ARLINGTON, Texas – Reigning United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials champion Jakob Butturff turned last year’s victory into an impressive rookie campaign on Team USA, and the 23-year-old left-hander hopes to continue that momentum this week in Las Vegas.
The 2018 USBC Team USA Trials and United States Amateur Bowling Championships will head to The Orleans starting Wednesday, and bowlers from across the country will compete for the chance to represent Team USA and Junior Team USA in 2018.
A sold-out men’s field of 175 players and record 142 female competitors will begin the first of five qualifying blocks Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern. Each round will consist of six games on a different World Bowling lane condition.
Butturff, who resides in Tempe, Arizona, will be joined in the field by defending women’s champion Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, and 2017 U.S. Amateur champions Matt Russo of Millstone Township, New Jersey, and Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois.
With their wins at Team USA Trials, Butturff and McCarthy earned the chance to represent Team USA at the 2017 QubicaAMF World Cup in Hermosillo, Mexico, in November.
Butturff finished his Team USA debut in Mexico with a World Cup win, defeating Colombia’s Oscar Rodriguez in the title match, 246-201.
McCarthy, a 27-year-old standout on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour, just missed advancing to the championship round, finishing her first World Cup in fifth place.
Butturff found success again the following month as he helped the men’s team win the coveted gold medal in team competition at the 2017 World Bowling Championships, held at the nearby South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas.
The success also came with a learning curve for the two-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour titlist, and Butturff hopes to put it all together this week at The Orleans for another successful run at a spot on Team USA.
“You can always learn the most during the first year, and I was able to learn from some of the best players and coaches out there,” Butturff said. “I was able to add a lot to my game, and it gives me a lot of confidence moving forward. Being able to win the World Cup and a gold medal is something I’ll always be able to cherish, and with all of the practice and effort I’ve put into it, I feel like it’s going to be another great year.”
Competitors at Team USA Trials will earn ranking points based on their finishing positions in each of the five qualifying rounds – the top bowler of the round earns one ranking point, second place earns two points, etc. – with the lowest total of ranking points after five rounds determining the men’s and women’s Team USA Trials champions. Each will earn an automatic spot on Team USA for 2018.
In addition to the title and spot on the team, the winner of each division also will represent Team USA at the 2018 World Cup. The location of the 2018 event has not been announced.
The top four men and top four women at the 2018 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 The Orleans.
The National Selection Committee also will select a maximum of five men and five women for the team based on submitted resumes. Those applicants must have been Team USA or Junior Team USA members within the last 10 years or among the top 25 in earnings during the 2017 PBA Tour season or top 25 in points during the 2017 PWBA Tour season.
After Sunday’s final qualifying round, the top three amateur men and top three amateur women will advance to a stepladder to determine the U.S. Amateur champions. Both winners will earn spots on Team USA.
If the U.S. Amateur champion already has earned a spot on the team, the spot will be awarded to the next-highest Team USA Trials qualifier based on ranking points.
For youth competitors, the top four boys and top four girls, based on ranking points, will earn automatic spots on Junior Team USA 2018. Two additional boys and two additional girls also will be selected by the National Selection Committee based on performances from either the 2018 Team USA Trials or 2017 Junior Gold Championships.
They will join the youth competitors who already earned their spots on Junior Team USA 2018 through qualifying at the 2017 Junior Gold Championships in the greater Cleveland area.
The boys who have earned their spots in 2018 are David Hooper of Greenville, South Carolina; Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California; Jeffery Mann of West Lafayette, Indiana; Michael Martell of Brooklyn, New York; Pete Vergos of Apopka, Florida; Ryan Winters of Livonia, Michigan; and Kristopher Yadao of Pearl City, Hawaii.
The girls team in 2018 will include Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina; Crystal Elliott of Palm Bay, Florida; Julia Huren of Westland, Michigan; Caitlyn Johnson of Lumberton, Texas; Allie Leiendecker of Wooster, Ohio; and Alexis Neuer of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
To be eligible for this year’s U.S. Amateur, a bowler must not hold or have held a professional membership (PBA or PWBA) in 2017. Also, anyone who has won a professional title (regional, national or senior) as a professional is not eligible to compete as an amateur.
BOWL.com’s BowlTV will provide wire-to-wire coverage of the events, including the announcement of Team USA and Junior Team USA 2018.
For more information on the Team USA Trials and U.S. Amateur, visit BOWL.com/TeamUSATrials.