The U15 (back row) and U12 USA Bowling Northeast Region champions advanced to the national title matches.
MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – The Northeast Region will have two teams vying for USA Bowling National Championships presented by Sixlets titles as each team rolled through Friday’s match-play bracket at Astro Lanes.
The Chesapeake Bay Strikers, the Northeast Region champions, will meet USA Bowl (South Central Region) for the 15-and-under team title and DKJ Pro Shop (Northeast Region) will take on the SDLV Strikers (Southwest Region) in the 12-and-under division after the four teams weaved their way through Friday’s match-play bracket.
The finals will be held at Thunderbowl Lanes on Friday, July 19. The U12 title is set for 5 p.m. (Eastern) and the U15 final is at 8 p.m., with the best-three-of-five Baker matches to be taped for national broadcast.
CBS Sports Network will televise the U12 title match on Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. (Eastern) and the U15 final will air Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. (Eastern).
The Chesapeake Bay Strikers earned the No. 10 seed for the 16-team bracket, but Friday more often looked like the team that rolled the perfect game during qualifying.
“This is our second year of trying to make it here,” said coach Leo Menendez, whose team fell short of making the national event last year. “We all know each other, we bowl league together, we bowl tournaments together, and just to make it to this point is amazing. I tell them this is their time – believe in each other, believe in yourself, throw great shots. We can do it.”
The team is comprised of John Banfield, James Bennett, Nicholas Menendez, Nate Trentler and Laney Wells.
On the other side of the U15 bracket, USA Bowl was knocked into the lower bracket of the double-elimination tournament and had to work its way back to the semifinal. In the match to determine which team would make the TV show, USA Bowl had to defeat the team that sent them to the lower bracket, the Ohio Valley champion Indiana All Stars.
And USA Bowl would have to win twice.
Joshua Modelo, who coaches the team with Jaden Takayesu, said they told the team “that this is all gravy from here. At the end of the day, they had made it this far and we had one more chance to make the TV finals.”
Takayesu added: “It wasn’t very hard to get them riled up again to go against the same team, because they wanted redemption.”
USA Bowl team members are Jacob Ballenger, Ellie Drescher, Ethan Gomez, Bryant Griffith and Matthew Reed. Ballenger and Griffith were on the U12 runner-up team at the inaugural USA Bowling National Championships.
In the U12 bracket, DKJ Pro Shop team members William Cunningham, Donaven Kline, Ronin Rivera and Kai Strothers rolled through the bracket, sweeping the best-two-of-three Baker matches semifinal.
“This is my third year coaching the U12 team, and we finished third the last two years, so we finally made it over the last hump,” said DKJ Pro Shop coach Joe SanFilippo. “The kids bowled absolutely tremendous over the last six games – they averaged about 248. They threw a lot of strikes and made our jobs easy.”
The SDLV Strikers faced a little tougher path on their road to the title match. They rolled to the semifinal match before falling to Heartland Region champion Thumbs Optional 2.0, which had come back through the double-elimination bracket. But SDLV Strikers regrouped to win the rematch and advance.
“There were times that we didn’t look like we were going to get there,” SDLV Strikers coach Gary Oatis said. “But then they just turned it around. They rose to the occasion. I’m proud of them and the parents for giving us such support.”
The SDLV Strikers are comprised of 2018 Junior Gold champion Katelyn Abigania, Sebastian Huffman, Avery Domaguin and Elias O’Hollaren. Huffman who was on the U12 runner-up team at last year’s USA Bowling Championships.
The USA Bowling National Championships brought together the champions from 16 regional tournaments in the U12 and U15 divisions. The 32 teams bowled 15 Baker matches in qualifying to determine Friday’s double-elimination match-play bracket. Teams bowled the best-two-of-three Baker matches until the teams for the national title matches were decided.
BowlTV.com provided livestream coverage qualifying and the match-play bracket.
Visit BOWL.com/USABowling for more information on the national championships.