Yukon juniors strike wins at bowling nationals

Yukon's junior bowlers were far from the top of the standings following the Youth Bowling Canada 2013 National Championships in Surrey, B.C. over the weekend.

Yukon’s junior bowlers were far from the top of the standings following the Youth Bowling Canada 2013 National Championships in Surrey, B.C. over the weekend.

However, the five Whitehorse bowlers competing in five-pin singles each cranked out wins and meaningful accomplishments.

“There was a very consistent number of wins from the whole team,” said Yukon head coach Kevin Murphy. “On the first day, the first two games the Yukoners bowled, it was all the rookies who won their first two games.”

“I was pleased with the fact that all managed to win games (and) Chris (Thompson) with his really high games. Akshay (Malhotra) was a really pleasing surprise for his first appearance out there. It shows that he’s got what it takes. He was very easy to coach … There were a lot of games where he was in contention.”

Malhotra, who was Yukon’s junior boy at the championship, topped the team with seven wins.

He finished his 24 games with a 180.88 average to finish 12th out of 13 bowlers, placing a spot ahead of N.W.T.‘s Aaron Hardy.

He also broke 200 four times, including a 273.

Seven wins is usually enough to place higher, said Murphy, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

“He had seven wins and was still second last,” said Murphy. “It was kind of odd to see that. Usually seven wins will move you up to sixth place.”

Malhotra finished his run spoiling the day for Newfoundland’s John McDonald. Malhotra beat McDonald to knock the Newfoundlander out of medal contention while in a three-way tie for third, pushing him into fifth.

Thompson, who was knocking pins in the senior boys division, racked up five wins en route to placing 12th as well. But he left with a rather large feather in his hat.

Thompson bowled a personal best of 295 to defeat Saskatchewan’s Zach Grainger, the division’s eventual gold medal winner.

He bowled four games over 200, including another high score of 289, to finish with a 181.67 average in what was his second trip to nationals.

“Quite often he was hot, and sometimes he was not,” said Murphy. “When he had some big games, oh man, were they big.”

Yukon’s bantam girl, Tianna Collon, claimed five wins to finish 11th out of 13 for her team’s best placement.

She topped out with a score of 192 to finish with an average of 141.79.

“She bowled extremely well,” said Murphy. “She was probably the one bowler who was the most pins over her average in Whitehorse.”

Team veteran Cassandra Ponsioen, who broke into the top-10 the last two nationals, was hindered by injury and slipped to 12th in the senior girls division.

“I’ll put it in hockey vernacular: she had a lower body injury,” said Murphy. “She had a problem with her slide leg, so we were constantly massaging her and putting a heat patch on her, trying to get her problem under control.

“It did bother her. She sucked it up enough to pull off five wins.”

Ponsioen, who finished seventh in the same division last year and ninth in junior girls in 2011, broke 200 three times to finish with an average of 180.04.

“She wasn’t hitting her high games like she usually does,” said Murphy. “We know she can bowl a lot better. She was definitely playing hurt.”

Like his teammates, Ulysse Girard kept N.W.T. at the bottom of the standings, placing 12th in front of Hay River’s Aaron Herbert in 13th.

Girard, who was competing in bantam boys, opened with his best score of 172, averaged 112.42, and won four games.

Like Malhotra, Girard spoiled a bowler’s shot at a medal with a win. Girard took Manitoba’s Colton Youzwa out of a tie for third in the final game, putting Youzwa in fifth.

“Good for him. He was kind of playing spoiler,” said Murphy.

The best finish by a Yukoner at the nationals came from Whitehorse’s Harrison Kwok in 2002. Kwok won 14 and tied one of 24 matches to win silver in the senior boys division.

Winning gold that year was a bowler by the name of Cole Bouchard from N.W.T.

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