While the teammates were honing their skills and getting to know each other on and off the lanes, the Team USA coaching staff was evaluating the players and discussing potential selections for two upcoming international events.
Six players will wear the red, white and blue at the 2018 Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society • Million Tinkle World Men Championships, where the United States is the defending champion in the coveted team event. The tournament will take place in Hong Kong from November 22 to December 5.
Headed to the South China Athletic Association Bowling Center in Hong Kong are Andrew Anderson of Holly, Michigan; Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas; Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona; Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina; EJ Tackett of Huntington, Indiana; and Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, North Carolina.
Matt Farber of Plainview, New York, and Matt Russo of Millstone Township, New Jersey, were selected to represent Team USA at the upcoming Pan American Bowling Confederation Champion of Champions event in Rio de Janeiro from Oct. 22-25. The event will be held at Rio’s Bowling Social Club.
Barnes, Butturff and Jones are returning members of the gold-medal-winning team at the World Championships, while Anderson, Tackett and Troup all will make their international debuts as members of the Team USA adult team.
“To be selected to represent the USA in the World Championships is an honor and dream come true,” said Troup (left), who also will represent Team USA at the 2018 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Las Vegas in November.
“I’ve always wanted to represent the red, white and blue in international competition. I’m fortunate to be selected with the amount of talent we have on our team this year to choose from. I’m excited to experience the atmosphere and the thrill of competition with some of my best friends against the best bowlers in the world.”
The 2017 World Championships was a combined event – men and women – something that happens every four years. The last World Men’s Championships took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2014. Team USA left that event without a gold medal.
Barnes (right) enters the 2018 World Men’s Championships with more than 20 years of experience at the event, having bowled for the first time in 1995, while Jones made his debut at the World Youth Championships a year later. Both have been a consistent part of the team’s success since professionals were invited to compete just over a decade ago.
Last year, Barnes and Jones (left) had the opportunity to bowl doubles together for the first time in their Team USA careers, and they went on to claim the gold medal at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas.
The three first-timers may be new to the World Championships, but they’ve all proven themselves on the biggest stages and calmly handled a variety of pressure situations.
Tackett (right) is an 11-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour champion and past PBA Player of the Year (2016), Troup is fresh off a win at the Storm Lucky Larsen Masters in Sweden and Anderson is a two-time winner on the PBA Tour this year, including the United States Bowling Congress Masters.
“I’m extremely proud of the things I’ve done on the PBA Tour, but I don’t think you can feel like you’ve had a complete career until you’ve won a gold medal with Team USA,” said Tackett, who won two gold medals and two silver medals at the 2011 PABCON Youth Championships.
“My experience traveling with Junior Team USA was awesome, and I’m looking forward to going to Hong Kong with this group of guys, too. It means a lot to have this opportunity, and win or lose, I’m going to give it 100 percent until the last ball.”
Butturff (left), the lone left-hander headed to Hong Kong, has collected four PBA Tour titles, 19 PBA regional titles and won the 2017 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup during his short time in the spotlight.
The difference in winning as an individual and winning with a team, especially while representing their country, definitely isn’t lost on the players.
Anderson (right) twice had the opportunity to compete at the Lee Evans Tournament of The Americas (2013 and 2014) as a member of Junior Team USA, and he’s excited for this next opportunity in his young career.
The 23-year-old right-hander had a chance to see Team USA in action during the 2017 World Championships in Las Vegas, and that not only fueled his desire to make the team, but also to make the World Championships roster.
“I’ve been online to watch every Team USA event over the last eight or nine years, and I’ve always wanted to feel that feeling,” Anderson said. “You always wonder if all the hard work is worth it, and getting the phone call and invite to the World Championships was indescribable. Every time the phone rang, my heart dropped, and when it ended up being Rod (Ross) on the other end, I didn’t even know what to say.”
The Team USA women will set the tone for the year this week at the PABCON Women’s Championships in the Dominican Republic, before the action shifts to Brazil.
Farber and Russo will have some company on their trip to Rio de Janeiro, where they will be joined by longtime Team USA members Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, and Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York.
“I know I say this every year, but the players seem to get more and more talented, and the depth of the team continues to grow. Making these selections gets tougher, too, as any combination of the bowlers would be amazing.”
For more information on Team USA, Click here.
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