BY DAVE SCHROEDER
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The country’s top youth bowlers are heading to Western Michigan as the Grand Rapids area hosts the 2022 Junior Gold Championships for the first time.
The 2022 event started Monday with the official practice session and first round of competition in the 20-and-under division, and this year’s edition will run until July 23. More than 4,000 bowlers have qualified for the 2022 event, which is being held across eight centers in the Grand Rapids area.
Bowlers in four age-based divisions for boys and girls – U12, U15, U18 and U20 – will be competing for a scholarship fund of approximately $ 500,000, and spots on Junior Team USA and Junior Team USA’s Developmental Team also will be up grabs in Grand Rapids.
BowlTV.com will once again provide select livestream coverage of the 2022 event, including the stepladder finals in each division. Coverage will be limited to four of the eight centers during the qualifying rounds of the various divisions.
The centers being used for the 2022 Junior Gold Championships include AMF Eastbrook Lanes, Fairlanes Bowling Center, Northway Lanes, Royal Scot Golf and Bowl, Sherman Bowling Center, Spare Time Entertainment Center, Spectrum Entertainment Complex and Westgate Bowl. The stepladder finals for each division will take place at Fairlanes Bowling Center.
The U20 division will compete from July 11-15, with all competitors bowling four four-game qualifying blocks over two days to determine the players moving on to the advancers round.
Advancers will bowl an additional five games before a second cut is made, and a final five-game block will determine the 16 athletes in the boys and girls divisions advancing to the double-elimination match-play bracket.
Bracket matches will consist of two games, with total pinfall determining the winner. Three players will emerge from bracket play to compete in the stepladder finals to determine the champion. The two finalists in the match-play bracket will bowl to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the stepladder, while the winner of the Elimination Bracket will be the No. 3 seed.
With the finals in each division being broadcast on BowlTV.com, the top overall seed for the stepladder would have to be defeated twice in the true double-elimination format.
The championship rounds in the U20 division will be held July 15 at 9 a.m. Eastern.
With the maximum age for United States Bowling Congress Youth membership changing to 18 with the start of the 2020-2021 season, the U20 division was moved to the first week of the event to break away the adult competitors from the youth divisions (U12, U15 and U18).
The Junior Gold Trade Show and registration for U12, U15 and U18 athletes will take place July 16 at DeVos Place. This year’s trade show will feature more than 90 total vendors, including more than 65 colleges and universities. Seminars will be available from Brunswick, Kegel, Motiv and Storm. Another highlight of the trade show are autograph stations featuring pros from the Professional Bowlers Association and Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tours. Concessions and official Junior Gold merchandise also will be available.
A new addition to Junior Gold this year is the Party in the Park, which takes place July 17 at the Millennium Park Grant Pavilion from 2 pm. to 7 p.m. Registered athletes for this special event will receive a free food ticket that can be utilized at the on-site food trucks. In addition, the first 2,000 registered athletes also will receive a free commemorative T-shirt (limited sizes). Food and T-shirt tickets can be picked up at the Party in the Park booth at the trade show or on-site during check-in.
The Party in the Park, which is sponsored by partners Brunswick, I Am Bowling, Kegel, Motiv and Storm Products, will feature a DJ and several fun activities including outdoor games and equipment to utilize such as footballs, soccer balls and frisbees. There also will be featured areas for activities such as cornhole, a video-game truck, a dunk tank and much more. Staff members and pro athletes from the sponsoring partners will be on hand to mix and mingle at this event.
The three youth divisions will have their official practice sessions from July 15-17, with competition running from July 18-23.
Qualifying competition for the U15 and U18 divisions shall consist of four four-game blocks over four days. Total pinfall for the 16 qualifying games will decide who will advance. After five additional games, there will be a second cut. All players who make the second cut will bowl an additional five-game block to determine the final advancers to double-elimination match play for each division.
The U12 division also will have four four-game qualifying rounds over four days, before the first cut is made, and advancers will bowl an additional four games to determine the top eight competitors for double-elimination match play.
The stepladder finals, which follow the same format as the U20 stepladder finals, in the U12 (10 a.m. Eastern), U15 (2 p.m. Eastern) and U18 (6 p.m. Eastern) divisions all will take place July 23.
In addition to the Junior Gold Championships, a pair of affiliated youth events will be taking place in the Grand Rapids area. The USA Bowling National Championship will be contested at AMF Eastbrook Lanes and Fairlanes Bowling Center on July 13-14, and the Youth Open Championships will be contested at Spectrum Entertainment Complex.
The USA Bowling National Championship is a team event for U12 and U15 athletes. Bowlers must have qualified to compete in this event. Qualifying and match play take place on July 13-14 at AMF Eastbrook Lanes with the finals set for 4 p.m. (U12) and 7 p.m. (U15) on July 14 at Fairlanes Bowling Center.
The Youth Open Championships, a non-qualifying tournament open to all USBC Youth bowlers, has competition in singles, doubles and four-person team. Squads will be held July 13-15, July 22-24 and July 30-31.