Las Vegas' Hattori off to strong start at Junior Gold Lucas Wiseman July 12, 2011 HENDERSON, Nev. - Zack Hattori of Las Vegas proved he was one of the top youth bowlers in the country last year by finishing ninth at the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championships. This year, he brings that confidence along with the fact the event is in his hometown.The 18-year-old recent graduate of Silverado High School has taken full advantage of the 2011 USBC Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick being in his stomping grounds. He is among 1,648 USBC Youth bowlers competing in the Las Vegas area this week."I do miss traveling, but I like that this year's tournament is here in Las Vegas," Hattori said. "I'm more comfortable because I'm in my own town, and I've bowled at these bowling centers a million times. Plus, I've got hometown people coming out to support me, too, so it's all working out."With two qualifying rounds completed, Hattori is among the leaders in the boys division with a 12-game total of 2,610, an average of 217.5. In Tuesday's second round, Hattori totaled 1,319 at Sunset Station's Strike Zone."I'm feeling pretty good going into the third day of qualifying tomorrow," said Hattori, who bowled on the 39-foot Seoul (medium) lane condition Tuesday. "The medium patterns are usually my weakest ones, and I bowled really good. So I'm looking forward to bowling on the long pattern tomorrow."Off the lanes, Hattori also has an impact on the local Las Vegas community. He collects donated used bowling balls to sell online with the proceeds going to help local Special Olympics athletes pay expenses to bowl in their national championship."I just feel like I should give back a little bit," Hattori said. "The people who bowl in Special Olympics, they just make bowling fun. It's not all about the competition for them, but I want to try to help them get to bowl in their national event, too."Qualifying at the Junior Gold Championships consists of three rounds over three days, wrapping up Wednesday. All bowlers in the field will roll 18 qualifying games before the field is cut to the top 124 boys and 62 girls (all ties advance) for the semifinals on Thursday. The top 16 boys and top 16 girls will advance to Friday's match-play finals. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast live on BOWL.com.In addition to national titles and scholarships, the Junior Gold Championships also 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.