March 24, 2007 19:00
With bright lights, ESPN television cameras and the pressure of bowling for thousands of dollars in scholarships, two players emerged as champions Sunday of the inaugural Denny's All-American High School Championships.
Ellen Morrison of Winnebago, Ill., and Jonathan Buckert of Rochester, N.Y., each earned $3,000 scholarships by defeating their opponents at DeVos Place. Morrison won her match 210-190 over Kayla Stamm of Shillington, Pa., while Buckert defeated Christopher David Ray of Granite City, Ill., 213-170.
The event, which was conducted in an arena-setting on the same lanes as the Denny's Professional Bowlers Association World Championship earlier in the day, is scheduled to be televised on ESPN on April 22 at 1 p.m.
Buckert, the 2007 USBC Chuck Hall Star of Tomorrow, struck seven times in the boys' championship match to earn the title.
"It was really hot with the lights and I was a little nervous, but it was fun," Buckert said. "This proves that all my hard work and effort has really paid off."
In the girls' championship match, Morrison, who has two Illinois individual state high school titles to her credit, threw a strike on the first ball in the final frame to lock up the victory.
"This has been really cool and I think it's amazing that kids are being given the opportunity to experience an event like this," Morrison said.
"I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous than I really was, but once I got out there and started making shots I calmed down."
To wrap up Sunday's finals, Morrison and Buckert teamed up with a couple of PBA stars in a doubles showdown. Morrison and Kelly Kulick defeated Buckert and Tony Reyes 256-233.
The Denny's All-American High School Championships showcased 29 varsity high school athletes from 15 states. All players competed in eight games of qualifying Saturday morning before the field was cut to the top six boys and top six girls, who competed in match play to determine the four players on the TV finals.
For their second-place efforts, Ray and Stamm each received a $2,000 scholarship, bringing the total awarded at the event to $10,000.
Denny's, the PBA and the United States Bowling Congress joined together to create the new tournament for recognized varsity level high school bowlers. The 29 participants were selected based on their bowling skills as well as personal and academic achievements.
DENNY'S ALL-AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIPS
At DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Jonathan Buckert, Rochester, N.Y., def. Christopher David Ray, Granite City, Ill., 213-170
Ellen Morrison, Winnebago, Ill., def. Kayla Stamm, Shillington, Pa., 210-190
Morrison and Kelly Kulick def. Buckert and Tony Reyes, 256-233
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