INDIANAPOLIS - Jacob Kent of Newark, N.Y., and Brittni Hamilton of Webster, N.Y., lead the 2010 United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick heading into Friday's final round.
Kent, who has led since the opening round Monday, paced the boys with a 30-game total of 6,412, an average of 213.7, while Hamilton took the top spot on the girls side with 6,240, an average of 208, at Woodland Bowl.
The week started with 982 boys and 521 girls competing for $125,000 in scholarships. The top 79 girls and 150 boys competed in Thursday's semifinals and just 16 boys and 16 girls remain headed into Friday's match-play finals, which will be broadcast live on BOWL.com beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern.
"This has been incredible," said Kent, the son of former professional bowler Doug Kent. "There were certain times today I struggled hoping to shoot 180 games at the most. When the lanes started to open up and I got some room, I got more comfortable. I lost a few pins early, but it was easy to get them back. It's been pretty cool to see my name at the top of the board the whole week."
Although Kent leads, the margin got closer the last game as Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., (no relation to Jacob Kent) fired 268 to close the semifinals with 6,377, just 35 pins off the lead. Chris Via of Springfield, Ohio, is third at 6,255, Kyle King of Glendale, Ariz., is fourth with 6,253 and Aaron Groendyk of Grandville, Mich., rounds out the top five with 6,242.
"It's a whole different tournament tomorrow," Jacob Kent said. "Up until this point, you're bowling with friends. When you get to match play, it's cut throat. You don't give anything and you take as much as you can. It will be very interesting to see who rises to the top tomorrow."
For the girls, Hamilton holds a slim lead on Addileen Pointer of Highland, Mich. Pointer sits just 16 pins back, but there's a bigger gap between second and third. Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., is third, 110 pins behind second. Amanda Greene of Romney, W.Va., is fourth at 6,105, and Kristie Petravich of West Palm Beach, Fla., is fifth at 6,069.
"I threw the ball really well this morning and this afternoon the lanes were a lot tougher," Hamilton said. "I just wanted to keep myself in good position for tomorrow and get as many pins as I could. My goal coming into today was to set myself up for the grand finale."
Competing in her final Junior Gold, Hamilton said the goal is clear at this point in the tournament.
"When I started the tournament, my goal was to make one cut at a time, and now I've done that," Hamilton said. "This is my last Junior Gold, and now the main goal is for me to go out there and win it."
At the end of 46 total games this week, spots will be awarded on Junior Team USA 2011. The top four male and top four female finishers after match-play competition will automatically qualify for Junior Team USA 2011, and the National Selection Committee will award four at-large spots - two male, two female - from the pool of athletes that make match-play finals.
Indianapolis is also hosting two other major youth bowling tournaments this month. The USBC Youth Open Championships at Expo Bowl continues through July 20 and picks up again July 22-24. The Youth Open will award $100,000 in scholarships to participants.
In addition, the North Pointe $100,000 High School Singles Tournament will be held at Hindel Bowl from July 17-19 and also will have $100,000 in scholarships up for grabs.