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24th Malta Open Championships
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Barnes (pictured above; three ranking points in Round 1 and two points in Round 2) now leads the women’s field at The Orleans bowling center in Las Vegas after Thursday’s second round with five points. Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, North Carolina, led on the men’s side for the second consecutive day and has two points.
The players in the field earn points based on their finishing positions in each qualifying round. The top bowler of the block earns one ranking point, second place earns two points, etc., with the lowest total of ranking points after the five six-game blocks determining the 2018 Team USA Trials champions.
Barnes rolled games of 238, 212, 255, 215, 225 and 276 for a 1,421 total Thursday to finish the block in second place, and the 29-year-old right-hander has continued to trust the process that has helped her ascend from Junior Team USA to a champion on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour.
“Getting selected for the World Championships was a huge moment for me,” said Barnes, who earned a bronze medal in doubles with Shannon O’Keefe at the 2017 World Bowling Championships, which was held in Las Vegas in December.
“Everyone strives for the chance to represent their country on a world stage, and it was great knowing all of my hard work had paid off and that the coaches believed in what I was doing. To follow it up by having a good week really validated everything.”
While competing this week, Barnes also is serving the role of coach. Barnes is the assistant coach for the women’s bowling team at Vanderbilt University, and several of her student-athletes also are in the field.
On her way to the top of the standings Thursday, Barnes practiced what she preached as she watched the field attack the 44-foot London lane condition. Each round at the 2018 Team USA Trials will be contested on a different World Bowling lane condition.
“I have six of my girls from Vanderbilt here this week, and we’ve had a meeting before each block,” Barnes said. “I give them ideas on what I’m planning to do and what my backup plan would be since it’s important to have options.
“Today, I actually started out in a completely different part of the lane because I thought that’s where I needed to be from practice. I nearly shot 240 to start but had to make a three-zone change in Game 2 because I looked around and saw everyone was in that part of the lane. I thought that move would benefit me in the long run, and fortunately it worked out.”
Opening-round leader Liz Kuhlkin (left) of Schenectady, New York, is second overall with 14 points, and Tara Quinlan of Streamwood, Illinois, and Jordan Richard of Tipton, Michigan, are tied for third with 22 points. Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, is fifth with 25 points.
Shannon O’Keefe (right) of O’Fallon, Illinois, was the only player to top Barnes’ effort Thursday, rolling games of 254, 269, 233, 213, 227 and 290 for a 1,486 total. Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina, placed third with 1,400.
Troup posted the top score in the men’s field for the second consecutive round, firing games of 242, 268, 248, 257, 215 and 259 for a 1,489 total. Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, was second on the day with 1,464, and AJ Johnson of Oswego, Illinois, was third with 1,458.
Troup is seeing all aspects of his game line up through two rounds at The Orleans, but the 26-year-old two-hander knows he can’t get ahead of himself looking ahead to the next three days.
“I’m matching up really well and making a lot of good shots,” said Troup (left), a two-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour titlist. “Taking the lead yesterday gave me the confidence I needed for the event itself, and I was able to execute pretty well today knowing scores were going to be higher.
“But today is over with. I need to forget about today and focus on tomorrow. We’ll be on a different pattern and seeing different angles, so I need to regroup and focus for tomorrow morning.”
Johnson (right; five points) and Kris Prather of Milton, Florida (11 points), maintained their spots in the overall standings and sit in second and third, respectively. Darren Tang of San Francisco moved into fourth place with 12 points, and Bryan Hahlen of Greenwood, South Carolina, rounded out the top five with 24 points.
The United States National Amateur Bowling Championships also is being contested during Team USA Trials. The top three amateur men and top three amateur women after Sunday’s final round of qualifying will advance to a stepladder final, which will determine the U.S. Amateur champions. The winners will earn spots on Team USA.
After Thursday’s second round, Quinlan and Richard are tied for the top spot in the U.S. Amateur standings with 22 ranking points, and Clemmer is third with 33 points. The top three amateurs in the men’s standings are Hahlen (24 points), Brent Boho of Colgate, Wisconsin (31 points), and Matthew Farber of O’Fallon, Illinois (37 points).
To be eligible for this year’s U.S. Amateur, a bowler must not hold or have held a professional membership (PBA or PWBA) in 2017. Also, anyone who has won a professional title (regional, national or senior) as a professional is not eligible to compete as an amateur.
Competition will resume Friday starting at 11 a.m. Eastern with the men’s third round. BOWL.com’s BowlTV will provide wire-to-wire coverage of the 2018 event.
At the close of competition Sunday, Team USA and Junior Team USA for 2018 will be announced.
The top four men and top four women at the 2018 Team USA Trials, based on ranking points, will earn automatic spots on Team USA 2018. The National Selection Committee will select a minimum of two additional men and two additional women to join the team from the pool of players that competed during the week.
The National Selection Committee also will select a maximum of five men and five women for the team based on submitted resumes. Those applicants must have been Team USA or Junior Team USA members within the last 10 years or among the top 25 in earnings during the 2017 PBA Tour season or top 25 in points during the 2017 PWBA Tour season.
The U.S. Amateur champion in each division also will earn a spot on Team USA 2018. If the U.S. Amateur champion already has earned a spot on the team, the spot will be awarded to the next-highest Team USA Trials qualifier based on ranking points.
For youth competitors, the top four boys and top four girls, based on ranking points, will earn automatic spots on Junior Team USA 2018. Two additional boys and two additional girls also will be selected by the National Selection Committee based on performances from either the 2018 Team USA Trials or 2017 Junior Gold Championships.
They will join the youth competitors who already earned their spots on Junior Team USA 2018 through qualifying at the 2017 Junior Gold Championships.
Kyle Troup, Liz Kuhlkin lead after first day at 2018 Team USA Trials
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