Junior Team USA set to begin competition at 2024 IBF World Youth Championships

ARLINGTON, Texas – Less than five days after millions of people across America celebrated Independence Day, eight talented young bowlers are prepared to don the stars and stripes and represent Junior Team USA on the lanes at the 2024 International Bowling Federation World Youth Championships in Incheon, Korea.

The 2024 World Youth Championships, which will feature teams from 39 different countries, starts tomorrow and will run through July 18 and be contested at Incheon’s 32-lane Fiesta Bowling Center.

The American squad features Zach Andresen of Princeton, Minnesota; Jacob Bockstie of Nottingham, Maryland; Brandon Bohn of Jackson, New Jersey, and Braden Mallasch of Waupaca, Wisconsin, on the men’s side and Katelyn Abigania of San Diego, Gianna Brandolino of Channahon, Illinois; Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio, and Annalise OBryant of Ball Ground, Georgia, for the women.

The group will be led by Junior Team USA Head Coach Kelly Kulick, a United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer, and assistant coach Katie Thornton, who heads the men’s and women’s programs at perennial collegiate powerhouse Savannah College of Art and Design – Savannah.

Action at the World Youth Championships begins tomorrow with the official practice sessions and opening ceremony before tournament play kicks off on Wednesday. 

Singles qualifying and match play will take place from July 10-12, doubles qualifying and match play will run from July 12-14, team qualifying and match play will occur on July 15-16 and all phases of mixed team competition will happen on July 17.

The tournament will end on July 18 with semifinal- and final-round action in singles, doubles and team and their accompanying medal ceremonies.

When asked about their goals and expectations for the 2024 World Youth Championships, each American competitor cited a desire to reach the podium and have medals placed around their necks on the last day.

“I have very high expectations for our trip to Korea,” Bockstie said. “The coaches did a great job preparing us for this event, so my expectations are to go out there and win. I’d be happy with a gold medal, preferably in the team event so that we can share the moment together, but whatever happens, I’m just fortunate to be able to represent the USA in the sport that I love.”

Andresen’s sentiments were largely the same.

“First of all, I am super grateful for the opportunity to compete for Junior Team USA in Korea and represent my country,” Andresen said. “My goal for the event is to come home with as many medals as possible, but I think it would be coolest to win gold in the team event because sharing that moment with such a great group of people would mean so much to me.”  

Nevertheless, winning isn’t the only thing that will make the trip memorable for this crop of Junior Team USA bowlers.

“I’m confident in my ability and will knock down as many pins as possible, but I’m just thrilled to represent this exceptional team,” Mallasch said. “Getting to know these amazing individuals has already assured me that this experience will be unforgettable.”

For Bohn, the trip will feature a blend of the foreign and the familiar.

“I’ve never bowled in Korea, so that will be something new,” Bohn said. “However, I think that I can take in everything I’ve learned from bowling overseas in other countries in order to prepare for that.

“Obviously, I’m hoping to win; that’s our goal every time we lace ‘em up, but I’m also really looking forward to catching up with some of my old friends from other countries. I have a bunch of friends from Malaysia that I’ve met over the years, and I’ve met a few new guys from Finland this year as well as some guys from New Zealand. It will be cool to catch up with them and just soak it all in.”

For the Junior Team USA ladies, the prevalent theme was centered around the bonds formed closer to home.

“I’ve always wanted to represent my country at the most elite level,” Abigania said. “I know it won’t be easy competing with the best in other countries, but with my amazing teammates, I feel heavily supported. I know that I can rely upon them and myself and that we’ll bring the best out of one another.” 

Brandolino agrees.

“We all get along very well, so I believe we’re going to make it a great time no matter what happens,” Brandolino said. “I think we are experienced and knowledgeable enough to bring home some gold medals and make lots of great memories, so I am very excited and am expecting a lot on and off the lanes.”

Martin, who made history back in May when she became the youngest USBC Queens champion ever, is equally excited and shares Brandolino’s high expectations.

“The ultimate goal would be to bring back as many medals as possible and hopefully become world champions,” Martin said. “I think if we work together and compete at our best, that is definitely attainable. However, honestly, I’m just really looking forward to going out there with a great group of young ladies and coaches. I am excited for the opportunity.” 

OBryant shares a similar outlook.

“My hopes and expectations for the event is going over there, having a super amazing and fun time and bringing home a lot of hardware with this awesome team,” OBryant said. “I look forward to bowling on the world stage and being a part of that atmosphere for the first time.”

For more information on Junior Team USA, visit BOWL.com/JuniorTeamUSA.