Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., knocked off the top two qualifiers to capture the gold medal in boys singles at the 2012 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Youth Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday.
Kent won the gold medal with a 226-197 victory over Japan’s Shusaku Asato, the No. 2 qualifier. Kent took out top qualifier Basil Low of Singapore in the semifinals, 196-188, while Asato topped Ryu Ji-Hoon of Korea, 200-197, in the other semifinal match.
“It’s unbelievable,” Kent said of winning the gold. “To accomplish the goal we had coming out here, to be able to be the guy to grab the gold for the United States … I can’t even describe it. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Over the last two days, Kent made key strikes in the final frame that proved to be the difference. He needed two strikes in his last game of qualifying on Monday to make the final four, and then had to strike in the final frame of both matches to win.
In the semifinals, Kent and Low were tied in the eighth and both struck in the ninth. Low then threw had a 9-count spare to start the 10th.
“Fortunately enough, that gave me an opening to be able to throw the first strike in the 10th to take the match,” Kent said. “The second match was a little tougher.”
In the title match, Kent started slowly before making a big move to the right in the sixth frame, a move he called “an educated guess.”
“I had to do something and that’s what I felt I had to do,” Kent said. “I ended up throwing six in a row to come back and win the gold medal.”
Kent is the third Junior Team USA player to win the gold medal in singles at the World Youth Championships. Shawn Evans won the boys singles gold at the 1998 event in Inchon City, Korea, while Kelly Kulick took the girls title in 2000 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Kim Seon-Jeong of Korea took the girls’ singles title with a 228-169 victory over Malaysia’s Hee Kar Yen, the top qualifier. Seon-Jeong beat Juliana Franco of Colombia, 203-146, in the semifinals while Yen reached the title match with a 225-151 victory over Cristina Rodriguez of Puerto Rico.
The girls’ double also got underway on Tuesday and the U.S. teams each made a bid to reach the final four for the medal round. Junior Team USA members Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., and Amanda Greene of Romney, W.Va., finished fifth, while Jessica Earnest of Vandalia, Ill. and Kelsey Muther of Topeka, Kan., were seventh.
Earnest and Muther were in second place after bowling in the first of two squads. Earnest led all bowlers in the six-game block with a 1,260 pinfall total (210 average) while Muther added 1,159 for a 2,419 team total.
But the second squad of the day would produce the four teams for the finals. McEwan and Greene were fifth in the squad with a 2,445 total, which was led by Malaysia’s Dayang Khairuniza and Jacqueline Sijore with a 2,614 pinfall total. Also advancing to the finals were New Hui Fen and Bernice Lim of Singapore (2,514), Japan’s Misaki Mukotani and Hiraku Takekawa (2,501), and Kim Seon-Jeong and Hwang Yeon-Ju of Korea (2,497).
The first three of four squads in boys’ doubles will compete on Wednesday, with the final boys doubles squad and the doubles medal round for both girls and boys scheduled for Thursday.
The World Youth Championships runs through July 3. Medals will be awarded in four more events – doubles, team, all-events and Masters match play.
For more information on the 2012 World Youth Championships, visit WorldYouth2012.com.