Team semifinalists set at 2018 World Bowling Youth Championships


All you can do is continue putting yourself in position to win and hope that eventually the pins fall your way.

The Junior Team USA girls have done that in each event this week at the 2018 World Bowling Youth Championships, and they'll get another shot at their first gold medal Thursday in the championship round of the team event.

The foursome, all first-time participants at the World Youth Championships, finished the six games of qualifying at Thunderbowl Lanes in third place with a 4,987 total and will face No. 2 Malaysia (5,005) in the semifinals. The other semifinal match will feature top-seeded Korea (5,103) and No. 4 Sweden (4,956).

The Junior Team USA girls are looking for their first team title at the World Youth Championships since 2012. They claimed bronze in 2014 and silver in 2016 in a loss to Korea.

"The team event is what we came here for, and we really want to win gold," said Taylor Bailey, a first-year Junior Team USA member from Joliet, Illinois. "We accomplished our first goal, which was making the medal round, and now we'll do our best to finish the job. We all work together so well and execute well, and it's so exciting. It's incredible just to be here, but to win team gold would be incredible times a million."

Singles silver medalist Caitlyn Johnson of Rockwell, North Carolina, led the way for the United States in the team event with a 1,287 six-game total and was joined by Mabel Cummins of Elburn, Illinois (1,276), Bailey (1,272) and Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina (1,152).

"Overall, the girls bowled great, picked each other up when they needed to and stayed calm when we had to change the game plan a little bit along the way," Junior Team USA head coach Bryan O'Keefe said. "The goal was to make the medal round, and we did that. They don't give you bonus pins for leading. The great news is that we have really good ball reaction on the fresh. We also know that anything can happen in the Baker format, but we're excited and ready."

Semifinal competition will get underway with the boys action at 9 a.m. Eastern, and the girls are scheduled to hit the lanes at 11:30 a.m. EDT. The format now will shift from traditional games to best-of-three Baker matches.

For the first time in almost a decade, there will be a new champion in the boys team event at the World Youth Championships, after the three-time defending champion United States failed to advance to this year's semifinals.

The Junior Team USA boys, who won the team gold medal in Bangkok in 2012, Hong Kong in 2014 and Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2016, finished ninth in 2018 with a 5,008 six-game total.

Bryan Hahlen of Greenwood, South Carolina, was the high player for the United States in the team event, turning in a 1,306 six-game effort. He was followed by Cortez Schenck of Phoenix (1,270), Jeffery Mann of West Lafayette, Indiana (1,253), and Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California (1,179).

Japan, the Day 1 leader, held on to the top spot for the semifinals with a 5,191 total and was followed the Philippines (5,147), while Qatar and Finland tied with 5,146. Mexico rallied late with a 955 finish but fell seven short of the medal round.

Philippines anchor Merwin Tan threw three strikes in his final frame to cap an 875 final game and catapult his team to the No. 2 seed, and they'll meet Qatar in the semifinals. Qatar earned the third spot by having the higher team game in qualifying, compared to Finland, 982-955. Japan and Finland will face off in the other semifinal.

All competitors at the 2018 World Youth Championships bowled 18 games this week, six in each event (singles, doubles and team), and gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded based on the 18-game pinfall totals.

Qatar's Ghanim Aboujassoum topped the individual standings and earned the all-events gold medal with a 4,141 total, a 230.06 average. Han Jaehyeon of Korea earned the silver (4,093) and Finland's Niko Oksanen claimed the bronze (4,078).

The girls all-events gold medal went to Malaysia's Nur Sahar, who used a 267 final game to reach her 3,937 winning total. Colombia's Juliana Botero and Korea's Hong Sunhwa will share the silver medal after tying with 3,903.

The event's top individual performers, 24 boys and 24 girls, advanced to Masters match play, which will take place Thursday and Friday. Seven of the eight Junior Team USA players competing this week advanced.

Junior Team USA's Schenck qualified eighth (3,957), Hahlen finished 18th (3,856) and Mann tied for 21st place (3,854). It took an average of 214.06 to make the top 24.

Low, who had medaled for Junior Team USA in every event during his first two appearances at the World Youth Championships finished 79th (3,533).

The 21-year-old two-hander and five-time world champion will leave the 2018 tournament without a medal. He'll end his Junior Team USA career having won more than two dozen medals in international competition.

"Obviously, there's some disappointment, since it's my last time, but I think this all has been a wonderful experience, and even though bowling didn't go so well for me this week, the rest of the guys bowled great, and I'll be there to cheer them on tomorrow," said Low, who owns a 300 game and the all-events record (4,224) at the World Youth Championships, both accomplished in 2014. "I've enjoyed meeting people from around the world and spending time with some amazing coaches and teammates. Bowlers everywhere are getting better, and it showed this week. That says a lot about the future of the sport."

All four Junior Team USA girls advanced to the Masters portion of the 2018 World Youth Championships.

Clemmer qualified sixth with a 3,854 all-events total, Bailey was ninth with 3,814, Johnson was 11th with 3,804 and Cummins qualified 12th with 3,798. It took a 203.11 average to qualify for Masters in the girls division.

The top eight players in each division earned first-round byes. The bracket-style Masters will feature best-of-three competition.

The World Youth Championships is held every two years, and the 2018 edition has brought more than 200 competitors from 37 countries to the Detroit area to bowl for medals in singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters competition.

World Bowling is providing livestream coverage of the event, and bowling fans from around the globe will be able to watch the competition live from start to finish. Coverage will include all qualifying, semifinal and final rounds.

For more information on the 2018 World Youth Championships or to watch the livestream, visit