If Moose Jaw Youth Bowling Canada competitors Brekkin Hill and Hunter Anderson need any kind of advice heading into their first national championship, they don’t have to look very far to find someone with more experience than pretty much anyone else in the province.
As in, maybe a lane or two over at the South Hill Bowling Lanes.
The Bantam Boys duo will be joined by perennial YBC nationals competitor Jackson Leroy in his final Senior Boys appearance at the event when things kick off on July 10 in Oshawa, Ont.
For Leroy, 20, it’ll mark the end of a long journey through the YBC ranks as he makes his sixth appearance at the national tournament -- and this time, it’s all about landing that first medal.
“I think the closest I’ve been is fifth place, so I’ve been close,” Leroy said during a media gathering at the local lanes Saturday afternoon. “Basically, it’s a mental game, if I’m in a battle I can’t get down on myself, I just have to stay positive even if things are going bad. So I just have to stay on my A-game and be focused no matter what happens.”
Leroy was certainly able to do just that at provincials back in early December. After falling behind early to eventual runner-up Nathan Raukman from Saskatoon Eastview, Leroy found his stride in Game 4, rolling a 329 for the second-highest score of the tournament. That round also gave him the lead, and he was able to roll a 234 to Rauckman’s 253 in the final game to win 1336 to 1311.
The key will be able to put together a similar performance in Oshawa and ideally end up in the top three for the first time in his career.
“I don’t how I’d react,” Leroy said with a grin. “I’d be extremely proud of myself because I know I can do it. It depends on the weekend, if I’m having a good weekend who knows what can happen.”
Things weren’t nearly as close for Hill, 10, and Anderson, 9, in their provincial run, as they’d claim their Bantam Boys title by nearly 200 points with a four-game total of 1343 compared to the 1174 put together by Regina’s Spencer McCullough and Oliver Wilcox.
They wasted little time getting things going, too, taking a huge lead right off the bat when Hill rolled a 194 and Anderson a scintillating 246 in Game 1. It was just a matter of keeping things cool, calm and collected from there and -- most importantly -- not thinking they had things in the bag, even if they did.
“We were kind of starting to get too relaxed and then you try to bowl too hard and the ball doesn’t cooperate with you,” Hill said. “So you just have to bowl like your on a lane with your friends, that usually works.”
Anderson was impressed with how they were able to hold off the Regina duo, even though McCullough rolled a tournament-high 701 for his four-game total. Hill finished with a 674, Anderson at 669.
“He had a really good game, he was tough to beat but we were able to do it,” Anderson said.
Now, it’s off to NEB’s Fun World in Oshawa in a couple months' time, and a weekend of fun and games even beyond the bowling -- the facility not only features more than 50 lanes, it includes a full-on amusement park and arcade right inside the building.
“It feels good to go, it’s my first time going and I’ve never been to something like that, it’ll be new,” Anderson said. “I think it’ll be fun, there’s so much to do like bumper cars and arcades and things like that.”
Hill naturally feels much the same way.
“I’m nervous, happy, and I can’t wait,” he said. “There will be so much to do and it’s going to be so much fun.”
As for the competition itself, the goal is naturally to medal, especially if they can get quickly acclimated to the whole Nationals experience.
“It would be awesome, we want first or second and it would be really cool if we could do it,” Hill said before revealing his secret weapon. “It’ll take a lot of concentration, but I’ll chew gum, that always helps me with that.”
Anderson hopes dealing with what promises to be a huge number of elite bowlers and thousands of spectators won’t be too much of a distraction.
“My goal is just to have some fun and maybe get a medal,” he said. “It’s going to be kind of weird because I haven’t played with that many people around before. I’ll just try my best to stay calm and bowl as well as I can.”
The Hill family is holding a special fundraiser for Nationals on Saturday, May 21 with a day of fun at Artisangrounds. The event will feature an afternoon of art, music, games, prizes, food and raffle baskets while creating your own pottery wall art.
The cost is $50 per person, with three sessions through the day at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. For more information or to register, send a message to email@example.com or call (306) 630-9963.