Junior Gold Notebook – Day 2: All for one

Competitors in the U15 boys division, along with their coaches, are part of the large contingent of bowlers from the Buffaloe Lanes youth program.


DETROIT – Youth bowling is a community and there’s no better place than the Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International to see youth programs from coast-to-coast – and beyond – on display.

Patti Mauerman, who runs the Illinois State Scholarship Tour, qualified 83 of the bowlers at this year’s event, though said there are actually more than that from her state.

“I see it as a family,” Mauerman said about her youth bowlers. “They are friends and many stay friends when they go off to college.”

The Buffaloe Lanes youth program out of North Carolina always brings a sizeable group to the Junior Gold Championships, and has about 50 kids at this year’s event. Melissa McDaniel, who chairs the International Bowling Campus Youth committee and is a USBC Silver coach, is the youth director for the program.

David McLanahan is one of six coaches spreading out across the eight centers to help their bowlers on the lanes. A former Junior Gold bowler, he was working with the team of eight U15 bowlers at Astro Lanes and knows a big reason for the success is the support of the parents.

“We have the best parents, the most supportive parents I’ve ever seen,” McLanahan said.

Hawaii also has about 50 bowlers at this year’s event, including Jake Brett of Honolulu, who was tied for ninth after the opening round. He’s bowling in his fourth Junior Gold and also traveled twice to the States to bowl the Team USA Trials in Las Vegas. He said competing against a field that includes top collegiate talent and professionals helped him prepare for other tournaments.

Youth bowling is growing in Hawaii, Brett said, which makes for better competition, but the competitors are a tight-knit group.

“We’re really close .. we’re all there for each other,” Brett said. “We all support each other. That’s just the Hawaii culture.”

Lights out
AMF Rose Bowl Lanes has been the center to make a move. The top three scores, and eight of the top 13, in the U17 boys division were rolled at the center on the first day.

But Justin Aboud of San Jose, California, took it up another notch during Tuesday’s opening squad, rolling games of 235, 253, 288 and 205 for an astounding 981 set.

It is the highest block of any age group, so far.

“I kept everything in front of me, I didn’t try to swing it too much, and then tried to make my spares,” said Aboud, who is competing in his sixth Junior Gold. “I’ve learned I need to be able to play all parts of the lane. I can’t be one dimensional because each pattern is going to demand something different.”

Crunching numbers
More than 4,000 bowlers are participating in the 2019 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International. The U17 boys has the largest field with 868 participants while the U20 boys has 800 bowlers. The largest division for the girls also is U17, though its 443 players tops the U20 division by just three participants.

The cut numbers for each division:



Final Advancers

Match play


no cut




no cut



























U17 division makes its debut

Speaking of the divisions, the Junior Gold Championships 17-and-under division is making its debut this year. The U17 division was added to ensure peer-to-peer competition and because, historically, the event had shown about half of the bowlers in the U20 division were eligible for a U17 division.

Spencer Robarge of Springfield, Missouri, who won the U12 title at the 2015 Junior Gold Championships and two U15 USA Bowling National Championships titles, likes the change because it provides more opportunities for bowlers.

“I think it was a good idea, and I think we will find another champion that might not have won in U20,” said Robarge, who held the U17 boys division lead after the opening round. “It will showcase more good bowlers There are more good bowlers than just the 16 who make match play or the Advancers Round.”

Brandon Bonta of Wichita, Kansas, also on those two U15 USA Bowling National Championships title teams and the U15 runner-up at last year’s Junior Gold Championships agreed with his teammate as he, too, moves into the new U17 division this year.

“I think it is good for Junior Gold just because of how big Junior Gold has become,” Bonta said. “For me, personally, I don’t think it really mattered. I’m still going to try my hardest to bowl as well as I possibly can.”

Bouncing back
Don’t think things can change fast in the Junior Gold Championships? Just talk to U20 girls competitor Danielle Milo of Orchard Park, New York, who had a 625 four-game block on Monday then came back with an 898 set at AMF Rose Bowl Lanes on Tuesday.  

So how do you explain a 273-pin swing?

“I think it was just more my style (today) ,” said Milo, who is bowling in her third Junior Gold. “I didn’t move that much today; I was right up the gutter the whole day. I was pretty upset with how I bowled (Monday). I wasn’t playing the lanes right; the ball choice wasn’t that great. I was much more level-headed and threw the ball better today.”

While she hasn’t made the cut in her previous appearances, she did take a step forward with the big block.

“I’m still down a little bit,” she said, “but it does help.”
Junior Gold ready
In his first trip to the Junior Gold Championships, Ashton Yamasaki of Portland, Oregon, started with an 828 set at Astro Lanes in the final squad on Monday. His effort landed him in 13th place in the U15 boys division.

“There’s a lot more kids than I thought it would be,” said Ashton, whose goal was to stay even (800). “This is really fun. I had nice people on my pair, too. It’s nice crossing with different people every game.”

Ashton said he didn’t think he was ready to take a shot at Junior Gold until this year because he didn’t start bowling until the fall of 2015. He ended up choosing to focus on bowling instead of baseball, where he was a pitcher, and the two-hander says bowling now “is definitely my favorite sport.”