U20 titles decided at 2019 Junior Gold Championships

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Top-seed Patricia Rosales of Orlando, Florida, captured the U20 girls title and Alec Keplinger of Coldwater, Michigan, won two matches to take home the U20 boys title at the 2019 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International.

CBS Sports Network aired the stepladder finals of the U20 division from Thunderbowl Lanes on Tuesday.

Keplinger is the son of Sandra Jo Shiery, a former Team USA member who won 10 titles on the pro women’s tour, and he said his parents have had a big influence on his bowling career.

“She used to bowl on the pro tour and was a huge role model for me; both my parents were,” said Keplinger, who will bowl at Wichita State in the fall. “My whole family is full of bowlers. Just having her there – she’s more mentally tough than pretty much anyone I know.”

Keplinger, the No. 3 seed, faced Tom Hankey Jr. of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the opening match.

Hankey Jr., who won the Intercollegiate Singles and Team Championships titles in April in his freshman season at Webber International, struck on his first five shots. Keplinger, meanwhile, opened in the fourth frame after leaving the 2-8 and failing to convert the spare, allowing Hankey Jr. to quickly build a 42-pin advantage.

“I know he’s a great bowler and knew it would be a tough match,” Keplinger said. “There was a lot of cheering going on. I try not to look when (my opponent) throws the ball. I try to pay attention to something else, find something to keep my mind off it.”

But Hankey Jr. left the 3-4-6-10 in the seventh and the 4-6-10 in the ninth and could not convert either spare, while Keplinger stayed clean to take a 234-209 victory.

In the title match, two-hander Daniel Chin of Daly City, California, missed a single-pin spare in the fourth frame and Keplinger got just enough of the single pins he left in the fourth and fifth frames to take a 22-pin lead.

“I caught my leg on the one and told myself not to do it on the next one,” Keplinger said about the back-to-back 10-pin conversions. “And then I overcorrected. I just turned around and smiled. That’s all you can really do.”

Keplinger couldn’t convert a 4-9 leave in the seventh but Chin followed with an open frame in the eighth after leaving the 3-10. Keplinger then strung together three consecutive strikes, starting in the eighth frame, on his way to a 215-182 victory and the title.

In the girls opening match, Taylor Davis of Burton, Michigan, struck on five of her first seven shots against Cameron Strombeck of Durham, North Carolina, to build a 32-pin lead. But Davis left the 2-8-10 in the eighth frame to open the door.

Strombeck, looking at a chance to pull even, left the 4-9 split in the ninth fame and couldn’t covert, and Davis stayed clean to lock down a 200-169 victory.

In the title match, Davis left the 1-2-4-6-10 in the second frame and couldn’t make the spare, then spent the remainder of the match trying to catch Rosales.

While Rosales stayed clean, she couldn’t string together any strikes, and a double by Davis allowed her to pull within four pins.

In the eighth frame, Davis left the 2-10 split and couldn’t convert. But she had a spare and struck out in the final frame to force Rosales, who only had two strikes to that point, to mark in the 10th.

Rosales, who had third-place finishes in 2014 (U12) and 2016 (U15), and a seventh-place finish in U15 in 2017, was ready for the moment.

“I just told myself to make a big shot,” Rosales said. “I’m only 17, so I have more years to go, so just try my best.”

Rosales then struck on her first two shots in the final frame to wrap up the title with a 198-188 victory.

“That made me feel great; I was actually really happy,” Rosales said about the first two shots in the final frame. “I made sure I stayed down and did everything I was supposed to. I needed it.”

Rosales, who will attend Prairie View A&M in the fall, said she had many ups and downs during the week but just wanted to stay near the top and reach match play.

“It feels great,” Rosales said about winning the title. “I’ve been at every cut for the last six years and to make it is just really awesome.”

The 2019 Junior Gold Championships had a record field of more than 4,000 participants competing for national titles and, through their performances at the event, six boys and six girls automatically earned spots on Junior Team USA for 2020.

Joining Patricia Rosales and Taylor Davis on the girls team are Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio; Elise Chambers of Ocoee, Florida; Faith Welch of Savannah, Tennessee; and Angelique Dalesandro of Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

In addition to Alec Keplinger and Daniel Chin, earning a spot on the boys team were Anthony Neuer of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; Cerell Cardines of Las Vegas; Joey Ocello of Neptune, New Jersey; and Peyton Smith, Loganville, Georgia.

This year’s U20 division had 809 boys and 440 girls.

Competitors in the U20 division bowled 16 qualifying games, with four games at a different center each day over four days, before the field was cut. After the remaining players bowled an additional five games, a second cut was made to the Final Advancers Round and those remaining bowled five more games to determine the 16 bowlers for match play.

In the double-elimination match-play bracket, all matches consisted of 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 U20 advancers rounds and match play.

CBS Sports Network aired the stepladder finals of all divisions of the 2019 Junior Gold Championships.

Over the next two weeks, CBS Sports Network will air the title matches of the USA Bowling National Championships presented by Sixlets. The U12 final will air Tuesday, Aug. 20, and the U15 final will be Tuesday, 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.