Over 4,500 of the best bowlers in the country are in West Michigan.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Bowling has taken over Grand Rapids over the last few weeks for the 2022 Junior Gold Championships. The tournament is being played at eight different bowling centers through West and Central Michigan.
Around 4,500 of the best youth bowlers in the country have made the trek to Michigan to compete with each other — 315 of the bowlers are from the Mitten State.
The competition is fierce, but it also prepares the youth bowlers for college bowling. It’s estimated the event will award over $500,000 in scholarship money to participants while raising over $7 million in revenue for the city.
Greater Grand Rapids Bowling Association president Ronald King is very pleased with the turn out.
“It’s a fun time all across the city,” King said. “It’s been a great event. We’ve had professional bowlers come in. We’ve had bowlers from all across the country and Puerto Rico here bowling. To have them all coming in to Grand Rapids for this tournament, it’s been a good sight to see.”
On top of the 2022 Junior Gold Championships, there are also side tournaments taking place at local bowling alleys.
On Wednesday at Northfield Lanes, there was an Adult/Youth Bakers doubles tournament taking place. A Baker’s tournament is when an adult and a youth bowler are partnered and take their turns in their respective lanes.
Some junior bowlers are actually paired with professional bowlers who are in town.
Jenison High School graduate Alexis Vanwuyckhuyse is partnered with pro bowler Dasha Kovalova in the Bakers tournament, and is grateful to be playing with and learning from one of the best bowlers in the world.
“It is so much fun bowling with Dasha,” Vanwuyckhuyse said. “It is kind of hard sometimes when you are out bowling in a center like this, where everyone knows who she is. There’s a line forming with her. But it’s just special that I have that special connection that not many other people have. We like to say we share a brain cell, and if you see us together, we really do. It’s one of the coolest things.”
Kovalova actually moved to Muskegon in 2020 right before the pandemic. She met Vanwuyckhuyse about a year ago, and is thrilled to team up with her friend.
“It’s fun,” Kovalova said. “It picks up the team spirit. I always like a team tournament, and if it’s a team win, it’s even better than an individual win. Plus it’s fun to have her around. I haven’t seen Lexi in a while so it’s exciting. “
The Bakers tournament concludes on Friday, but the Junior Gold Championships end on July 23.
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