Quality youth bowling will be paid off in gold - Junior Gold, that is - at Superior Lanes the first Saturday in May.
That's when the Marquette Township center is hosting a Junior Gold Championship qualifying tournament on May 3 at 1:15 p.m.
This is a scratch - no handicap - tournament open to young bowlers ages 20 and under, with separate male and female divisions. One in five entries advances to the national finals to be held in Buffalo, N.Y., in July.
From a look on the U.S. Bowling Congress website, www.bowl.com, a list with all the Junior Gold qualifiers nationwide from April on shows this is the only one that will be held north of Green Bay, Wis., and for Lower Michigan, the only one north of Saginaw and Muskegon.
So it may draw top-flight youth bowlers from all over the U.P. and even into the northern Lower Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. But with more bowlers will be more who get to go to Buffalo.
The application shows that local scholarship points will also be awarded, and the basis for scholarship awards indicates that a high school grade-point average plays into it.
Cost for the tourney will be $60, with $20 covering lineage and $40 for national finals costs. A USBC Junior Gold membership is required, which is $30, along with a USBC Standard Youth membership of $17.
Prospective entrants still must have their youth bowling eligibility by not having become a USBC adult member.
Superior Lanes has fliers at its front desk listing the rules in detail, and in talking to manager Amy Manning, it looks like the oiling pattern will either be similar to what was used during the U.P. Bowling Conference season or will be a certified Sport shot, an even tougher-to-score-on pattern that should put accuracy and spare shooting at a premium.
Spectators won't have to pay any admission to come down to the center and watch these potential stars of tomorrow, some of whom are already stars today.
The event opens with six games of qualifying, followed by a cut to the top bowlers for two-game matches that continue until a champion is crowned.
On that same day, the second annual Superior Lanes-Red Rock Lanes Baker Challenge will start at the Marquette center. Featuring some of the best adult bowlers in Marquette County, there are men's and women's divisions with five bowlers representing each center. Bowling is scheduled to begin after the Junior Gold tourney finishes.
Competition will be completed at Red Rock in Ishpeming the following day, though I didn't catch a start time for that.
The format each day is 15 Baker-style games, where bowlers alternate frames to come up with a single-game score. Points are awarded for winning games, blocks of games and an entire day's schedule.
Last year, the men from Superior Lanes and women from Country Lanes - now Red Rock Lanes - were victorious.
Now on to The Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week for April 4-10:
Joe Ogea broke the two-week lock by Red Rock's Tuesday Major League in the men's race. That league, which did claim second and third this week, had swept the top three spots on the men's side for the past two weeks.
What's funny about this is that Ogea actually is a member of the Tuesday Major. But he bowled his award-winning series in another Red Rock league, the Friday Nite Mixed, when he shot 188 pins over his 194 average with 770 on games of 289, 223 and 258.
That just nipped Josh Willey, who was 185 over his 166 average with 578 and a 223 high game. In third was Tim Teall at 153 over his 170 average with 663 and 239 tops.
For the women, Brandy Greet of Superior Lanes' Friday 800 Mixed was the winner after she shot 116 pins over her 128 average with 500 on games of 199, 163 and 138.
Runner-up was Raquel Rasmussen of the Tuesday T&T Ladies at Red Rock, shooting 108 over her 105 mean with 423 and a 188 best, while in third was Jennifer Ogea of the Wednesday SIR Federal Credit Union loop at Red Rock, going 92 over her 154 average with 554 and a 202 tops.