Booker leads men, Pluhowsky women after Day 1 at 2024 Team USA Trials

LAS VEGAS – Sometimes a break is needed in order to fully reset and have the confidence to compete with some of the top bowlers in the country.

DeeRonn Booker of Albuquerque, New Mexico, took a six-year break from competing at Team USA Trials to refine his craft, and, for at least one day, it worked as he led a strong field of 175 men at Gold Coast Bowling Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Booker shot games of 264, 198, 257, 224, 278 and 245 for a 1,466 total, averaging just over 244.

Jake Peters of Henderson, Nevada, was second for the day with 1,419 while Josh Kennedy of Blaine, Minnesota, was third at 1,416. Zach Anderson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1,413) and former Junior Team USA member Alec Keplinger of Wichita, Kansas (1,407), grabbed the remaining spots in the men’s top five during Round 1.

Defending U.S. Amateur champion Brandon Bohn of Jackson, New Jersey, finished his block with 1,273.

Booker’s confidence going into Team USA Trials was boosted in July when he won an Eagle in the Regular Doubles event during the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships in Reno, Nevada. The Open Championships was also where he won his spot into the field at this year’s Team USA Trials.

“When I won the spot at Nationals, I said ‘alright, let’s do something with it,’” said Booker after Round 1.

During Monday’s Team USA Trials practice session, Booker spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to attack all five lane conditions, using the first hour to make a primary plan of attack and the second hour going through the possibilities of how the lanes may break down.

For Day 1, because of the shorter 37-foot oil pattern, his plan was to start outside with urethane and make a jump in with a stronger ball to combat the carrydown due to the urethane balls that many others were also using, and it worked to perfection.

“I didn’t want to force anything like I had done in previous events; I just saw what the lane was doing and made my adjustments,” Booker said. “I feel really good about the rest of the week and being patient with it.”

Booker wasn’t the only competitor shooting high scores either as Daniel Chin of Daly City, California, and Team USA member Darren Tang of Las Vegas both shot games of 290 during their blocks. Kennedy authored the high game of the day, however, firing  a 299 during Game 4 of qualifying.

The men will be back on the lanes Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern for Round 2 of qualifying.

On the women’s side, Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, continued her storied Team USA career by starting Day 1 with a 290 and never looking back en route to a 1,455 total and first place in the 153-player women’s field.

Even in her 24th Team USA Trials, Pluhowsky continues to stay motivated to represent her country.

“This is one of my favorite tournaments, and it’s always an honor to be on Team USA,” said Pluhowsky.

After starting last year’s event in 25th place and finishing in 45th overall, Pluhowsky wanted to get off to a better start in 2024, and she did exactly that, shooting games of 290, 211, 212, 238, 257 and 247 to come in with an average of more than  242 for the day.

Pluhowsky knows that each day at Team USA Trials is different, however, so she isn’t going to bask in the moment for too long, knowing that there are still four days and four tough oil patterns still to come.

“Each day is a new day, and I’m going to start over tomorrow,” Pluhowsky said.  

Lara Kurt of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, and Maya Avilez of Staten Island, New York, were not far behind Pluhowsky, shooting 1,451 and 1,443, respectively. Mia Stolakis of Worchester, Massachusetts, was fourth with 1,407, and 2023 Junior Gold Championships U18 champion Gianna Brandolino of Channahon, Illinois, rounded out the top five with 1,378.

Kurt also shot 290 during Game 4, right after Team USA veteran and 2021 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Player of the Year Bryanna Coté of Marana, Arizona, shot 280 on the same pair.

Defending Team USA Trials champion Breanna Clemmer of Lebanon, Illinois, finished with a 1,276 total while defending U.S. Amateur champion Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio, ended the day with 1,259.

Pluhowsky and the rest of the women’s field will return to the lanes for Round 2 at 6 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

For complete Day 1 standings, CLICK HERE