Upper Peninsula youths go for the Junior Gold

Steve Brownlee

July might seem a long time ago since some of us were complaining of the heat.

But it was during that summer month four Upper Peninsula young people set out to bowl in a large national tournament in the Cleveland area.

Known as Junior Gold, these competitors — one each from Marquette and L’Anse and two from Iron Mountain — won their way into the national finals by bowling well at U.P. events in the nine or so months that preceded the big event.

All four are or were top-notch high school bowlers, with graduates now freshmen or sophomores in college.

They bowled in the oldest division, the Under-20, that also includes U-15 and U-12 for boys and for girls.

Hunter Negri of Marquette Senior High School, now a freshman at Northern Michigan University, started hot in the four-day qualifying.

He shot 777 for four games. Even though that’s less than a 200 average, it’s pretty good considering the competitors were bowling on a challenging Sport shot and also not given any clue what they were bowling on beforehand.

The Sport shot is much more difficult to bowl on than the average league shot.

A few years back the U.S. Bowling Congress studied what specific averages bowled in Sport leagues convert to “standard” averages for handicap tournaments.

Checking online, starting around 150 on up, a Sport average converts at least 20 pins higher, with a high of 29 pins difference right around the 220 standard average range.

Reversing their conversions, a 200 average league bowler can expect to average only about 172 or 173 on a Sport condition, even with lots of practice.

Back to Negri, though. He was in 195th place out of more than 1,500 bowlers after the first round. His two-handed style didn’t serve him as well after that, though, as he subsequently rolled 743, 606 and 672 for a 2,798 total for 16 games, or 597th.

Tucker Hemmila of L’Anse, a sophomore at downstate Spring Arbor, struggled as he opened with 685, then powered his way to 759, 774 and 687 for 2,905, or 361st.

From Iron Mountain, Brooke Fornetti, a freshman on the bowling team at Alma College, shot 702, 692, 683 and finished strong with 772 for 2,849, or 235th among girls.

And Zach Spera, who is a 16-year-old sophomore at IM High School, put together blocks of 638, 621, 653 and 668 for 2,580, or 1,123rd place as one of the youngest competitors in U20.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.