Looking Back At Some USBC Junior Gold Bowling Standouts

Some Of The Greatest Junior Gold Bowlers Ever

By Michael Cousins

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With Junior Gold underway, this week we’re going to be looking at some of the best youth bowlers of all-time. Given the number of great bowlers, there will surely be many bowlers that I fail to mention. However, this is just my personal opinion.

The list won’t be in any particular order. I am just going to go over some of the most successful Junior Gold champions of all-time. There will be many excellent bowlers left off, but if you go over a list of past champions, it is really a who’s who of bowling excellence, so narrowing it down to just five of each is very challenging.

Starting with the men:

Nathan Bohr

Bohr was unbelievably polished in youth, and his versatility and polish showed through in 2000, when he won Junior Gold. In addition to being an excellent youth player, Bohr has gone on to have a successful adult career as well, winning countless regional titles and having some success on the PBA Tour as well.

Sean Rash

Obviously a huge name on the PBA Tour, Rash was just as big a name in youth. He was a dominant player with loads of physical talent. In youth, Rash was just physically superior to his competitors. This was most evident in 2002, where he won the event.

Matt O’Grady

O’grady won the event in 2006 — my first year competing — and, man, was it amazing to watch. O’grady had an unorthodox quality to his game that was really intriguing and fun. At that time, I was 14 years old, and it was the first time I remember watching someone and thinking “wow.” O’grady also captured his first PBA national title this year, so obviously he’s still quite the competitor.

Marshall Kent 

In my opinion, the most successful male youth bowler of all-time. As a friend, it was awesome to see. As his competitor, it was frustrating. Having lost to him a time or two, I can personally tell you he was one of the best competitors I have ever seen. He had a level of confidence that most just don’t have in youth. And it wasn’t a fake confidence; it was a known superiority. Kent won everything, and it all started in 2010, where he literally won every big event that summer, including Junior Gold.

Wesley Low

The only two-time champion on the men’s side has to make the list. I have been bowling against Wesley since he was too short to ride the carnival rides (so like last year), and he has been good ever since. He’ll be making a ton of noise on the tour when he’s done college.

Now onto the women:

Stefanie (Nation) Johnson 

One of the two best female youth bowlers ever. Anyone that has bowled Junior Gold knows how hard it is to win that tournament once. There are so many variables and factors that go into it that make it ridiculously challenging. So, of course, Stefanie won it three times. In a row. Unreal. She’s obviously gone on to have loads of PWBA success as well. But what she did in youth will likely never be matched again.

Shannon Pluhowsky 

The other three-time Junior Gold champion was every bit as successful and every bit as dominant as Stefanie in youth. And like Stefanie, has had a ton of PWBA success, as well. For these two to win back-to-back-to-back titles is insane, and something that will for sure never be done again.

Missy (Bellinder) Parkin 

Missy Parkin, like the other two aforementioned ladies, is now a household name on the PWBA tour, but in youth she was just as good, winning the first-ever Junior Gold Championships in 1998.

Julia Bond

The Nebraska standout has been excellent collegiately and was just as excellent as a youth bowler. Bond won the event in 2013, and has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. Surely she’ll have an exceptional career on the PWBA tour, as well, if she so chooses to compete.

Brittni Hamilton 

The 2010 champion was one of the most mentally tough and composed youth bowlers I have ever seen. Mentally, she was just way better than her competitors; her maturity level on the lanes was off the chart at a very young age. Hamilton was also a Teen Master’s champion. She wasn’t the most physically intimidating player, but what she lacked in power, she made up for in sheer determination.

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