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24th Malta Open Championships
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The World Youth Championships will take place in Detroit from July 24-Aug. 3.
Five-time Junior Team USA member Wesley Low of Palmdale, California, a 21-year-old two-hander who attacks the lane from the left side, will lead the young contingent into Thunderbowl Lanes, where he hopes to help the Junior Team USA boys to a fourth consecutive team gold medal.
Low was part of the victories in Hong Kong in 2014 and Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2016.
This year’s event will mark his third trip to the World Youth Championships, where he has earned five gold medals, three silver medals and a pair of bronze medals, and he’s ready to take on more of a vocal leadership role in 2018.
Along with the team success, Low is the defending champion in doubles and singles.
He will be joined in Detroit by a trio of Junior Team USA veterans – Cortez Schenck of Phoenix, Jeffery Mann of West Lafayette, Indiana, and Bryan Hahlen of Greenwood, South Carolina – all of whom will be competing at the World Youth Championships for the first time.
“I’m now the oldest one in the group, and the one with the most experience, so I’ll do my best to share what I’ve learned and help keep everyone as relaxed as possible,” said Low, a student-athlete at Wichita State University.
“All of us had a great time at camp, and no matter who was selected for the World Youth Championships, we knew we’d have a great group that gets along very well. Those of us going see each other at collegiate events, we talk a lot and we all have a common goal, which is to win as many medals as possible, so we’re expecting to bowl well and have a great time together.”
The girls’ team will consist of four World Youth Championships rookies, three of whom are members of Junior Team USA for the first time.
The veteran of the quartet is five-time Junior Team USA member Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina.
The 20-year-old right-hander is the 2017 and 2018 National Tenpin Coaches Association Division II/III Player of the Year and helped the McKendree women to a pair of national titles in 2017 – the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Bowling Championship and Intercollegiate Team Championships.
Clemmer will be joined in Detroit by her McKendree teammate Taylor Bailey of Joliet, Illinois, Webber International’s Caitlyn Johnson of Rockwell, North Carolina, and 16-year-old Mabel Cummins of Elburn, Illinois.
The last time the Junior Team USA girls won the coveted team gold medal at the World Youth Championships was in Bangkok in 2012. They claimed bronze in 2014 and silver in 2016 in a loss to Korea.
The World Youth Championships is held every two years.
“I knew going into camp that it was a world championships year, and I really wanted to be a part of it,” Clemmer said. “I’ve changed a lot about my game and outlook, and for Bryan (O’Keefe) and the coaches to want me there means a lot. One thing we always say and believe is ‘allow yourself to be great,’ and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Clemmer, who has collected eight total medals in two trips to the Pan American Bowling Confederation Youth Championships, and another seven gold medals at the Lee Evans Tournament of the Americas, is hoping she can use her experience and the things she felt during those events to help keep her teammates comfortable and focused in Detroit.
It also means a lot for the Junior Team USA members to be in their home country, which will allow friends, family and teammates to support them in person.
“I’m excited to get there and ecstatic that we’re going to be bowling on our home turf,” Clemmer said. “We’ll have a lot more friends and family there, and all their support really could be the difference in giving us the extra push we might need in a big moment or for a gold medal.”
The Team USA coaching staff also selected eight bowlers to represent the United States at the Lee Evans Bowling Tournament of the Americas. That event will be held at Strikers Family Sportscenter in Sunrise, Florida, from Aug. 5-11.
The Junior Team USA members chosen to compete at the Tournament of the Americas are Kaitlyn Eder of Lithia, Florida, Allie Leiendecker of Wooster, Ohio, Kristopher Yadao of Pearl City, Hawaii, and Adam Zimmerman of Deer Park, New York. The four will compete in the Junior A division, which is for competitors under the age of 20.
Four members of the U15 Developmental Team have been selected to represent the United States in the Junior B division, for competitors under the age of 16.
The group includes Jennifer Loredo of Fresno, California, Amanda Naujokas of Ronkonkoma, New York, Spencer Robarge of Springfield, Missouri, and Solomon Salama of Beverly Hills, California.
The event is being held for the 56th time and also features categories for adults, seniors and super seniors.
In 2017, the youth representatives from the United States earned 16 of a possible 18 gold medals.
“Every year, this group of bowlers gets stronger and stronger, and we’re incredibly excited to get out on the lanes this summer and bowl against the best from around the world,” said O’Keefe, the Junior Team USA head coach.
“It was tough to choose just a few from such a talented group. Now, we’re confident, ready to compete and looking forward to bringing home some medals.”
For more information on Junior Team USA, click here.
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