Versatility is key at Junior Gold

INDIANAPOLIS - With three lane patterns at three bowling centers over three days, the North Pointe Junior Gold Championships presented by Brunswick tests the versatility of the players competing in the event.

Zack HattoriCompeting on a long, medium and short pattern, the players are challenged by the United States Bowling Congress Sport Bowling conditions. And for the 20-and-under boys who wrapped up competition on the short pattern Tuesday morning, they were put to the test like never before.

Of the 1,048 U20 boys in the field, only 26 escaped averaging 200 or better at Western Bowl on the 33-foot Sydney pattern, which comes from the World Tenpin Bowling Association bank of lane patterns.

"This is probably one of the hardest short patterns I have ever bowled on," Junior Team USA member Zack Hattori (pictured) said. "Versatility is huge because I made big moves and changed my hand positions all day. It was very touchy."

Hattori competed in the first round Monday at Expo Bowl on the long pattern (45 feet, Mexico City) and had a five-game total of 1,054, including a 300 game. In Tuesday's second round, he shot 950 on the short pattern.

Another bowler who faired well on the long pattern Monday was Tanner Spacey of Burien, Wash. He shot 1,102, which included a 300 game. Tuesday's second round on the short was a different story, however.

"I was fighting the short pattern all day," said Spacey, who totaled just 812 Tuesday. "If you weren't making shots and not making spares, then you were shooting 150 games. And that's pretty much what I was doing."

In addition to the 300 games by Hattori and Spacey, Meeco Walker of East Cleveland, Ohio, also threw a perfect game at Expo Bowl. Walker's 300 game came in the final game of the second round in the 15-and-under boys division. He has a 10-game total of 2,159 and is among the early leaders in his division.

After all competitors complete their 15-game totals Wednesday, the field will be cut to the top 150 in the U20 boys, top 81 in the U20 girls, top 32 in the U15 boys and the top 24 in the U15 girls.

This year's Junior Gold Championships features the largest field in the 15-year history of the event. In addition to the 1,048 U20 boys, there are 569 athletes taking part in the U20 girls competition. In the U15 division, 213 boys are bowling, while 99 girls are competing.

Those who advance will bowl five additional games Thursday before the cut is made to the top 64 in the U20 divisions and top 24 in the U15 divisions. After Thursday, the top 16 in each division move to the double-elimination match-play bracket.

Bowling fans will be able to watch the competition live from Junior Gold on's BowlTV starting Thursday at 8 a.m. Eastern. Coverage will continue until the champions are crowned Friday afternoon.