Champions crowned in U12 and U15 at 2023 USA Bowling National Championships

INDIANAPOLIS – Teams representing the Southeast and Coastal South regions swept their way to titles in the 12-and-under and 15-and-under divisions, respectively, at the 2023 USA Bowling National Championships Thursday.

The best-of-five match finals were taped by CBS Sports Network and will air on consecutive Tuesday evenings in July at 7 p.m. Eastern. The U12 finals will air July 18 and the U15 finals will air July 25. provided live coverage of the qualifying and match play rounds leading up to the finals.

Bowling out of the Southeast Region in U12, the X-Men defeated the Lower Great Lakes region’s EYT Phenoms 2.0, in a 3-0 sweep. In U15, it was the Coastal South region’s Eagles earning a 3-0 sweep over the Pocket Punishers from the Mountain region.

The championship round featured a four-person Baker format with the lead-off bowler bowling the first, fifth and ninth frames, the second bowler bowling the second, sixth and 10th frames, the third bowler bowling frames three and seven, and the fourth bowler bowling frames four and eight. 

Bowling for the Southeast region’s X-Men in the U12 finals were Ean Laws, Ryan Campbell, Nolyn Conway, Jax Neal and Vincent Cintron. Head coach Geran Conway and assistant coach Patrick Campbell guided the team.

Comprising the Lower Great Lakes region’s EYT Phenoms 2.0 team were head coach and USBC Hall of Famer Diandra Asbaty, assistant coach Chad Hanicak, and athletes Tyler Anderson, Miles Gordon, Alexander Hanicak, Eason Taylor and Madden Asbaty.

The X-Men captured a low-scoring Game 1, 181-137, and even though the outcome of the match was not in doubt at the end, the 10th frame still provided a memorable highlight. X-Men head coach Conway subbed in Cintron for the 10th frame, and he calmly struck on all three shots (the only three-bagger by either team in Game 1) with his unique back-up ball delivery, making Cintron an instant crowd favorite.

Perhaps Cintron’s performance loosened both teams up, as the scoring pace improved in Game 2. The Phenoms put together five consecutive strikes in frames four through eight, but the X-Men countered with a six-bagger late in the match to secure a 255-225 win, putting them one game from the title.

Game 3 was the closest of the match. The Phenoms bowled a clean game, with the exception of an open frame in the third, and finished with the last four strikes. But the X-Men were up to the challenge, striking on seven of eight shots in frames two through nine for a 209-203 win to earn the championship.

For the X-Men, the win meant something special as they were bowling for their friend Mallory Newton who is battling Stage 4 cancer. The victory for the X-Men came on her 15th birthday.

“Mallory lives in Anderson (North Carolina) and bowls in the upstate with us,” said coach Conway. “She bowls various tournaments, including the Beast of the East Tour, and she bowls in a lot of local tournaments, as well as the all-stars of South Carolina. Our team knows her well and we wanted to win this for her, not just for our team.”

Although the competition was tough, the X-Men were still able to enjoy the experience.

“The best part about the whole thing was just competing with all our friends, getting to know the players on the other teams and just having fun,” Neal said. “Plus, being able to win for Mallory makes it even better.”

In the U15 division, the Coastal South Eagles brought a four-person team to the event, so they didn’t have the luxury of any substitutions. The roster for the Eagles featured athletes Gavin Murray, Ridgely Potter Jr., Emmanuel Guevara and Carly Rhodes (the only female in the finals), and head coach Scott DeBoer.

Bowling for the Mountain region’s Pocket Punishers were Diego Lujuan, Blaine Canfield, Jonathan Van Der Merwede, Ronin Rivera and Raider Ramsdell. Anthony Rivera was the head coach and he was assisted by Mike Lujan.

In Game 1, the Eagles struck in eight of their first nine frames, leaving open frames in the seventh and 10th. The Punishers also had two open frames and eight strikes, but couldn’t string the strikes together as effectively as their opponent and the result was a 229-203 win for the Eagles.

It was more of the same in Game 2. After an open frame in the first, the Eagles strung together six consecutive strikes before another open frame in the eighth. They finished with the last four strikes for a 245 game. The Punishers never could find any momentum as they didn’t throw consecutive strikes until a three-bagger late in the game. Open frames in the second and fifth kept them trailing in every frame after the first, and they ended up with 194, leaving the Eagles on the verge of the championship.

Game 3 was a lower-scoring affair and a closer match. The Punishers held an eight-pin lead after eight frames, but an open frame after a 2-10 split in the ninth, combined with a strike and spare in the 10th, left them within reach of the Eagles. Potter, working off a spare by Murray in the ninth, doubled in the 10th to seal the match, and the championship, 179-166.

“In this event, every frame is important,” Guevara said. “You have to make adjustments quickly and you have to trust them to bowl well. You have to make your spares, make good shots and keep the mood positive. It’s an all-around fun tournament, but it’s also hard.”

Afterward, coach DeBoer talked about what it was like to coach the Eagles.

“This particular group is easy to coach,” DeBoer said. “They do their own stuff, so most of my job is just making sure they see what I see and then helping them understand when to make a change, but they do most of it on their own. We stress communication among the team members and I try to keep the mood light. I’m just really proud of this group.”  

The USA Bowling National Championships featured 11 regions in U12 and 16 in U15. Each team that competed in Indianapolis earned their spot by winning their region.