DETROIT – The final eight bowlers for match play in the 12-and-under boys and girls divisions at the 2019 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite were decided at Super Bowl on Thursday.
In the girls division, 2018 champion Katelyn Abigania of San Diego earned the top seed, rolling 747 during the four-game block for a 3,703 pinfall total to edge her USA Bowling National Championships teammate, Avery Domaguin (3,662), also of San Diego.
The San Diego duo was followed by Kayla Starr of Crofton, Maryland, Samantha Kanehailua of Pearl City, Hawaii, Abigail Starkey of Schaumburg, Illinois, Kaitlyn Stull of Raleigh, North Carolina, Gianna Brandolino of Joliet, Illinois and Miya Greene of Lemon Grove, California.
In the boys division, Nicolas Trentler of Phoenix, Maryland, led the way followed by Keegan Alexander of Victor, New York, who made the televised finals in 2018, and they were followed by Elias O'Hollaren of San Diego and Sebastian Huffman of Las Vegas, who are teammates of Abigania and Domaguin on the SDLV USA Bowling team that will bowl for a national title on Friday.
Braden McDonough of Coppell, Texas, Duke Knudsen of Redmond, Washington, Alex Davis of Lewisburg, Tennessee, and Landin Jordan of Sycamore, Illinois, rounded out the boys match-play qualifiers. Jordan had to get past Christopher Rhea of Newport News, Virginia, in a one-game rolloff for the final spot.
Match play for the U12 boys and U12 girls will start at 8 a.m. Friday at Thunderbowl Lanes.
Each match in the double-elimination bracket consists of two games, with the winner determined by total pinfall. The two finalists in the match-play bracket will bowl to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the three-person stepladder final, and the winner of the Elimination Bracket will be the No. 3 seed for the televised finals.
BowlTV.com will have live coverage of the U12 match-play rounds.
USA Bowling title matches on Friday
The finals of the USA Bowling National Championships are Friday at Thunderbowl Lanes. The U12 title match is at 5 p.m. (Eastern) and the U15 final is at 8 p.m. (Eastern), with the best-three-of-five Baker matches to be taped for national broadcast.
CBS Sports Network will air the U12 title match on Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. (Eastern) and the U15 final on Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. (Eastern).
Last week, the 32 USA Bowling National Championships teams – 16 in the U12 division, 16 in U15 – rolled 15 Baker matches to set the double-elimination match-play bracket. The teams then bowled best-two-of-three Baker matches to determine the final teams for the national title matches.
Local U15 bowler in contention
After opening with an 857 block and then posting an 870 in the third round of qualifying, Carter Milasinovich of Macomb, Michigan, was second in the U15 boys division. He fell three pins short of a third 800 set on Thursday, but will be in good position heading into the Friday morning’s Advancers Round.
“Originally, my goal was to make the first cut, until I shot 857 Day 1,” said Carter, who made the first cut last year by five pins. “The it was to make match play.”
He said he missed just one spare in his 870 block, but on Thursday he “couldn’t execute in the eighth, ninth and 10th frames. One through seven was good.”
The top 103 U15 boys will bowl five games at Century Bowl starting at 7:30 a.m. to determine the 56 bowlers who will advance to the afternoon’s Final Advancers Round.
Move up doesn’t slow former champ
Karina Capron of Fremont, Nebraska, has enjoyed incredible success at the Junior Gold Championships over the last two years, and she’s now putting that experience, and the confidence of back-to-back U12 title matches, to the test in her U15 debut in 2019.
The U12 champion in 2017 and runner-up in 2018, Karina’s momentum hasn’t slowed in her move to the U15 division. She’ll be one of 52 girls back on the lanes Friday at Century Bowl for the U15 Advancers Round after finishing qualifying in ninth place.
Her preparation at her family’s newly acquired bowling center, along with previous experience, have helped her succeed this week in the Detroit area.
“It felt pretty good, and even though there were some struggles, I was able to pick it back up,” Karina said. “I’m really proud of myself for where I am right now, especially since it’s my first year in U15. If I end up not making the cut (to top 24 for Finals Advancers Round), I’ll go home and practice more, so I can be ready for next year.”
A little homefield advantage
Imari Blond, who is competing in the U17 girls division, has a little bit of a homefield advantage at the Junior Gold Championships, as the Flint, Michigan, native regularly competes in the Detroit-area centers that are being used in the competition.
“This is exciting, mostly because I know most of the people here and know the bowling alley conditions,” said.
She had an 848 four-game block at Sterling Lanes on Wednesday, jumping from 33rd to eighth, and posted a 751 set on Thursday at Thunderbowl Lanes to end qualifying in 10th.
“Today, I kind of struggled in the beginning,” Imari said. “It wasn’t as much spares but splits, and getting the ball to hook a little more. I figured it out a little at the end and that helped me out.”
The top 64 move to the Advancers Round at Thunderbowl Lanes on Friday morning. They will bowl five games on Friday morning, cut the field to 32 for the Final Advances Round in the afternoon.
At age 5, Emmett Larson of Three Rivers, Michigan, is the youngest competitor at the 2019 Junior Gold Championships. He competed in the Southwest Michigan Junior Gold league, averaging 99 on the Sport shot, and uses 13- and 14-pound bowling balls.
His dad, Michael, said because Emmett qualified for the event that would take place just a few hours away from home, why not bowl in it?
Emmett averaged 113 through four qualifying rounds, with a high game of 169 in the second round.