August 26, 2001:
Four Collegians Qualify For 2001 Youth Masters Arena Finals
08/26/2001 - Killer "B" Promotions
AKRON, OHIO - Four college students remain in contention for the ultimate "survivor" honor in youth bowling—the 2001 Youth Masters Championship Finals—following the August 1-4 Youth Masters National Finals at Fred Borden's Stonehedge bowling center in Akron.
Sean Rash, Anchorage, Alaska; Patrick Clark, Concord Township, Ohio; Josh Harper, Hopkinsville, Ky., and Marc D'Errico, Rochester, N.Y., all 19, slugged their way through 24 games of qualifying to join 28 other players in the final, "knockout" match play phase of the competition. Each won three "best-two-of-three-games" head-to-head matches to qualify for the Championship Finals, which will be held March 23, 2002, in the same Virginia Beach, Va., arena venue that will host the Professional Bowlers Association's "Battle of Little Creek" pro tournament. The winner receives a $25,000 scholarship, while the runner-up takes home $12,500 in scholarship funds. The third- and fourth-place finishers win $5,000 scholarships.
Rash enters the Youth Masters Championship Finals as the most experienced and titled of the foursome. In addition to being a member of Junior Team USA 2001 and 2002, Rash is the reigning American Bowling Congress Chuck Hall Star of Tomorrow awardee. He has already won gold medals in international competition, including the 1998 Lee Evans Tournament of the Americas and the 2000 American Zone Youth Championships. The lanky righthander is attending and bowling for Wichita State (Kan.) University, where he is a sophomore majoring in business management with a minor in public relations. He has 13 career 300 games, a career-high average of 230.0, and five three-game series of 800 or better, with the high being 821. Rash received a bye into the 2001 Youth Masters finals after finishing among the top 32 in 2000. He averaged 192.2 for 30 games this year, winning all three of his "knockout" match play pairings, two games to none.
Clarke is one of two lefthanders who will compete in Virginia Beach. A freshman at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan where he is studying accounting, Clarke was the 1999-2000 Junior Masters Association of Pennsylvania Bowler of the Year. His three 800 series are topped by an 824 high, and he has seven 299 games to his credit. Clarke qualified for the national finals out of the Port Clinton, Ohio, regional qualifier, one of 59 Youth Masters qualifying events held throughout the United States from March through June. Clarke averaged 193.06 in Akron; like Rash, he won his knockout matches by scores of 2-0. He plans on bowling for Saginaw Valley this year.
Harper, the other lefty in the final four, learned to bowl in Italy, where his father was stationed with the U.S. Army. He represented Tennessee in the 2001 Coca-Cola Youth Championships and was this year's Young American Bowling Association singles champion in Kentucky. Harper has also won youth bowling titles in Tennessee, Ohio, and several southern states. He is attending Pikeville College in Pikeville, Ky., as a freshman studying business management and will compete on the school's bowling team. Harper has one 300 game to date and his high three-game series is 794. Harper, who led the 198-player field in Akron after the first squad, eventually averaged 194.74 for 31 games. He made it to the nationals by carding a final 230 game in the Lexington, Ky., qualifier to snare the second and last berth in that tournament.
D'Errico qualified for match play in the highest position of the four finalists, finishing fourth after 24 games with 4,712 pins and eventually posting a 192.87 average for 31 total games. D'Errico won the 2000 Professional Bowlers Association Al Thompson Scholarship Award and, as the only youth bowler on his team, medalled in the 2000 New York State Empire Games. He competed for his Aquinas Institute of Rochester high school varsity bowling team and was named Most Valuable Player in his senior year, when he averaged 220. D'Errico is a sophomore this year at the University of Kansas, where he is majoring in psychology; as a freshman, he helped the Jayhawks finish fifth at the 2000 Intercollegiate Bowling Championships. He qualified for Akron by finishing second at the Buffalo, N.Y., regional qualifier. He has rolled a perfect game twice and his best three-game series is 845 (298, 247, 300).
To a man, each of the four finalists found this year's Youth Masters challenging and a true test of physical and mental skill. The tournament, open to male and female bowlers between the ages of 13-19 as of August 1, 2001, was contested on American Bowling Congress/Women's International Bowling Congress-approved Sport Bowling conditions and employed the heavier gold bowling pins seen in PBA telecasts the past several years.
"This tournament isn't a place where you can see lots of honor scores; spares are the key to success in this format," said Rash. "The young athletes who can control the mental game and never give up are the ones who do well."
"With the combination of qualifying games and match play, the more talented and experienced bowlers can show what they can really do," said Clarke. "I think I did so well because I was able to adjust to the way the lanes were made to be played. Spares and consistency had a lot to do with my success."
"I've bowled in a lot of tournaments where total pins for two games wins, and I think the best-two-of-three-games format makes sure the better bowler wins, not just the one getting breaks and throwing one good game," offered Harper. "Everyone bowls on the same shot and there is no advantage or disadvantage for any one bowler."
"I think the format is great," stated D'Errico. "The combination of the tough shot and the pro-style format brings the best bowlers to the top. I haven't bowled in any other tournament that is as strenuous and varied."
The best-two-of-three-games format will be carried over to the Virginia Beach finals. The penultimate pairings have D'Errico taking on Clarke and Harper going against Rash, with the two winners advancing to the title-match showdown. The 2001 Youth Masters champ will receive, in addition to the $25,000 scholarship, an automatic entry into the 2002 U.S. Amateur Bowling Championships along with Buffalo, N.Y.'s Nicole "Nikki" Lewandowski. The Youth Masters sends the top-finishing male and female to the USABC, and Lewandowski, who placed 39th in the 198-player field in Akron, topped the 23 girls who competed side-by-side with the boys on a "scratch" (no extra pins awarded based on gender) basis.
"The hundreds of young men and women who participated in this year's Youth Masters should be commended for their willingness to put their egos on the line and test themselves in a grueling athletic format," said Killer "B''s Gary Beck, founder of the program. "The fact that they do this to earn money for a college education speaks well of them and their generation. We look forward to crowning a grand champion this year and making next year's Youth Masters an even better event for these worthy athletes."
The Youth Masters, a youth bowling tournament program that offers scholarships based on bowling performance, was started in 1997. The program is organized and administered by Killer "B" Promotions. A total of $296,000 has been awarded in scholarships thus far, including $100,000 in 2001. For additional information, go to http://www.youthmasters.com/ on the Web.
Post your congratulations on BowlingFans.com's Message Board Community.