INDIANAPOLIS - For the first time in the 15-year history of the event, the North Pointe Junior Gold Championships are broken into divisions by age. But that didn't stop nine brave bowlers in the younger division from challenging their older counterparts.
Six boys and three girls eligible for the 15-and-under division opted to compete in the 20-and-under division at Junior Gold, which began with the opening round of qualifying Monday.
Among those who decided to take on the challenge is 2012 Junior Team USA member Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn. The 14-year-old is no stranger to facing the older competition as he holds the record for the youngest bowler to cash in a Professional Bowlers Association event.
At the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials, Doyle finished 15th and was selected for Junior Team USA by the National Selection Committee to join the team.
It is the desire to make the team in 2013 that led to Doyle opting to compete in the older age division at this year's Junior Gold. The top two boys and top two girls after 25 games of qualifying will earn automatic spots on Junior Team USA.
"I like a challenge and the spots on Junior Team USA were the deciding factors for me," said Doyle, who finished 14th at Junior Gold two years ago as a 12-year-old and started this year's event with a five-game total of 980. "I made Junior Team USA as a selection and now I want to make it automatically to prove I belong and start a string of years on the team."
The other boys who opted to compete in the U20 division include 15-year-olds Aaron Ruiz of Nashville, Christopher Kokes of Mooers, N.Y., Brandon Knowles of Westminster, Colo., Anthony Simonsen of Mesquite, Texas, and Connor Jackley of Portland, Ore.
On the girls side, Chelsea Riley of Weston, Fla., and Amanda Nardiello of Brick, N.J., who are both 15, and 14-year-old Caitlyn Johnson of Rockwell, N.C., are taking on their older counterparts this week.
FIRST CUT POSITIONS ANNOUNCED: After 15 games over three days at three bowling centers, the field in each division will be cut for the first time Wednesday.
In the U20 division, 150 boys will advance to Thursday's fourth round, while 81 girls will move forward. In the U15 division, the top 32 boys and 24 girls will advance.
All bowlers will complete 15 games of qualifying before the first cut is made. Those who advance will bowl five additional games Thursday before the cut is made to the top 64 in the U20 divisions and top 24 in the U15 divisions.
After Thursday, the top 16 in each division move to the double-elimination match-play bracket.
LANE CONDITIONS: The lane conditions for this year's Junior Gold are USBC Sport Bowling compliant and come from the World Tenpin Bowling Association bank of patterns, which Junior Team USA members face in international competition.
At Woodland Bowl, the U20 division is taking on the 40-foot Athens pattern, while the U15 division is bowling on the 41-foot Montreal pattern. At Expo Bowl, the U20s are bowling on the 45-foot Mexico City pattern, while the U15s take on the 44-foot London pattern.
The shortest patterns for both divisions is at Western Bowl, where the U20 division is battling the 33-foot Sydney pattern, while the U15 division takes on the 36-foot Los Angeles pattern.
LIVE STREAMING: Bowling fans will be able to watch the competition live from Junior Gold on BOWL.com's BowlTV starting Thursday at 8 a.m. Eastern. Coverage will continue until the champions are crowned Friday afternoon.