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Four Junior Team USA members are headed to the 2019 World Bowling Junior Championships

Four Junior Team USA members are headed to the 2019 World Bowling Junior Championships

ARLINGTON, Texas – Mabel Cummins of Elburn, Illinois, has been planning to celebrate her high school graduation with a trip to France with her mother.

When that trip takes place, she’ll already know the best places to visit and where to find the tastiest food – information she’ll be able to gather this week when she represents Junior Team USA at the inaugural World Bowling Junior Championships.

Cummins will be joined on the lanes by Kamerin Peters of Toms River, New Jersey; Anthony Neuer of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and Solomon Salama of Beverly Hills, California.

The first edition of the World Junior Championships will kick off Monday with an opening ceremony, and competition will take place Tuesday through Saturday.

More than 100 bowlers representing 35 countries will be in attendance at Plaza Saint Maximin in Saint Maximin, France, where they will compete in four disciplines – singles, doubles, mixed team and Masters. Medals also will be awarded for all-events.

At about two weeks shy of 17, Cummins is the eldest member of the group and the most experienced against the best young players in the world, having participated in the 2018 World Bowling Youth Championships in the Detroit area.

She’ll put that experience to good use as she leads the Junior Team USA quartet onto the lanes against the world’s best bowlers age 13-18.

“The (Lee Evans) Tournament of the Americas was my first experience bowling as a member of our national team, and that’s when I learned it’s not about me, but rather about ‘us,’ and I’ve worked hard since then to become better at being a team leader and influencing team performance,” said Cummins, who earned five gold medals and one silver medal at the Tournament of the Americas in 2017. “I’ve also matured a great deal over the past two years as a Junior Team USA member.

“I know my role and responsibilities as an ambassador for the sport and representative of America, and I’m confident in my ability to execute in elite-level competition.”

On-the-lanes leadership won’t be Cummins‘ only responsibility while they’re in France, though. She’ll also put on her ambassador hat and work to build relationships with bowlers from other countries, while also testing her years of studying French in school to help the team navigate its way around town.

The bowling center is about 40 miles outside of Paris, and time generally is built into the schedule for the week to allow the bowlers, coaches and supporters to enjoy the host country as much as the competition itself.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the romance languages, and I really want to see the incredible art and architecture of France, so I decided to learn French and visit Paris with my mom as a high school graduation trip,” said Cummins, who was named Youth Ambassador of the Year in 2017. “Now, I get to go with my friends on Junior Team USA. Also, I like French because it’s all around us in American culture and that makes the learning a bit easier. I can read it, and write a little, but I’m a long way from speaking French like a native. I’m just hoping they can understand me when I try to order lunch.”

All qualifying rounds and semifinals at the World Junior Championships will be held at Plaza Saint Maximin and livestreamed by World Bowling, but the championship matches will be contested on a special two-lane installation inside the Institut du Judo in the center of Paris, allowing for a more elaborate TV setting.

A final twist will be the use of the new Current Frame Scoring system, which has been used in previous World Bowling Tour events, the Asian Bowling Federation Tour Finals and the Asian Games.

In the Current Frame Scoring system, a strike counts for 30 pins, a spare counts for 10, plus the first-ball count and an open frame counts for actual pins knocked down. The 10th frame counts the same as all other frames.

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of this special first-time event and to have the chance to compete in a place with such a rich history and amazing culture,” Junior Team USA head coach Bryan O’Keefe said. “We know it will be a memorable experience for all the players, and we hope to enhance those memories by bowling well and coming home with as many medals as we can.”

Neuer and Salama also have past experience at the Tournament of the Americas, but none of the four Junior Team USA members have competed outside of the United States.

Cummins now is a few months removed from helping the Junior Team USA girls to a team gold medal at the World Youth Championships, but the feelings she felt on the medal stand are easy to recollect. She was joined on the podium by Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina; Caitlyn Johnson of Rockwell, North Carolina; and Taylor Bailey of Joliet, Illinois.

“It was a very exciting experience, but it was also very humbling, as I was surrounded by some truly outstanding bowlers,” Cummins said. “The thing I remember most is being so proud of how my teammates and I came together to win the final match. Together, we really represented the best aspects of Junior Team USA.”

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