Junior Team USA Girls Win Doubles at 2019 World Bowling Junior Championships

by Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications 0


PARIS - Junior Team USA's Kamerin Peters and Mabel Cummins may have been the center of attention Saturday at Paris' Institut du Judo, where their stage was a two-lane installation surrounded by bright TV lights and hundreds of bowling fans, but they seemed unfazed by their surroundings as they performed for the energetic audience.

The two were as calm as if the venue that didn't exist 24 hours before was their familiar home bowling center, and they worked together to earn the doubles gold medal at the 2019 World Bowling Junior Championships with a 478-452 victory over Korea's Hong Soree and Jeong Youngseon.

"This feels absolutely amazing," said Peters, who made her Junior Team USA debut this week at the inaugural World Bowling Junior Championships. "We were able to block everything out and stay focused. We concentrated on making the best shots we could, and we communicated the whole time, which really helped us stay in the moment."

Peters left a 10 pin on her first shot but quickly shook off any nerves, rattling off six consecutive strikes on the way to a 277 effort in the one-game match. Cummins added a 201 game to secure the gold medal.

The Junior Team USA girls led by as many as 22 pins, but a 4-6-7 split from Cummins in the eighth frame opened the door for the Koreans. Peters and Cummins led by three pins heading into the final frame, and strikes from each ended Korea's hopes.

"It was really exciting out there, and even with the potential for so many distractions, we were able to block it out and stay focused," said Cummins, also a Masters bronze medalist this week. "Kam and I worked so well together, and it's an honor to say I have won a gold medal with her."

The Current Frame Scoring system was used this week at the World Junior Championships.

In the new system, a strike counts for 30 pins, a spare counts for 10, plus the first-ball count, and an open frame counts for actual pins knocked down. The 10th frame counts the same as all other frames (there's no fill ball), and even with only 10 first balls each game, the maximum score still is 300.

Current Frame Scoring has been featured in recent World Bowling Tour events, the Asian Bowling Federation Tour Finals and the Asian Games.

Saturday's doubles finals didn't end as well for the Junior Team USA boys, who fell to Korea in a high-scoring match, 534-502.

Korea's Park Donghyuk and Ji Geun combined for 15 strikes and posted matching 267 games, while Junior Team USA's Solomon Salama and Anthony Neuer tossed 14 strikes of their own on the way to games of 255 and 247, respectively.

The Koreans were in control the whole match, and a few hiccups along the way were the difference for Salama and Neuer. Neuer missed a 6 pin the second frame and left a 7-10 split in the seventh, while Salama's four-strike start was halted by a 2-4-7-8 combination he was unable to convert.

"If you would've told me before the final that we could've had 502, I would've taken it, for sure, and I would've liked our chances," Neuer said. "They bowled phenomenally, and there wasn't much more we could do. I'm happy with how we performed, even though we didn't win."

Salama and Neuer, both 16-year-old left-handers, are two-time winners at the Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite, so they, too, were not affected by the grandeur of the venue or the moment.

There were nerves before the action got going Saturday in the custom setup, but they were able to draw on past experience and find comfort in their camaraderie.

"It meant a lot to be able to find success on the world stage and show how competitive the bowlers from the United States can be," Salama said. "We are here to represent the country and Team USA, support youth bowling worldwide and win medals, so in that regard, it was a rewarding week."

In all, 105 bowlers (58 boys and 47 girls) representing 35 countries competed in the 2019 World Junior Championships this week, and they bowled for medals in four disciplines - singles, doubles, mixed team and Masters. Medals also were awarded for all-events.

All qualifying rounds and semifinals, plus the singles finals, were held at Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin in nearby Saint-Maximin, France, and livestreamed by World Bowling.

The doubles, Masters and team championship matches all were contested on the special two-lane installation inside the Institut du Judo in the center of Paris, allowing for a more elaborate TV setting and exposure via broadcast to countries and channels around the world.

Korea's dominance continued in the Masters finals, where Hong and Ji emerged as the gold medalists. Hong defeated her teammate, Jeong, 2-1 (223-264, 215-196, 262-225), and Ji downed Finland's Pyry Puharinen, 2-0 (244-231, 267-236). Jeong and Puharinen each earned silver medals.

Ji's command of the left side and mastery of the week's 41-foot World Bowling Montreal oil pattern resulted in gold medals in singles, doubles, all-events and Masters, and he finished the week by helping Korea top Mexico, 2-0 (220-167, 222-197), in the best-of-three Baker team final.

The four-player mixed team event included the two boys and two girls competing for each country.

Korea and Finland topped the medal table this week in France with 10 medals each and were followed by the United States and Mexico with three apiece. Germany, Philippines and Singapore each earned two medals, and England and Lithuania took home one apiece.

Junior Team USA's three medals were gold in girls doubles, silver in boys doubles and bronze in girls Masters. Neuer just missed an all-events medal, finishing fourth overall.

Junior Team USA head coach Bryan O'Keefe had nothing but praise for all four team members.

"We didn't know what to expect from the lane pattern and the brand new install, but once we got going, the lanes seemed a little cleaner and played like they did toward the end of the week, which was much more comfortable for us," O'Keefe said. "Kamerin bowled an incredible game, and both girls threw about the best shots you ever could ask for in the 10th frame when it mattered most. They were composed and didn't let the elements get to them, and I couldn't be any more proud."

Peters and Cummins, both 16-year-old right-handers, have bowled on TV before. Cummins is a past Junior Gold Championships winner, and Peters made the televised finals of the team-based USA Bowling National Championships.

A two-time Junior Team USA member, Cummins picked up her first world championship last summer. She helped Junior Team USA to the team gold medal at the 2018 World Bowling Youth Championships in the Detroit area.

"We did have a couple of open frames on the boys side, but we did plenty of striking as well, against a team that was dominant all week and carried that momentum into the final," O'Keefe said. "We gave it our best and gave them a good match, and that's all I could ask for. We put up 500 on TV, and that's an amazing score. It just wasn't enough today. Ultimately, they represented us well and bowled for a gold medal. It was a successful week, and I'm proud of the whole group."

For more information on Junior Team USA, visit BOWL.com/JuniorTeamUSA.

For more information about the World Bowling Junior Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.

At Institut du Judo

Saturday's results

*All semifinals were held at Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin in Saint-Maximin, France, earlier in the week.


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Mabel Cummins/Kamerin Peters, United States, def. Hong Soree/Jeong Youngseon, Korea, 478-452.


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Ji Geun/Park Donghyuk, Korea, def. Anthony Neuer/Solomon Salama, United States, 534-502.


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Hong Soree, Korea, def. Jeong Youngseon, Korea, 2-1 (223-264, 215-196, 262-225).


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Ji Geun, Korea, def. Pyry Puharinen, Finland, 2-0 (244-231, 267-236).


(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)

Korea def. Mexico, 2-0 (220-167, 222-197).

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