This past weekend four Yukon youths had time to spare—and strike.
Competing in the Youth Bowling Canada Championships in Toronto, two girls and two boys from the territory each brought home at least one win and experience to pull on in the future.
Bowling in his third national championships, senior boys representative Matthew Mendham-Rudniski, 15, won six of 24 games to place 11th out of a field of 13.
“He’s been there twice before so he’s used to the type of competition that it is,” said Yukon coach Kevin Murphy.
Mendham-Rudniski also had three close losses that would have moved him up in the standing had he won.
He may have pulled out the wins had he more experience playing in the clutch, said Murphy.
“It all boils down to not having enough match-play or tournament-play,” he said. “You could see that some of his competitors had an edge in their mental toughness; they know how to deliver the winning shot under pressure.”
Even getting to the nationals required less competitive play from the Yukon players, who only had to qualify out of their house (i.e. bowling alley). Other bowlers, from more populated areas, had to qualify out of their house, their region and then their province.
“That’s three levels of pressure training to get to the top,” said Murphy. “That’s a hard thing to duplicate.”
Senior girls bowler Nicole Thompson, 16, also finished in 11th—tied with another—winning three of 24 games.
It was her fourth time competing at the national level, but that only does so much to cushion a couple disheartening losses
“One of her games she won by one point, but prior to that she had lost a game by six points when she basically had victory in her grasp,” said Murphy. “There was another that she lost by a margin of about 11 points.
“Those are tough when you’re bowling OK and you’re doing the right things, but you just don’t deliver when it counts at the end of the game. It was hard for her to recover from that.”
Cassandra Ponsioen, 13, competing in the junior girls division, took a win and a tie in 24 games, tying for 11th with a competitor from NWT.
Not only was Ponsioen competing in her first national championship, she only started bowling in the last year.
Remarkably, she produced the highest score of all the athletes representing the territory, bowling a 248.
Unfortunately, the high score—a personal best—was not enough to collect a win in that particular game.
“She lost it by three-points—the other player had a 251,” said Murphy. “She took it very well. She was enjoying the experience and if she gets out to this level of competition I’d expect her to do a lot better.”
Junior boys competitor Gavin Young, 12, tied for last with one win. Still, he carried himself like a champion, according to Murphy.
“Gavin was totally unfazed,” said Murphy. “He enjoyed himself. It didn’t matter to him that all these other bowlers were putting up scores he hadn’t done before.
“He listened quite well and made some real improvements to his game. His high game was a 203.”
Besides gaining experience playing in pressure situations, Murphy feels witnessing other youth bowlers playing well or remaining mentally tough when the pressure’s on raises the Yukoners’ games.
“It’s amazing what happens when the kids get out here and there’s other kids their age, and they watch them and can see how well they play and how they don’t give up on any shot,” said Murphy. “They look at the scores and go, ‘That kid is the same age as me and she got a 270.’ And they feel if the other fellow can do it so can I.”
The end of the season is always a good time to look towards the next. However, youth bowling organizers in Whitehorse have more on their plate than usual.
After 10 years acting as program director and a coach for the Whitehorse Youth Bowling League, Wayne Beauchemin has decided to step down from the position.
“The concern is if the program will continue to run and will we have kids wanting to participate,” said Murphy. “We’d be interested in hearing from anybody wanting to step forward and help out.
“He’s been such an integral driving force behind the program it would be nice to see it continue with other parents in the fall.”
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