Teen Masters Girls U14 National Champion

    08/10/11

    USBC Youth

    Republished courtesy of California Bowling News (Aug. 11, 2011)

    2011TMAshleyDunn2.jpgOn August 4, 2011 Ashley N. Dunn (pictured), Palmdale Calif., became the first person ever to win consecutive Teen Masters National Titles. Last year in Reno, Nevada at the National Bowling Stadium, Ashley defeated Chevelle Holstein of Sparks, Nevada to claim the inaugural Teen Masters Girls U14 National Championship.

    Ever since she threw the last ball of that championship match she has dreamed of having the opportunity to defend that title.

    This year the Teen Masters National Championships were held on the East Coast. The 18 games of qualifying along with match play and some semi-final rounds took place in Maple Shade, New Jersey’s, Laurel Lanes near Philadelphia.

    After the dust settled at Laurel Lanes 12 competitors remained, Four High School Boys, four High School Girls, two U14 Boys, and two U14 Girls. These 12 survivors would do what had never been done before, bowl in Vanderbilt Hall at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

    Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the United States, with over 750,000 passengers passing through it each day. The terminal's Vanderbilt Hall has been host to many great events in the past, but never bowling.

    The remaining participants would compete on a single specially constructed lane, flanked by grand stands on either side, and lit by stage lighting that you might find at a concert stage setting.

    Add to the off-beat setting the crowds of people stopping to watch and snapping photos, the noise of the hustle & bustle of a busy Midtown Manhattan day, and the PBA’s Xtra Frame film crews on hand in full force, and you have the makings of a stressful environment to play a precision sport where concentration is key.

    Although Ashley had improved tremendously since winning the Championship last year her quest to defend her title was met with more obstacles than the pressure packed stage that Grand Central Terminal would be. This year's Teen Masters tournament was to be bowled with restricted equipment.

    Each competitor was only allowed to use an Ebonite Mission 2.0, and an Ebonite Hard Ball along with a plastic spare ball. Restricting the use of equipment to just these three balls on the long & short sport patterns employed by the Teen Masters would make this a true test of skill.

    Ashley’s road to the finals began just as it had the year before starting out a good distance out of the lead after the first six games of qualifying on the long pattern, 145 pins out this year compared to 152 pins last year, slightly better at this point.

    By the end of the second six games of qualifying on the short pattern she had managed to cut the gap to first place down to 99 pins, but by this point last year she was only 38 pins down. She was off pace from last year even though her overall average was slightly higher at this point.

    It seemed as though the dream of defending her title was farther than ever. Last year she had not had any problem making up the gap in the third six games of qualifying that were contested on mixed oil pattern pairs, where the left lane was oiled long, and the right lane oiled short.

    In fact by the time the third block had ended last year not only had she made up the 38 pin deficit, but had blown out to a 110 pin lead, she had out paced the leader by 148 pins during the final six games of qualifying. Would she be able to do it again this year with the use of only two strike balls?

    I reminded her of how she had out paced the field on mixed pairs last year, I assured her she could easily make up 99 pins, after all there was much more riding on being the tournament leader this year, you see in the U14 Division the leading Girl & leading Boy received a double bye, they would both become the #1 seed without having to go through match play.

    The leaders of both U14 Divisions would have their day in that magnificent hall in Grand Central Terminal, and the next four positions would compete in best-of-five match play until the two seeds were determined.

    A good nights rest brought a bright, although hot and humid sunny day to Maple Shade and Laurel Lanes with the promise of better things to come with just six games standing between her and the dream of defending her title.

    Okay, enough of the drama, you all know she did it, I mean the title clearly says she is the National Champion (again). Ashley out paced the leader by 182 pins over the six games on mixed pairs to move comfortably into the #1 seeded double bye position with a 83 pin lead over the 12 game tournament leader, 13-year-old Taryn Gray of Greenfield, Texas.

    Taryn managed to fight her way through two rounds of match play, that had proven to be much more difficult than anyone would have expected, given how she had commanded the lead through most of qualifying. So the finals were now set for the U14 Girls, Ashley Dunn vs. Taryn Gray.

    I said no more drama, but come on; everything was unique about this year's tournament. The finals would be a best-of-two match, that’s right best-of-two, meaning that if each person won one game then there would be some kind of tie breaker.

    Wrong, not a 9th & 10th frame roll-off like you might expect (at a minimum with so much at stake), it would be a single ball roll-off; one roll of the ball would determine the champion. So it was, Taryn won the first game, and Ashley won the second game.

    Ashley had selected the pattern they played on being the #1 seed, she had choice of wearing red or black jersey, she chose red because that’s what she was wearing last year when she won, she had choice of throwing the one ball that would decide who was champion or letting Taryn have a go at it.

    Ashley chose to go first, she looked relaxed in her setup, she seemed solid as ever through her approach, her swing looked as good as ever, the ball was off her hand good, perhaps even one of the better shots of the day by getting the ball just a bit further right at the break point. Nearly high flush, but slightly heavy leaving a 4 pin only for a 9 count, a good decision going first.

    2011TMTarynGray.jpg2011TMWesleyLow.jpgTaryn (pictured left) would step to the line knowing she could strike to win, but having the pressure of thinking strike. Taryn was a bit too cautious with her final shot, letting the ball come off her hand much further right than she had been playing all day, and without hardly any rotation, nearly a wash out..........but got a 7 count.

    Ashley wins 9 to 7, and proves again that dreams really can come true if you work hard, and believe!

    In the Boys U14 Division the Champion was Wesley Low, Jr. (right), also of Palmdale, CA. In fact Ashley & Wesley both bowl at Brunswick Vista Lanes in Palmdale, and are both coached by Mark Baker.

    2011TMZackHattori.jpg2011TMGabriellaMayfield.jpgThe Boys High School Division was won by Nevada’s Zack Hattori (left), and the Girls High School Division runner-up was California’s own Gabriella Mayfield (right) from Lake Isabella, CA. With three of the four Champions being from the West Coast ....... hmmmm, it’s no wonder “The Best Bowlers Come From California”!

    For all the more important details like how Zack Hattori won a $64,000 scholarship in this tournament, and the thousands of dollars won by the other Champions & runners-up, courtesy of Ebonite and the Dexter shoe company.....look it up, pba.com or teenmastersbowling.com, or just Google Teen Masters bowling, you’ll get pages of hits.

    By the way, since this paper is circulated in Nevada too, let me make sure the record is straight. Ashley was the first person to win consecutive Teen Masters titles, and in fact the first person to ever win two Teen Masters titles period, but Zack Hattori accomplished the very same feats, except he did it just a few hours later. Congratulations Wesley, Zack, and Gabby!

    Ashley would once again like to thank The California Bowling News for publishing her accomplishments, her coach Mark Baker for helping her continuously improve, and the man that drills her bowling balls, Rusty Bryant of the Pro Zone at Mission Hills Bowl, and in this particular instance, although he may never read it, a very special thanks to Mr. Mo Pinel for coming up with the layouts that worked in this restrictive equipment tournament.

    Restrict the equipment, but you can’t restrict the knowledge of ball dynamics. Is it the bowler, or the ball? I think in the modern game it must be both.

     


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