior Gold Championships and was 36th in the same event in 2016. "My entry to the Masters was a birthday gift, now that I feel like I can compete with these guys this week."
Mosley is one of three 16-year-olds in the USBC Masters field, and the youngest by about a month. The others are Tristan Butler of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Cerell Cardines of Las Vegas.
Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Michigan, holds the lead after five games at the 2017 Masters with a 1,263 total, a 252.6 average. He rolled games of 274, 268, 245, 244 and 232 to pace the 395-player field on this week's 40-foot oil pattern.
Momentum seems to be in Smallwood's favor after a fourth-place finish in last week's FireLake Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions. He also had a runner-up performance at the 2016 PBA World Championship. Prior to the recent run, his last TV appearance came at the 2014 Masters, where he finished fourth.
"As kids, all of us dreamed of bowling on Sundays, and it's been nice to make two shows in such a short time, especially with both being majors," said Smallwood, a two-time PBA Tour champion. "I'm definitely confident coming into this week. With three majors in a row recently, your body gets a little beat up, but you get sharper bowling this much. Now, I just need to keep it simple and grind for the next two days, hopefully get to match play and have that work out how I want."
Smallwood is followed by England's Stuart Williams (1,261), Nick Kruml of Downers Grove, Illinois (1,260), reigning PBA Player of the Year E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Indiana (1,223), and collegiate standout Michael Tang of San Francisco (1,218).
There is a three-way tie at 1,093 for 61st place, making that the cutline after five games.
Defending Masters champion Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, who is guaranteed a spot in the match-play bracket, finished the first round of qualifying tied for 110th place with a 1,063 total. He struggled early but averaged 232 his last three games to make up some ground.
All competitors at The Orleans this week will bowl 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the match-play field. The top 63 players will join Simonsen in the double-elimination bracket, where three-game total pinfall determines who advances.
As the defending champion, Simonsen is guaranteed the No. 64 spot in the bracket, but bowling qualifying gives him a chance to improve his seeding, as well as get a feel for the bowling center and the oil pattern.
Qualifying continues through Thursday, and match play will take place Friday and Saturday to determine the five players for the championship round.
Those five bowlers will compete in the stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 26.
The 2017 Masters features a total prize fund of nearly $300,000 and again is a major event on the PBA Tour. The winner will take home the coveted Masters trophy and $30,000 top prize.
All qualifying and match play rounds of the Masters are being covered live on Xtra Frame, the PBA's online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit PBA.com.
For more information about the USBC Masters, visit BOWL.com/Masters.
2017 USBC MASTERS
At The Orleans Bowling Center, Las Vegas
QUALIFYING - ROUND 1
1, Thomas Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 1,263. 2, Stuart Williams, England, 1,261. 3, Nick Kruml (a), Downers Grove, Ill., 1,260. 4, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 1,223. 5, Michael Tang (a), San Francisco, 1,218. 6, Ian Willard (a), Milwaukie, Ore., 1,214.
7, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 1,199. 8, Francois Lavoie, Wichita, Kan., 1,193. 9, Adam (AJ) Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 1,187. 10, Nobuhito Fujii, Japan, 1,184. 11, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill., 1,180. 12, Eryk Jensen (a), Gresham, Ore., 1,179.
13(tie) Dan Bock (a), Albert Lea, Minn., and Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 1,167. 15, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 1,166. 16, Dominic Barrett, United Kingdom, 1,165. 17(tie) Arturo Quintero (a), Mexico, and Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 1,159.
19, Matthew Sanders (a), Evansville, Ind., 1,154. 20, Casey Shephard (a), Kalamazoo, Mich., 1,152. 21, Dallas Leong (a), Las Vegas, 1,146. 22(tie) Zeke Bayt, Westerville, Ohio, and Steve Pavlinko Jr., Sewell, N.J., 1,144. 24, Manuel Otalora, Cooper City, Fla., 1,142.
25, Matt Zasowski, Tonawanda, N.Y., 1,140. 26, Ronnie Sparks, Redford, Mich., 1,138. 27, Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela, 1,135. 28, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 1,133. 29, Nicholas Pate (a), Inver Grove Heights, Minn., 1,132. 30, Adam Martinez (a), San Antonio, 1,129.
31, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 1,127. 32, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 1,126. 33, Timothy Foy Jr., Seaford, Del., 1,125. 34, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 1,122. 35, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 1,119. 36(tie), Markus Jansson, Sweden, and Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 1,117.
38, Matthew Anderson (a), Las Vegas, 1,116. 39, Maria Jose Rodriguez, Austin, Texas, 1,115. 40, John Verbich III (a), Griffith, Ind., 1,114. 41, Lucas Legnani, Argentina, 1,113. 42, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 1,110.
43, DeeRonn Booker (a), Anaheim, Calif., 1,109. 44, Timothy Behrendt (a), St. Charles, Mo., 1,108. 45, Steve Smith (a), San Diego, 1,107. 46, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 1,106. 47, Mike Dole, Loves Park, Ill., 1,104. 48(tie) Brad Miller, Raytown, Mo., and Jeremiah Smith (a), Mandan, N.D., 1,103.
50(tie) Ryan Zagar (a), Kenosha, Wis., and Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 1,102. 52, Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 1,101. 53(tie) Matt Cabanski (a), Cibolo, Texas, Santiago Mejia, Colombia, Kyle Bigelow, Troy, Ohio, and Robert Campagnale (a), San Bernardino, Calif., 1,100.
57, Anggie Ramirez Perea, Austin, Texas, 1,099. 58, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 1,098. 59, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 1,096. 60, Wesley Low (a), Palmdale, Calif., 1,095.
61(tie), Tyler Cortez Schenck (a), Phoenix, Nathan Bohr, Austin, Texas, and Brennan Haugh (a), Faribault, Minn., 1,093. 64(tie) Michael Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., and Mike Wolfe, Floyd Knobs, Ind., 1,092. 66, Kevin Cook (a), Casper, Wyo., 1,089.
67, Douglas Heimos (a), St. Louis, 1,087. 68(tie), Corey Hines (a), Jackson, Mich., and Andy Neuer (a), Lewisburg, Pa., 1,086. 70, Greg Thompson Jr., San Jose, Calif., 1,084. 71, Danny Khuu (a), Brockton, Mass., 1,083. 72(tie), Shane Holt, Lake Wales, Fla., and Kenneth Ryan (a), Farmingdale, N.J., 1,081.
74, Jalen Mosley (a), Indianapolis, 1,080. 75(tie), Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., and Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 1,079. 77, Joshua Roca (a), Wichita, Kan., 1,077. 78(tie), Steven Badovinac (a), Monument, Colo., and Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich., 1,076.
80(tie), Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., Gary Faulkner Jr., Sanford, Fla., Andres Gomez, Hollywood, Fla., Daniel Fransson, Sweden, and David Scardaville, Houston, 1,075.
85, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 1,074. 86(tie), Greg Ostrander, Freehold, N.J., and Shuichi Heki, Japan, 1,073. 88(tie), Noel Vazquez, Sacramento, Calif., Alexander Hoskins (a), Brigham City, Utah, Lon Peless, Belding, Mich., and Michael Machuga (a), Erie, Pa., 1,072.
92(tie), Francois Louw, South Africa, and Kevin Gallagher, Torrance, Calif., 1,071. 94(tie), Chad Nelson (a), Owatonna, Minn., Martin Larsen, Sweden, and Mike Hanson (a), Spokane, Wash., 1,070.
97(tie), William 'BJ' Moore, Apex, N.C., Raul Rosales (a), El Monte, Calif., Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., and Tim Ursillo (a), Lakeside, Calif., 1,069.
Perfect games - DeeRonn Booker, Anaheim, Calif.