BY DAVE SCHROEDER
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Ryan Barnes and Lara Kurt went undefeated through double-elimination match play Thursday to claim the top seeds for the championship round in the 20-and-under division of the 2022 Junior Gold Championships.
Barnes, a Junior Team USA member from Denton, Texas, won all four of his two-game total pinfall matches on his way to the top spot. Barnes, who is the son of USBC Hall of Famers Chris and Lynda Barnes, defeated Julian Salinas, Justin Bohn, Charles Bostic and Cayleb Carey.
“The match against Charles (Bostic) was a big one to really lock it up I think,” said Barnes of the match that propelled him into a guaranteed spot in the championship round. “He’s a very tough opponent.”
After defeating Bostic, 416-346, Barnes, who will be a junior on the bowling team at Wichita State University, took out Carey by 100 pins (472-372) in the match to decide the No. 1 seed. Carey of Hobart, Indiana, earned the No. 2 seed.
Justin Bohn of Jackson, NJ, defeated Costa Gastouniotis of Goleta, California, in the match to determine the third and final spot in the finals, 426-388. Bohn is the son of USBC Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III and brother of two-time Junior Gold champion Brandon Bohn.
On the girl’s side, Kurt’s path to the No. 1 seed included wins over Katelyn Orisek, Mabel Cummins, Madyson Marx and Anna Callan. The victory over Cummins came by one pin (376-375) as Kurt converted the 3-6 spare in the 10th frame, and then got eight pins on her last shot to secure the win.
“Mabel has been such a good friend of mine for so many years,” said Kurt, who will be a sophomore on the bowling team at Savannah College of Art and Design. “She’s an amazing bowler and she’s very consistent. I knew I had to really make sure that I focused on myself. It was all very nerve-wracking. I knew that every shot I threw, I had to make sure I was zoned in on that shot.”
The match for the No. 1 seed against Callan of La Crosse, Wisconsin, wasn’t as nerve-wracking. Kurt built a 34-pin lead after Game 1 and expanded it over a low-scoring Game 2 to win by a score of 350-289. Callan, who will bowl as a red-shirt freshman at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, will be the No. 2 seed for the championship round.
In the match to determine the No. 3 seed for the finals, Jaelle Hamman, a Junior Team USA member from Jarrell, Texas, defeated Amanda Naujokas of Ronkonkoma, New York, 406-377. Hamman, who will be a sophomore on the bowling team at Mount Mercy University, is looking for back-to-back Junior Gold titles after winning the U18 division last year in Indianapolis.
Going undefeated and earning the top seed is important since the double-elimination format requires the top seed to be defeated twice in the championship round.
“I really wanted to have two chances at it,” said Barnes on the importance of being the No. 1 seed for the finals. “That’s a big advantage.”
Kurt, on the other hand, didn’t place as much emphasis on the No. 1 seed. But she had a good reason.
“I actually did not know that!” laughed Kurt when told the No. 1 seed would have to lose twice in the championship round to be defeated. “I’ve been carrying my same mindset all week. I know going into the finals I’m going to have my nerves, but I’m just going to tell myself to breath and be calm and just do what I’ve done all week.”
The championship round for the U20 boys and girls divisions will be contested Friday at Fairlanes Bowling Center. BowlTV.com will live stream the finals beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern.