HENDERSON, Nev. - The week started with 1,648 of the top youth bowlers in the country and now the field has been trimmed to the top 16 boys and top 16 girls for Friday's finals at the 2011 United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick.
With 16 games remaining, Gary Faulkner of Memphis, Tenn., took a commanding lead in the boys division, while Holly Harris of Long Prairie, Minn., holds a slim lead in the girls division at Sunset Station's Strike Zone Bowling Center.
Faulkner dominated the boys field in Thursday's semifinals, averaging nearly 244 or 12 games and now has a 30-game total of 6,753, an average of 231.7. He holds a 220-pin lead over Cameron Weier of Federal Way, Wash.
"I have been hurt and haven't been able to practice; I could barely get throw a game two weeks ago," said Faulkner, 20, a senior at Webber International who has been battling a left leg injury for over a year. "Physically I actually felt good today. The more I bowled, the better it felt."
In the girls division, Harris has totaled 6,280 for 30 games, an average of 209.3, and leads Natalie Jimenez of Rowland Heights, Mich., by 20 pins.
"I feel awesome with the position I am in," said Harris, who bowls collegiately for Wichita State. "I bowled well today. I struggled yesterday, and I just wanted to redeem myself. I just took a lot of breaths and stayed slow."
A total of 145 boys and 72 girls advanced to Thursday's semifinals, but only the final 16 in each division moved on to Friday's round-robin match-play finals, which will be broadcast live on BOWL.com.
In addition to national titles and scholarships, the Junior Gold Championships awards spots on Junior Team USA. The top four male and top four female finishers after match-play competition will automatically qualify for Junior Team USA 2012, and the National Selection Committee will award four at-large spots - two male, two female - from the pool of athletes that make match-play finals.
USBC Youth members who meet the average requirement (175 or higher for boys, 150 or higher for girls) can join the Junior Gold program and are then eligible to qualify for the USBC Junior Gold Championships. Visit BOWL.com/juniorgold for more information on the Junior Gold Championships and the Junior Gold program.
2011 USBC JUNIOR GOLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Sunset Station's Strike Zone, Henderson, Nev.
(30 games; Top 16)
1, Gary Faulkner, Memphis, Tenn., 6,753
2, Cameron Weier, Federal Way, Wash., 6,533
3, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 6,480
4, A.J. Chapman, Manchester, Iowa, 6,440
5, Kyle Anderson, Lockport, Ill., 6,404
6, Matthew Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 6,393
7, Zack Hattori, Las Vegas, 6,292
8, Graham Fach, Guelph, Ontario, 6,291
9, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 6,289
10, Andrew Koff, Miami, 6,268
11, Tyler Vostry, Plainfield, Ill., 6,251
12, Michael Coffey, Melbourne, Fla., 6,250
13, James Koss, Brighton, Mich., 6,234
14, Wesley Low, Palmdale, Calif., 6,232
15, Jacob Kent, Newark, N.Y., 6,215
16, Jakob Butturff, Henderson, Nev., 6,203
1, Holly Harris, Long Prairie, Minn., 6,280
2, Natalie Jimenez, Rowland Heights, Calif., 6,260
3, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 6,184
4, Jessica Earnest, Vandalia, Ill., 6,171
5, Elise Bolton, Merritt Island, Fla., 6,144
6, Melanie Hannon, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 6,080
7, Olivia Wirtz, Battle Creek, Mich., 6,069
8, Amanda Greene, Romney, W.Va., 6,064
9, Emily Lynn Huddleston, Omaha, Neb., 6,061
10, Brandy Hensley, Corpus Christi, Texas, 6,010
11, Kelsey Muther, Topeka, Kan., 5,995
12, Andreya Teuber, Swartz Creek, Mich., 5,988
13, Nicole Trudell, Coventry, R.I., 5,978
14, Kaitlin Quinn, Livonia, N.Y., 5,972
15, Addileen Pointer, Highland, Mich., 5,958
16, Amanda LaBossiere, Buzzards Bay, Mass., 5,954