ARLINGTON, Texas - The top youth bowlers in the country will head to the Buffalo, N.Y., area starting this weekend with dreams of earning spots on Junior Team USA and with more than $200,000 in scholarships on the line at the 2014 Junior Gold Championships.
The event, which is presented by Ebonite, Columbia 300, Track and Hammer, officially gets underway with the first round of qualifying on Monday. A record 2,770 United Sates Bowling Congress youth members are eligible to participate in the 2014 Junior Gold Championships.
The youth bowlers will compete at six bowling centers in the suburban Buffalo area. The girls will compete at Classic Lanes in Kenmore, N.Y., Tonawanda Bowling Center in Tonawanda, N.Y., and AMF Lancaster Lanes in Depew, N.Y. Competition in the boys division will take place at AMF Thruway Lanes and AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga, N.Y. and at Transit Lanes in Williamsville, N.Y. AMF Airport Lanes will host the final rounds of competition for all bowlers.
Bowlers will compete in six divisions this year - 20-and-under boys and girls, 15-and-under boys and girls and 12-and-under boys and girls. The U20 and U15 divisions will bowl 15 games of qualifying over three days before the first cut is made. The U12 division will bowl 12 games of qualifying.
The fields will eventually narrow to the final 16 in the U20 and U15 divisions and the final eight in the U12 divisions for the double-elimination match-play bracket. Winners will be determined the afternoon of July 18.
Three defending champions from last year's event will return with hopes of becoming repeat champions. Wesley Low of Palmdale, Calif., and Julia Bond of Aurora, Ill., won the U20 division last year, while Cortez Schenck of Phoenix will be back to try and defend his U15 title. U15 girls winner Taylor Russell of Belden, Miss., has moved up to the U20 division this year.
BOWL.com's BowlTV will have live streaming of the event starting July 16 at 7 p.m. Eastern with the U15 advancers round and continuing until the champions are crowned the afternoon of July 18.
Automatic Junior Team USA spots will be awarded to the top two boys and top two girls in the U20 division after 25 games of qualifying. Additional automatic spots will be given to the winner and runner-up after bracket play in the U20 division. If one or both of the finalists in the bracket already earned a spot through qualifying, the automatic spot becomes an at-large selection.
The National Selection Committee will select two boys and two girls from the match-play field with all bowlers, including U15, eligible for at-large selection. The final eight spots - four boys and four girls - on Junior Team USA will be determined at the USBC Team USA Trials in January.
The Junior Gold Championships has a history that dates to 1998, when the event was held at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. That event drew 538 participants.
This year's event has sold 2,770 spots, shattering the previous record of 2,328 set last year in Detroit.
For more information on the event, visit BOWL.com/JuniorGold.
USBC YOUTH OPEN BEGIN THURSDAY
The Bowling.com Youth Open Championships begin Thursday at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, N.Y. The event takes place Thursday through Saturday and then returns July 17-27.
The non-qualifying tournament is patterned after the USBC Open Championships and USBC Women's Championships. Youth bowlers compete in team (four players), doubles, singles and all-events.
The tournament, which will award an estimated $100,000 in scholarships this year, has four age-based divisions - U8, U12, U15 and U20.
For more information on the USBC Youth Open Championships, visit BOWL.com/YouthOpen.