By Bob Balgemann


Harlem and Hononegah bowlers spent much of July at Indianapolis, Ind. competing in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Junior Gold and Youth Open.

Harlem and Hononegah bowlers are keeping busy this summer, spending much of July at Indianapolis, Ind. competing in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Junior Gold and Youth Open. 

Junior Gold is a scholarship tournament with male and female bowlers also vying for a spot on Junior Team USA. In that, they compete over 4-6 days on four different sport patterns. Divisions are divided by age starting at Under 10 and ending at Under 20. 

The Youth Open is another scholarship tournament, which has team, singles and doubles events in the same age divisions as Junior Gold. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those tournaments were cancelled last year, bringing disappointment to Harlem and Hononegah bowlers. So when Harlem Middle School Coach Kelly Nimitz had an opportunity arise this year, she ran with it. Here’s how it happened. 

Coach Nimtz knew a fellow youth coordinator from the East Coast, Leslie Bohn, had room in her massive block of more than 60 for the Youth Open, she messaged her about allowing the local 815 Youth Bowlers to compete in the same block with all of her bowlers. Bohn replied, “Heck, yeah.” And so Nimtz went to work finding bowlers to participate and within three days had six teams committed to bowl. 

One of the perks is each participant will receive a personalized jersey to compete in the team event.  

“Our kids have missed out on so much with no IESA (Illinois Elementary School Association); many tournaments were cancelled including both of these tournaments last year,” said Nimtz, who also is youth director for the Rockford Area USBC Association Board. 

She said she was excited to be going to Indianapolis to watch her bowlers, having last done that in 2018 when her son, Jacob, competed for the final time and finished 23rd out of 1,735 in the U-20 division for boys. He is a Harlem graduate, former Harlem bowler and an IHSA state champion, who just completed four years of competition at McKendree University in Lebanon.

Here are the Harlem and Hononegah bowlers who are competing in both tournaments: 

HARLEM, Jermarrion Simmons, Ryen Apgar, Colton Kilbreath, Ashlin Teves, Riley Gibert.

HONONEGAH, Cameron Tyler, James Stewart, Connor Mooney, Christian Bauer, Logan Moore, Charlie Hunt, Madison Davenport, Cassidy Davenport and Kyley Olson. 

Here are Junior Gold competitors: 

HARLEM, Alex Cleaveland, Braden Schuld, Eric Roberts, Jeremy Martinez, Madison Woodman, Paige Carpenter, Brayland Carpenter, Devin Titus, Dake Titus and Allison Roberts. 

HONONEGAH, Justin Mooney, Jack Reed, Andrew Riley, Emily Riley and Abby Topham. 

Those competing only in the Youth Open are: 

HARLEM, Justin Henrey, Masen Evans, Naomi Kernica, Miranda Klenz, Hannah Herdklotz, Kaylynn Coffee. 

AREA BOWLERS, Lennon Kilbreath, Abby Lawson, Dominic Matts, Ben Dahle, Devin Skridla, Zach Joiner, Alysa Conley, Samantha Meyers and Rebecca Meyers. 

The tournaments are running through July 31 at six different bowling centers in Indianapolis. 

Coach Nimtz said she was super excited for the youth bowlers competing in those tournaments. “Not only does our (Harlem) middle school bowling look exciting for the future, but also the high school and local Rock Valley College bowling programs.” 

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