Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

July 12, 2014

Local youth bowls his way to New York

Dakota Starling, 12, will be traveling to Buffalo, N.Y., this week to participate in the weeklong North Pointe Junior Gold Championship tournament.

There are more thabn 5,000 Junior Gold Members from across the United States with more than 2,500 bowling for the championship and scholarship money. Starling is participating in the first year the U12 Division will be included in the tournament.

As of now, ages for Junior Gold members range from 9 to 20, with more than $300,000 in scholarship money earned by the winners of the week long tournament. Registration begins today, with finals being bowled the following Friday.

The tournament utilizes six bowling centers in the Buffalo area. This tournament  allows the U15 division to earn spots on the developmental Junior Team USA and the U20 division winners earn automatic spots on the Junior Team USA.

Each state sponsors qualifying tournaments throughout the year. Starling qualified to bowl in the tournament by winning the Georgia Pepsi Tournament. To reach the Pepsi Tournament he had to qualify through the local youth bowling league.  

The number selected from each bowling center is based on the total number of youth bowlers in the respective age division.

In April, Starling bowled in the first round of the tournament making the cut to return two weeks later to bowl in the finals. He went into the final day in seventh place, but after three games, the cut was made to the final five bowlers with Starling holding fourth.

The final five were required to bowl step ladder format to determine the winner.

Finishing fourth, Starling bowled the fifth-place bowler and advanced to the third-place finisher, then second before defeating the first-place finisher by 12 pins to earn the No. 1 spot in Junior Gold, thanks to the Ga. USBC Youth Division for posting his entree fee,

Starling earned scholarship money with the first place finish. All scholarship winnings are placed on a Smart Card and the individual receives the card when they graduate from high school.    

 Now, Starling can be found practicing everyday at either at Jac’s Lanes, Moody Air Force Base. Occasionally, Starling even travels up to Robins AFB once a week with his grandmother to practice on a different set of lanes in preparing for his trip to New York.

Jac’s Lanes, Moody AFB, and Robins AFB help young bowlers prepare for their trip to New York by putting out the three different oil patterns used at Junior Gold.

Jac’s Lanes always provides great support to the youth bowlers, including providing Starling bowling shirts for his Junior Gold tournament. The Langdale Company is also a sponsor for the trip.

Starling started bowling when he was 3 and started league bowling at 5. Throughout the years he has won numerous bowling awards, including local and state.  

Starling and his doubles partner won the local USBC Youth City Doubles event three consecutive years; he won a silver medal in the Georgia games and continued his winning streak to add Georgia State USBC Youth Awards four straight years.

At the age of 8, Starling finished first in high average, game, and series. After, he then moved to the prep division (9-12 year olds), winning again in high average.  

In 2012, Starling won for high average and high game and a year later he again had high average and high series.

This year, Starling was submitted for the state award for high game, high series, and high average. The winner of the state awards will be announced at the USBC Youth Association Jamboree the end of July.

Last year Starling tried out for the Georgia Interstate All-Star Team. He ended the tryout session with a 194 average for the day after bowling six games to earn his spot as one of the youngest bowlers on the team.  

Individuals are selected on talent, sportsmanship, courtesy, attitude, being a team player and the ability to be coached. On Sundays, Starling was up and on the road to Loganville  by 5:30 a.m. in order to be on time for his 10 a.m. practice.  

The Georgia All-Stars bowls against teams from North Carolina and South Carolina with each state hosting a tournament. This year Starling will return from New York in time to make the try out for the All Star Team on July 20th.

Starling is one of only four youth bowlers from Valdosta to ever bowl on the All-Star team, while one of the previous four, Courtney Gaskins, is headed towards a bowling scholarship.

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