For Moose Jaw Youth Bowl Canada competitor Calissta McCubbing, it was a matter of simply cleaning up a minor issue with her delivery. And now, the 10-year-old competitor is the Bantam Girls Singles provincial champion and off to represent Saskatchewan at the YBC national championships Apr. 3-5 in Calgary.
McCubbing was one of three local bowlers to win provincial titles this past weekend, as two-time defending champion and national bronze medalist Cassia Montgomery took top spot in the Junior Girls division and Jackson Leroy won his first provincial singles title since 2012 in the Senior Boys class.
For McCubbing, it’ll mark her second trip to nationals after winning the provincial title in Bantam Girls Doubles last season. She had to go through a bit of a battle to earn her spot, as she trailed Regina’s Hailey Bereti by seven points through two games. A 216 in her third-round contest put her in the lead for good, though, and McCubbing would go on to defeat Bereti by 68 points.
The key to all was making a change to her throws to keep from pulling the ball.
“Usually when I bowl, I’ll throw my ball and twist my hips and the the ball would go to the side,” McCubbing said. “But I tried to fix that and really tried my best.”
While she saw what a national tournament was all about last year, going as a single has McCubbing taking a pragmatic approach this time around.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a difference,” she said. “I just want to try my best and have fun and if I don’t win, I don’t win.”
Experience won’t be a problem for Leroy.
The 2020 nationals will mark his fifth trip to the tournament, with three of those coming in the Team event. Singles is a different animal, though, something he found even this past weekend.
“It went really good, I surprised myself because I was going up against some really stiff competition and I played above my expectations,” Leroy said. “I was really striving for it. It was an accomplishment and a goal to go to nationals.”
The 17-year-old veteran didn’t waste much time getting things going. Leroy rolled a 252 in his first game and immediately had a 55-point lead over Regina’s Riley Hayden. Hayden would make things interesting with a 303 in the third game, but Leroy would hang on for a 1281 total and a 21-point win.
“Usually in tournaments I do really good, but in league I’m not the greatest because I don’t take it as serious,” Leroy said. “I do better under pressure than no pressure at all, so that worked out this weekend.”
Having a chance to take to the lanes as the master of his own destiny is something he’s looking forward to.
“I think it’s going to be a good time meeting new people and seeing other people bowl,” Leroy said. “Some are the same as me, some have really different approaches to everything, and it’s going to be a fun environment to be in with all the great bowlers and stuff.”
For Montgomery, the win was all but anti-climactic. She took a 40-point lead in her opening game and just kept increasing her edge through the event, with a 259 in the third match essentially locking up the title. A 170 in the fifth and final round dropped Montgomery back to the pack a bit, but it was still enough for a 1113 total and a 66-point win.
“It feels pretty good,” Montgomery, 14, said. “This is going to be my third nationals, so I feel like just because I have more experience going into it it’s going to be a lot easier process because I know how the nerves feel and how it’s going to be. So I feel like it’s going to be a good run.”
With the aforementioned third-place showings at prior nationals, Montgomery has a singular focus this time around.
“I’m definitely going for gold,” she said confidently. “It’s great to get that medal, but I just want that little bit extra, so hopefully this time I’ll get what I want… I feel like I’ll definitely have to keep up with the aggression and not let my scores get to me, play more with my head and strategically than the other girls.”