U12 JUNIOR GOLD CHAMPIONS DECIDED ON CBS SPORTS NETWORK
INDIANAPOLIS – Not too often do you see a national record holder competing in a youth bowling tournament, much less in a 12-and-under division.
The U12 finals in the boys and girls divisions of the Junior Gold Championships presented by Storm, Roto Grip and Master were televised Tuesday on CBS Sports Network, the first of three shows taped for broadcast at the event.
Hannah Diem of Seminole, Florida, topped Elizabeth Coutta of Smyrna, Tennessee, 385-319, in the two-game, total-pins final to win the girls title while Edgar Burgos of Dorado, Puerto Rico, captured the boys’ title by getting past Anthony Mastroianni of Brooklyn, New York, 392-367.
The U15 finals will air Aug. 2 and the U20 finals will be televised Aug. 9 on CBS Sports Network, with each show starting at 9 p.m. Eastern.
But the finalists in the U12 division were the first group to bowl under the bright lights of the TV set at Western Bowl, and for Diem the bright lights were nothing new.
She gained national attention in 2013 when she bowled a perfect game at the age of 9 years, 6 months, 19 days, to become the youngest bowler to record a certified 300 game. She later would appear on the Steve Harvey Show because of the accomplishment.
At the 2016 Junior Gold Championships, Diem showed she also has a pretty good game. While she just made the cut to the top eight for match play, she beat the top seed twice to reach the U12 finals, including a one-pin victory in the match to determine who made the TV show.
In the TV finals, Diem took to a 36-pin lead against Coutta after the opening game, then Diem opened Game 2 with a spare followed by four consecutive strikes before having two open frames.
“I was feeling pretty comfortable but knew I couldn’t risk messing up anything,” Diem said. “I was a bit frustrated after missing a few spares, but I knew I still had a little room. I felt I could still win it if I struck and made the rest of my spares.”
She would go strike, spare, spare with a 9-count on her fill ball for a 204-174 victory in Game 2 and the 385-319 total-pins victory. Diem is coached by United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame member Lucy Sandelin, who started working with Diem in 2013, and she credited Sandelin, saying, “she’s amazing. She’s always been there for me.”
And it was taking Diem a little time for the accomplishment of winning a Junior Gold Championships title to sink.
“It doesn’t feel real, honestly,” said Diem. “It feels like I’m dreaming this.”
Coutta did have one major accomplishment at Junior Gold – meeting her favorite bowler, Jason Belmonte, before the final and getting to talk to him after her match. She also enjoyed her TV experience.
“I liked it but, yeah, I was kind of nervous,” said Coutta, who already plans to be back next year. “Now, I’ve got to practice more.”
In the boys title match, Mastroianni would take the opening game despite the fact Burgos started with four consecutive strikes. But after the strike string, Burgos would open in three of his next five frames while Mastroianni would miss just one single-pin spare to take a 188-187 victory.
“I was just really nervous and my head was not in the game,” said Burgos, who started bowling when he was four and earned the top seed for match play. “Then my dad, in the second game, calmed me. He said ‘You got this.’”
Burgos’ dad was one of several supporters there to cheer on Burgos, including his grandmother, and his sister, Yarelis.
In Game 2, Mastroianni again would have just one open frame, but could manage only one strike while Burgos stayed clean for a 205-179 victory to take the title with a 392-367 two-game total.
“This is amazing, because after the three years I’ve been here, finally achieving it … I can’t believe it,” Burgos said.
Mastroianni said, for him, the week had been a great experience.
“I got to meet all these great new friends, and the friends that I already have competed against before, so it really was a great week for me,” Mastroianni said.
Go to BOWL.com/JuniorGold to learn more about the Junior Gold program and the Junior Gold Championships presented by Storm, Roto Grip and Master.
2016 JUNIOR GOLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
PRESENTED BY STORM, ROTO GRIP AND MASTER
At Western Bowl, Indianapolis
(Two-game matches decided by total pinfall)
Edgar Burgos, Dorado, Puerto Rico, def. Anthony Mastroianni, Brooklyn, N.Y., 392-367
Hannah Diem, Seminole, Fla., def. Elizabeth Coutta, Smyrna, Tenn., 385-319