LAS VEGAS – Greg Young Jr. of Rockledge, Florida, is a world champion and a collegiate national titlist, and he’s now looking to add Eagle winner to the list after a clutch performance at the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
Needing at least two strikes in his final frame to take the Regular Doubles lead outright with Aaron Ruiz of Nashville, Tennessee, Young delivered three powerful strikes to lock up the top spot with a 1,447 total.
The two entered the 10th frame with a chance to get to 1,481, before Ruiz left a 4-10 split and was unable to convert it.
By getting one pin on the spare attempt, it meant that a strike and a single-pin spare from Young would land them in a tie with Wisconsin’s Jonathan Schalow and Chad Svendsen, who previously held the lead with 1,436.
“I knew we were close to the doubles lead, but I didn’t know exactly what I needed,” said Young, a three-time member of Junior Team USA. “When I came off the approach after the last shot, the guys told me I needed the strike on the 11th ball to take the lead. There definitely were nerves, even though I didn’t know for sure what I needed.”
Young, a 25-year-old right-hander, led the effort Thursday at the South Point Bowling Center with games of 257, 222 and 279 for a 758 series, while Ruiz, a 24-year-old right-hander and USBC Open Championships first-timer, added 235, 234 and 220 for a 689 set.
The team environment is not unfamiliar to Young, who helped Junior Team USA to the team gold medal at the 2014 International Bowling Federation World Youth Championships, and then as a sophomore, delivered the strike that claimed the men’s title for McKendree at the 2016 Intercollegiate Team Championships.
The victory was the first national title for the Bearcats, and Young helped the team back to the winner’s circle two years later as a senior.
Ruiz’s Open Championships debut in Las Vegas got off to a slow start in the team event at the South Point Bowling Plaza, but he was able to get comfortable and pick up some momentum during doubles and singles at the South Point Bowling Center.
The 2011 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Division I individual state champion was a late addition to the team after someone backed out, and his longtime friendship with team member Kamron Doyle, a past member of Team USA and Junior Team USA, helped him immediately feel comfortable within the group.
His debut included sets of 696 in singles and 556 in team for a 1,941 all-events total, just behind Young, whose sixth tournament appearance ended with 639 in singles and 568 in team for a 1,965 total.
“I struggled in team and knew I was bowling with a great bowler for doubles, so I wanted to give him 650,” Ruiz said. “After leaving the split in the last frame of doubles, I asked Greg if I should go for it, and he said to get one. I also heard the crowd yelling to get one. I did, and we’re excited to be in the lead now.”
Young and Ruiz’s performances over the two days helped Thanks Cousins of Spring Lake, Michigan, into fourth place in Team All-Events with a 9,761 total.
Left-hander and team captain Mike Dole, who bowled his doubles and singles sets Thursday morning, led the effort with a 1,985 all-events total and was followed by Doyle (1,975), Young, Ruiz and Riley Smith (1,895).
Smith also was a part of McKendree’s 2016 national championship, while both title-winning squads included William Goodman, who is part of The Bowlers Shoppe 1 team of St. Louis, currently sitting atop the Regular Team standings at the 2021 Open Championships.
The 2018 McKendree team also included Thorsten Przychocki of Sebring, Florida, who claimed the inaugural Standard Singles title at the 2017 Open Championships.
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