INDIANAPOLIS – The USA Bowling National Championships determined its first champions on Saturday at Western Bowl in the youth team event featuring 12-and-under and 15-and-under divisions.
Saturday’s best three-of-five Baker matches in both divisions, which were taped for broadcast and will be televised on CBS Sports Network in August, would go four games.
In the U12 division, Coastal South regional winners Team Georgia faced the Indiana U12 All-Stars, the Lower Great Lakes regional winner. Team Georgia would have just one open frame, and closed with four consecutive strikes, to take Game 1, 199-166.
But the Indiana U12 All-Stars would post progressively higher scores in each following game, taking Game 2 by a 181-151 count, before pulling out a slim 187-180 victory to take a 2-1 lead.
With the opportunity to wrap up the title, the Indiana U12 All-Stars started a string of six consecutive strikes in the sixth frame and rolled to a 234-162 victory to claim the first USA Bowling National Championships title.
“In 2015, after the bowling season, I decided to put the best middle-school bowlers in fifth grade together for this USA Bowling team,” coach Chris Toyias said. “We won our regional in October, and we’ve been practicing and working toward this goal right here since October.”
Kyle Toyias started the string of strikes and teammates Hayden Smith, Reece Dunbar and Shayla Gwynn followed his lead.
“Throwing a good shot, that makes them want to throw an even better shot,” Kyle Toyia said. “This is pretty awesome, I’m not gonna lie.”
The U15 title match saw another team from Georgia, the Atlanta-based Strikers representing the South Region, facing Upper Great Lakes champion the Clams from Minnesota.
The Strikers would have just one open frame in the first two games, posting victories of 217-149 and 239-205 to take a 2-0 lead. The Clams then posted a clean game themselves for a 234-180 victory.
In Game 4, Faith Hardy watched a 4 pin tumble late in the fourth frame that would help give her team a lead that Hardy and teammates Jhalen Embery, Tyrell Ingalls and Dawson Stewart would not relinquish.
“We knew (the Clams) were a good team and we just wanted to stay clean and execute our fundamentals,” coach Bill Johnson said about how his team reacted after losing Game 3. “They didn’t panic. I doubt even if they had lost two that they would have panicked. They would just stay with their game. But being up 2-0, you’re not really stressing when you are executing your shots.”
And the team members were there to pick up one another. Each team member had strings of strikes and different points in the match.
“It was a team effort, all of us did well,” Stewart said. “I was really nervous, I was just trying not to choke. Being a national title, everybody watching, the cameras all around us … I just tried to not think about it too much.”
Starting last fall, USA Bowling conducted 16 regional events across the country to determine the 32 teams – 16 in U12, 16 in U15 – that would represent their regions at the national tournament.
This week, after 15 games of qualifying, all teams in each division went through a double-elimination match-play bracket to determine the teams that would meet for the inaugural national titles. The Baker format is used for all qualifying, with best two-of-three matches determining which teams advanced in the bracket.
International Bowling Campus Youth Development introduced the USA Bowling National Championships with four regional events in 2013. It grew from the USA Bowling program, a team-based youth program to introduce youngsters to the sport. It follows the same structure as other youth sports by placing children on a team, providing a coach and holding regular practices along with weekly competitions.
USA Bowling is a product of the Youth Education Services (YES) Fund, a joint initiative of the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America and United States Bowling Congress supported by top bowling brands including Bowling.com, Brunswick, Columbia 300, Ebonite, Hammer, QubicaAMF, Roto Grip, Storm and Track.
Go to BOWL.com/USABowling for more information about the USA Bowling program and the USA Bowling National Championships.
USA BOWLING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
SATURDAY’S FINALS RESULTS
(At Western Bowl)
Lower Great Lakes regional champion Indiana U12 All-Stars (Reece Dunbar, Shayla Gwynn, Hayden Smith , Kyle Toyias) def. Coastal South regional champion Team Georgia (Jacob Ballenger, Joshua Collins, Bryant Smith, Braden Sorrentino), 3-1
South regional champion Strikers, Georgia (Jhalen Embery, Faith Hardy, Tyrell Ingalls, Dawson Stewart) def. Upper Great Lakes regional champion Clams, Minnesota (Riley Anfinson, Korey Balbach, Nolan Bianchi, Alex Sieberg), 3-1.