Junior Team USA looks to heat up in Orlando at the 2008 WTBA World Youth Championships


    United States

    2008WYCBoysTeamUSA.jpg Junior Team USA's Matt O'Grady still has a bitter taste in his mouth. The South Amboy, N.J., native has had it ever since leaving Berlin, Germany, and the 2006 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Youth Championships without any medals.

    With the days dwindling before the 2008 WTBA World Youth Championships begin in Orlando, Fla., O'Grady - the lone holdover from the Berlin squad - is ready to make amends.

    Junior Team USA boys headed to World Youth Championships (clockwise from top left): Matt O'Grady, Dean Richards, John Szczerbinski and Adam Martinez.

    "That's going to be the fuel for our fire," said O'Grady, who nearly took the doubles bronze medal with P.J. Haggerty in 2006 - finishing fourth. "Everything I trained for is all about this event. You can't put a price on this tournament ... representing your country is a completely different level."

    2008WYCLogo2_small.jpg The 2008 WTBA World Youth Championships, scheduled for July 19-24 at Boardwalk Bowl, will feature nearly 350 elite youth bowlers representing 58 countries - an increase from the 48 that competed in 2006 and 29 that were represented in 2004. The biennial U-22 tournament consists of five disciplines (singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters).

    O'Grady leads the boys team that features first-time Junior Team USA members John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, N.Y., Dean Richards of Tacoma, Wash., and Adam Martinez of San Antonio, the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur boys champion.

    2008WYCGirlsTeamUSA.jpg Two Florida natives - the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur girls champion Jenny Brown of DeLand and Michelle Carcagente of Palm Coast - join Emily Maier of Sparks, Nev., and Ricki Williams of Wichita, Kan., as Junior Team USA's girls representatives.

    "Getting to bowl at my home center for my country is going to be awesome," said Carcagente, who competed for the University of Central Florida women's bowling team that practices at Boardwalk Bowl. "Being able to tell my teammates some of the characteristics of the center and how the lanes might play beforehand could help us out a little bit."

    Junior Team USA girls headed to World Youth Championships (clockwise from top left): Emily Maier, Ricki Williams, Michelle Carcagente and Jenny Brown.

    In 2006, Junior Team USA came home with only two medals - both bronzes earned by Stefanie Nation - as the team struggled to adapt to the lane conditions and the abnormally sweltering heat in Berlin. The relatively inexperienced, yet talented, squad this time around is aiming for more in 2008.

    O'Grady and Maier, who won girls doubles gold and girls team bronze medals at the 2006 American Zone Youth Championships in Mexico, are the only two Junior Team USA players who have experience in international competition.

    "Emily is going to be great for the girls' side, and hopefully I can offer some insight to the boys," said O'Grady, who won boys team gold and boys doubles silver medals at the 2006 American Zone Youth Championships. "The competition is going to be tough as players from around the world are really great. They are versatile and some have different styles of play."

    This is the first time the United States has hosted the World Youth Championships, which were first held in 1990, and the first major international bowling tournament held in the U.S. since the 1995 WTBA World Championships at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.

    The United States has earned 58 medals throughout World Youth Championships history (16 gold, 26 silver and 16 bronze). Past U.S. competitors at the event include notable Professional Bowlers Association stars Tommy Jones, Rhino Page, Robert Smith and Patrick Healey Jr. as well as Liz Johnson (2007 U.S. Women's Open champion), Lynda Barnes (2008 USBC Queens champion), Kelly Kulick (2007 USBC Queens champion), Shannon Pluhowsky (2006 USBC Queens champion) and Diandra Asbaty (multiple-time world champion).