Spoiler Alert: The following story contains information about the finals of the 2018 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International. The stepladder finals of the U12, U15 and U20 divisions for both boys and girls will air on CBS Sports Network in the coming weeks.
ARLINGTON, Texas – The six champions of the 2018 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International were determined Saturday at the International Training and Research Center as the weeklong tournament for the top youth bowlers wrapped up.
Stepladder finals in each division determined the boys and girls champions in the 12-and-under, 15-and-under and 20-and-under divisions. All finals were taped for broadcast on CBS Sports Network and will be televised starting next week.
The U12 finals will kick off the broadcasts on Tuesday, July 24. The U15 finals will air July 31, and the U20 finals will air Aug. 7. All TV shows will start at 8 p.m. Eastern.
The 2018 Junior Gold Championships had a record field of more than 3,800 participants competing for part of the record scholarship fund of more than $350,000 and spots on Junior Team USA.
Eight centers in the Dallas area hosted qualifying and match-play rounds – AMF DeSoto, AMF Garland, AMF Richardson, AMF Spare Time, Brunswick Westcreek and Cityview Lanes, Forum Bowling Lanes and USA Bowl.
This year, three-person stepladder finals were introduced at the Junior Gold Championships. In previous years, the finalists in each match would bowl two-game total-pins matches.
Anthony Neuer of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, the No. 1 seed, opened the title match of the U20 boys stepladder final with nine consecutive strikes before leaving a 4 pin on the way to a 267-219 victory over Jacob Mullen of Bellingham, Washington.
Neuer, the inaugural U12 boys winner in 2014, avenged a runner-up finish in last year’s U15 final and became the first boy to win titles in two different age divisions.
Mullen advanced to the title match after providing a mark in the 10th frame to defeat No. 2 seed Bryce Oliver of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 244-214.
In the U20 girls stepladder, No. 1 seed Julia Huren of Westland, Michigan, struck on her first shot in the 10th frame to clinch the title over Kaitlyn Eder of Lithia, Florida, 237-225.
Eder, the No. 2 seed, tossed five consecutive strikes starting in frame six, which forced Huren to mark in the final frame to win. Huren struck on her first shot in the 10th to become a champion in her final Junior Gold Championships appearance.
The U20 girls opening match also came down to the 10th frame, where Eder defeated Abby Ragsdale of Aurora, Illinois, 209-206. Needing a double and three pins to advance to the title match, Ragsdale struck on the first shot before leaving an 8 pin on her second offering to finish third.
The U20 division this year featured 1,495 boys and 855 girls.
Silas Lira of Tampa, Florida, rallied in the semifinal of the U15 boys stepladder, recording five consecutive strikes starting in the seventh frame to best Michael Harmon Jr. of Rockledge, Florida, 219-174.
Lira, the No. 2 seed, moved on to face Brandon Bonta of Wichita, Kansas, in a tightly contested championship match, which came down to the final frame.
Bonta finished the match with 181, forcing Lira to strike on his first shot to secure the victory. After failing to hit the head pin in his first four deliveries on the right lane, Lira made the right adjustment and got the hit, claiming the victory with 197.
Top-seeded Annalise OBryant of Ball Ground, Georgia, relied on her spare shooting and posted a clean game on the way to the U15 girls title, defeating Caitlyn Chapman of Waxahachie, Texas, by the score of 201-197.
Chapman, the No. 2 seed, advanced to the finals by defeating Melanie Hilbert of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, in the semifinals, 218-205.
The U15 division included 672 boys and 382 girls.
In the U12 girls stepladder, Katelyn Abigania of San Diego, the No. 2 seed, took a 153-135 victory over third-seed Saphyre Nofuente of Rocklin, California, in the opening match of the day. Abigania was able to produce two doubles in her first seven frames, while Nofuente had four open frames.
Facing defending champion Karina Capron of Fremont, Nebraska, in the U12 title match, Abigania struck in four of the first six frames on her way to a 200-159 victory.
In the boys stepladder opening match, third-seeded Joseph Dominguez of Manalapan, New Jersey, struck in four of his first five frames on the way to a 199-150 victory over Keegan Alexander of Victor, New York.
Dominguez produced two strikes and four spares through the first six frames of the title match against top-seed Nihal Hari Mareedu of Union City, California, to take a 21-pin lead.
Dominguez then missed back-to-back spare attempts, but Mareedu could not take advantage, allowing Dominguez to claim the title by a score of 170-155.
The U12 division had 284 boys and 141 girls.
The city of Dallas and the Dallas Sports Commission were hosts for the 2018 Junior Gold Championships.
Competitors in all divisions bowled 16 qualifying games over four days (four games each day) before the field was cut. Bowlers in the U20 and U15 divisions bowled an additional five games before a second cut was made, and those remaining bowled an additional five games to determine the 16 bowlers for match play.
In the U12 division competitors bowled an additional four games after the initial cut, and the field then was trimmed to the top eight boys and top eight girls for match play.
Match play for each division was a double-elimination bracket. All advancers and match-play rounds leading up to the televised finals were broadcast live on BowlTV.
Visit BOWL.com/JuniorGold for more information on the event and the Junior Gold program.
Junior Team USA spots determined
Six boys and six girls automatically earned spots on Junior Team USA for 2019 through their performances at Junior Gold this week.
Qualifying for the girls team were: Julia Huren, Westland, Michigan; Kaitlyn Eder, Lithia, Florida; Kamerin Peters, Toms River, New Jersey; Olivia Farwell, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; Addison Herzberg, Wichita, Kansas; and Adel Wahner, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Qualifying for the boys team were: Anthony Neuer, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; Jacob Mullen, Bellingham, Washington; Ryan Burton, Los Altos, California; Chad Stephen, Flint, Michigan; Justin O’Shaughnessy, Canton, Michigan; and Cortez Schenck, Phoenix.
Visit BOWL.com for more information on the Junior Gold Championships or Junior Team USA.