BY GENE J. KANAK
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The qualifying portion of the 2022 Junior Gold Championships reached its halfway point Tuesday as bowlers in each of three age-based divisions for boys and girls (18-and-under, 15-and-under and 12-and-under) completed their second four-game qualifying block. That leaves just two days and eight games remaining before cuts are made to the advancers round Friday.
Carter Street of Dublin, Ohio, and Chris LeSueur of Kent, Ohio, remained one-two in the U18 boys standings. Neither recorded a game lower than 200 on Tuesday as Street went 208, 278, 207 and 224 for 917 while LeSueur fired 213, 214, 217 and 254 for 898, giving the pair two-day totals of 1,890 and 1,857, respectively.
Dawson Petersonof Stewartville, Minnesota, used a Day-2 best 954, which included games of 254 and 265, to vault all the way up from 37th place to third place with 1,806.
Jacob Willard of Buffalo, New York, sits fourth with 1,800 while Ashton Yamasaki of Portland, Oregon, is fifth with 1,799.
Melia Mitskavich of Du Bois, Pennsylvania, took the lead in the U18 girls standings, using a 300 during her final game to come in with 920 for Tuesday’s block, giving her a two-day total of 1,756.
Annalise O’Bryant of Ball Ground, Georgia, maintained the second-place position she earned on Day 1. The two-time U15 Junior Gold champion (2018 and 2019) and member of Junior Team USA was steady throughout the second round, shooting 207, 210, 213 and 214 for a Day 2-total of 844, which gave her 1,749 overall.
Brooke Salzman of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, followed up Monday’s 866 with an 865 Tuesday that included 241 in Game 1 and 246 in Game 3. The solid second-round effort gave Salzman 1,731 overall, which was good enough to move her up two spots from fifth place to third place in the U18 girls standings.
Haley Lindley of Greenwood, South Carolina, moved into fourth place with 1,698. Ashtyn Woods of Santa Rosa, California, and Sydney Bohn of Jackson, New Jersey, last year’s third-place finisher among U15 girls, are tied for fifth place with 1,674.
Juliana Kerrigan of Ashland, Virginia, used a 300 during Game 3 to propel herself to 924 for Tuesday’s block, which moved her just outside the overall top ten with 1,661.
Nicholas Schaberg of Holt, Michigan, followed up his opening-round 986 with a steady 800 on Tuesday to remain in first place in U15 boys with a two-day total of 1,786.
Cadyn Pranger of Rockford, Michigan, used an 837 set to move from third place into second with 1,760.
Keegan Alexander of Kileen, Texas, moved into the top three, firing an 867 to come in with a two-day total of 1,709. Alexander is a member of 2022 Developmental Junior Team USA and finished tied for seventh place in U15 boys at the 2021 Junior Gold Championships in Indianapolis.
Defending U15 boys champion Landin Jordan of Sycamore, Illinois, finished Tuesday’s block with 243, giving him 837 for the set and moving him into fourth place overall with 1,691. Jordan, too, is a member of 2022 Developmental Junior Team USA.
Rhett Ryman of Kansas City, Kansas, fired 280 during Game 1 on Tuesday, and that propelled him to an 870 block that moved him into fifth place with 1,686.
Kaitlyn Stull of Raleigh, North Carolina, is the new leader among U15 girls. The 2021 Junior Gold U15 match-play finalist shot 816 during Tuesday’s four-game block to come in with a two-day total of 1,683.
Opening-round leader Gianna Brandolino of Joliet, Illinois, battled through a slow Day-2 start by finishing with games of 219 and 254. The strong finish gave Brandolino 786 for the block, which allowed her to secure second place in the overall standings with 1,680.
Avery Domaguin of San Diego shot 868 to move into third place with 1,648.
Abigail Starkey of Schaumburg, Illinois, used an opening 279 to propel herself to the best block of the day among U15 girls, a 919. That set moved Starkey into fourth place with 1,646. Katelyn Abigania of San Diego is fifth with 1,625.
Ridgely Potter Jr. of Clearwater, Florida, finds himself alone atop the U12 boys standings for the second day in a row. Potter authored a block-best 798 on Tuesday to establish a two-day total of 1,693. That gave Potter an eight-game average of 211.63 and a 155-pin lead over his closest competition.
Miles Gordon of Columbus, Ohio, used a second-round 729 to remain in second place overall with 1,538.
Sebastian Vetter of Oak Lawn, Illinois, and Eason Taylor of Chicago flipped spots on Tuesday as Vetter’s 722 allowed him to move into third place while Taylor’s 689 dropped him one spot down to fourth. Vetter and Taylor sit at 1,501 and 1,486, respectively.
Do Hoon Kwan of Vancouver, Washington, used a second-round 726 to move into fifth place with 1,485.
The top spot in the U12 girls standings still belongs to Anna Antony of Farmington, Connecticut. Antony followed up Monday’s 794 with an even more impressive 810 on Tuesday for a two-day total of 1,604.
Antony is the only U12 girls competitor to maintain an average over 200 through the first two rounds, and that has allowed her to open up a 169-pin lead at the halfway point of qualifying competition.
Makanalei Carrick of Waianae, Hawaii, is Antony’s closest pursuer at this point. Carrick used games of 206 and 229 to shoot 770 on Day 2, which moved her into second place overall at 1,435.
Ashlyn Henry of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who sat in second place after Round 1, is third with 1,386. Alyssa Bechtol of Erlanger, Kentucky, (1,320) and Kennedi Spears of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, (1,314) round out the U12 girls top five.
Buffalo's Willard enjoys early-morning success, now sits inside U18 boys cut
First-time Junior Gold competitor Jacob Willard of Buffalo, New York, is an early riser. That’s what comes from frequently having to hit the lanes for competition first thing in the morning.
While many of his fellow competitors were bleary eyed, Willard was razor sharp and locked in from the word go as action got underway on the 7 a.m. squad of U18 qualifying at Westgate Bowl Tuesday.
“Back home, we bowl a lot of early squads, so I’m definitely someone who is better in the morning,” Willard said. “Bowling early isn’t a big deal as long as you get enough sleep, eat a good breakfast, and keep the right mindset.”
Willard didn’t mention how many hours of sleep he got Monday night or what he ate for breakfast Tuesday morning, but one thing that was perfectly clear is that his mindset was spot on from the very beginning as he shot games of 238, 172, 233 and 276 to finish the second round with a four-game total of 919.
Adding Tuesday’s set to the 881 he fired during Round 1 gave Willard a two-day total of 1,800, which put him in fourth place and well inside the cut for U18 boys with two rounds of qualifying remaining.
“So far, I’ve bowled a lot better than my expectations,” Willard said. “The first game of the tournament was really nerve-racking, but since then I’ve been locked in the whole time. I’m just going to try to keep doing what’s been working and stay above even or as close to it as I can.”
Urethane remains a popular choice
Ten years ago, seeing a urethane ball on the rack at a tournament like Junior Gold would have been something of an anomaly.
Five years ago, usage of urethane was on the rise, but there were still far more bowlers using reactive resin balls game in and game out during tournament play.
Today, the tide continues to change as more and more bowlers opt for urethane balls when faced with demanding lane conditions like those put out at Junior Gold.
During the first two days of qualifying, it hasn’t been uncommon to walk by a pair of lanes to find the rack displaying a 50-50 split between urethane balls and their reactive resin counterparts.
As a two-handed bowler, Kaden Salts of Tecumseh, Michigan, has found urethane to be a very valuable tool when taking on challenging oil patterns, and it’s a tool he doesn’t see himself or many fellow bowlers putting down anytime soon.
“I know a lot of bowlers who don’t like urethane, but the object of the game is to knock down as many pins as possible,” Salt said. “To do that, you have to use whatever ball gives you the best chance to score, and the control and predictability of urethane does that for a lot of bowlers. I definitely think the resurgence of urethane is going to continue for a long time.”
Jobsite fans emerge as the hot new accessory helping bowlers get the job done
When it comes to finding new and interesting ways to stay cool and comfortable during competition, nobody is more creative than bowlers and their families.
That fact is on full display as spectators walk around the host bowling centers at Junior Gold this year and see the plethora of jobsite fans being held by bowlers or set on tables to help competitors stay cool as they face the heat of competition.
Thomas BaDour hails from Georgetown, Texas, so he knows plenty about heat and humidity. Also, he knows that, sadly, sometimes even the hardest-working air conditioners can’t improve the hot and sticky conditions inside some bowling centers.
As such, BaDour joined the growing number of bowlers who have made jobsite fans part of their competition bowling toolboxes.
“With all the heat in Texas, it’s really easy for my hand to get sweaty and cause problems feeling comfortable in the ball,” BaDour said. “These new fans are so much more powerful and cool me off so much better and quicker than the one I used to carry around. I got this fan a few months ago, and now I don’t like going anywhere to bowl without it.”