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24th Malta Open Championships
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Troup averaged 228.5 for his six-game block Wednesday at The Orleans to pace the men’s field, rolling games of 258, 201, 238, 256, 233 and 185 for a 1,371 total. Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York, led the women’s division with games of 239, 175, 258, 220, 234 and 246 for a 1,372 total.
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. Troup and Kuhlkin each earned one point for leading the Wednesday’s round.
Troup (pictured above and right) recently finished his 2017 campaign on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour by putting together a strong performance at the PBA World Series of Bowling IX, which included a fourth-place finish at the PBA World Championship, the final major of the season.
The 26-year-old two-hander looks to take advantage of that momentum heading into 2018, and he hopes he’s able to join many of his fellow competitors on Tour by representing his country on the lanes.
“My goal in 2017 was to make a show at a major, and I accomplished that,” said Troup, a two-time PBA Tour titlist.
“That performance gave me a lot of confidence heading into 2018, and one of my goals for this year is to win a gold medal with Team USA, and that starts with making the team. I’ve been able to see a lot of my friends win medals and represent their country, and that’s something I want to do, too.”
On his way into the lead Wednesday, Troup elected to start with a safer game plan on the 38-foot Los Angeles lane condition as he looks to make his Team USA debut. Each round at the 2018 Team USA Trials will be contested on a different World Bowling lane condition.
“This pattern was very tricky, and I was a little worried coming in after the practice session,” Troup said.
“I started with urethane for the first couple of games to keep the pocket in play. I made a ball change later in the block and was able to move in and open the lane up. I had a little room both left and right, and that’s what you need to find. To come out big on the first day on one of the tougher patterns is a great start to the week, but I still need to take it one day at a time and go from there.”
AJ Johnson of Oswego, Illinois, finished Wednesday’s block in second with 1,355. Kris Prather of Milton, Florida, was third with 1,337, and Cortez Schenck of Phoenix and Darren Tang of San Francisco rounded out the top five with 1,324 and 1,310, respectively.
Kuhlkin (left) previously was part of Junior Team USA in 2014, but she has missed the previous two editions of Team USA Trials. The 24-year-old right-hander admitted she had some initial nerves as she prepared for her opening round but settled in, averaging nearly 240 in her final four games.
“I haven’t been able to come out for Team Trials the last few years, so I was nervous to start,” said Kuhlkin, a Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour titlist.
“I was excited to be back, and anyone who’s close to me knows how much this tournament and Team USA means to me. I’m really excited that I put myself in a place to have a good start, but it’s a long week, so I’m ready to keep pushing forward.”
Bryanna Coté of Red Rock, Arizona, finished in second with 1,358, and Josie Barnes of Hermitage, Tennessee, was third with 1,341. Jordan Richard of Tipton, Michigan, was fourth with 1,275, and Caitlyn Johnson of Lake Wales, Florida, was fifth with 1,270.
The U.S. 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 Wednesday’s first round, the top three amateurs in the men’s field are Schenck (four ranking points), DeeRonn Booker of Anaheim, California (six points), and Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California (seven points). Richard (four points), Johnson (five points) and Jennifer Loredo of Fresno, California (eight points), hold the top three spots in the women’s standings.
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 Thursday starting at 11 a.m. Eastern with the women’s second 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.
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