U17 champions crowned at 2019 Junior Gold Championships

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Cameron Hurwitz of Rochester, New York, captured the U17 boys title and Caroline Thesier of Mooresville, North Carolina, threw 17 strikes over two matches to capture the U17 girls title at the 2019 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International.

CBS Sports Network aired the stepladder finals of the U17 division on Tuesday. The 2019 event marked the debut of the U17 division.

“It’s incredible,” Cameron said about winning the title. “I was extremely excited to do it, very nervous though. Now that it’s over, I don’t even have words for it. I’m shell-shocked.”

Cameron was the runner-up in the U12 division at the 2015 Junior Gold Championships, where he competed while wearing an antiviral mask. He had been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder (Aplastic Anemia) and was undergoing blood transfusions that weakened his immune system. A bone marrow transplant in late 2015 eventually helped him overcome the illness.

At this year’s Junior Gold Championships, Hurwitz described qualifying as “a steady grind” but once match play hit, he “started bowling very well and things started going my way.”

In the match to determine the top seed for the TV show, Cameron slipped past Sidney Schroschk of Berlin, Germany, 400-397, in the two-game total-pins match. That left Sidney, who finished fifth in his Junior Gold Championships debut in 2018, to face Nathan Smith of Noblesville, Indiana, in the opening match of the stepladder finals.

In a matchup of two-handed lefties, Nathan started with three strikes before a 7-10 split in the fifth frame. They were separated by only a three pins at that point, but Sidney then posted seven consecutive strikes to run away with a 259-210 victory and earn a rematch against Cameron.

In the title match, Cameron stuck on five of his first six shots but Sidney had four strikes to keep it close. In the eighth fame, Sidney left the 6-8-10 and could not convert the spare. Hurwitz then went stayed clean to take the title with a 227-211 victory.

“I knew I was going to have to stack a lot of strikes,” Hurwitz said. “But I also knew the carry looked a little bit tough, so I just tried to get as many revs as I could and string as many as I was possibly able to.”

Caroline, a 2019 Junior Team USA member, set the tone for strikes in the U17 girls stepladder.

In the opening match, both Carline and her opponent, Amanda Naujokas of Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, struggled early. Each had a pair of open frames, including Amanda’s unusual 7-8-10 split in the fourth, before both found a groove.

Amanda, the 2015 U12 girls champion, had a string of four consecutive strikes starting in the sixth frame, and held a 23-pin lead entering the final frame. But she left the 6-10 on her first shot in the 10th and missed the spare to open the door for Caroline.

Working on a string of three strikes, Caroline struck on her first two shots on her way to a 219-197 victory.

“I was worried about it,” Caroline said about trailing late in the match. “But I knew that if I went out there and played like I know how to play, and just gave it my all, it would be OK no matter what happened.”

Caroline’s run of strikes continued in the title match against top-seed Morgan Gitlitz of Freehold, New Jersey. While Morgan struck six times in the first nine frames, Caroline strung together seven consecutive strikes starting in the fifth frame and had nine strikes overall to take the title, 265-225.

“I found a part of the lane that I was really comfortable in, and I made sure that I just trusted myself,” Caroline said. “It really means everything. I’ve had, the last couple of months, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of self-doubts. So, to come in here and perform like that, it helped showed me who I can be on the lanes.”

Four spots on the 2020 Junior Team USA U17 Development team were determined based on finishes at the Junior Gold Championships and provided the players met the age-eligibility requirements. Making the team were Amanda Naujokas and Cameron Hurwitz, along with Jennifer Loredo of Fresno, California, and Angelo Biondo of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

The U17 divisions were the largest divisions of the tournament with 868 boys and 446 girls.

In the U17 division, competitors bowled 16 qualifying games over four days – four games at a different center each day – before the field was cut. Bowlers then bowled an additional five games before a second cut was made to the Final Advancers Round. Those remaining bowled an additional five games to determine the 16 bowlers for match play.

All matches in the double-elimination match-play bracket were two games, with total pins determining the winner.

BowlTV.com provided live coverage of the Junior Gold Championships from selected centers, including coverage of the U17 advancers rounds and match play.

CBS Sports Network is airing the stepladder finals of all divisions of the 2019 Junior Gold Championships. The U20 finals, the last of the four shows, will air Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The USA Bowling National Championships presented by Sixlets title matches also will air on CBS Sports Network. The U12 final will air Aug. 20 and the U15 final will be Aug. 27, with both shows starting at 8 p.m. (Eastern).

Visit BOWL.com/JuniorGold for more information about the Junior Gold Championships and the Junior Gold program.