For 16-year-old twins Erin and Ethan Klemencic, bowling is a family affair. The Powder Springs duo, who are juniors at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, spent their summer training for and competing in the Junior Gold Championships, an annual national tournament for the top male and female youth bowlers in the U.S. The tournament has eight divisions — U12 Boys, U12 Girls, U15 Boys, U15 Girls, U18 Boys, U18 Girls, U20 Boys and U20 Girls.
Through their hard work and dedication, the twins progressed through the different levels of the tournament. Erin had advanced each of her previous three attempts at the Junior Gold competition, though this year’s event marked her first appearance in the BowlTV finals. Even better, she clinched the national champion title in the U18 Girls division as the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America Junior Gold Champion for 2022.
“It’s really amazing to come out here and do what I love to do and finally be rewarded by walking away with a championship,” Erin said. “To have this happen is a dream come true. It’s just awesome.”
To compete at Junior Gold, athletes first must compete in a qualifying tournament or league. More than 3,200 United States Bowling Congress youth members competed at this year’s event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The goal is to win not only the national title, but also a portion of the $500,000 scholarship fund and a spot on Junior Team USA, an elite group of top American youth who represent the U.S. in international bowling competitions.
From a pool of 569 female bowlers, Erin advanced to the winners bracket, where she bowled a 223, defeating Annalise O’Bryant of Ball Ground. By winning the national championship, Erin also became a member of Junior Team USA.
Ethan also advanced from the initial pool of 1,208 bowlers, averaging 202.56 per game. He ultimately finished the tournament in 147th place.
“They both did amazing,” their mother, Cathy Klemencic, said. “It’s an honor to qualify for the tournament. Not everyone gets to participate in the tournament, as you have to qualify to go. Making the first cut — or the Advancers round — is also a big deal. This was the first year Ethan made the cut. That is a huge improvement for him from previous years. All of the hard work with their bowling coach is paying off for Ethan and for Erin.”
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