Youth Talent Shines Bright at Kegel

By Matt Stevens
March 4, 2024

The Kegel Queensland Open, the premier event kicking off the 2024 TBA Open Division ranked events, concluded with an electrifying showdown that saw Justin Dinham clinch the title over Blake Walsh. This year’s event, over three thrilling days, held at the Caboolture Bowl, continued its tradition of excellence, drawing in a full capacity of 108 bowlers who travelled from all parts of Australia and New Zealand in their quest to win the coveted title.

The Champion? A 17-year-old from iPlay Tenpin City, Lidcombe, New South Wales.  A member of the 2024 Junior National Training Squad, Justin’s victory now makes him the youngest to ever win the popular Kegel QLD Open.

Qualifying

The competition began with Western Australia’s Craig Blachut, fresh from his selection into the Open National Training Squad, leading the pack with a top qualifying score of 2,676 across 12 games, averaging an impressive 223. Close on his heels was New Zealand’s Ben Pettit, trailing by just 8 pins, while Justin Dinham secured the third-highest qualifier spot.

As the event progressed to the top 32 and then to the top 16, Blachut expanded his lead, with Dinham and Blake Walsh moving into second and third positions, respectively. Despite a strong start, Blachut slid to 5th place in the top 16 phase, allowing Walsh to emerge as the first seed for the finals, followed by Dinham in second. Notably, the defending champion, Blayne Fletcher, was eliminated in the top 16 phase, finishing in 15th place.

A Finals Bracket Filled with Drama

The finals bracket, inspired by the Australian ‘footy finals’ McIntyre system, promised excitement with its cutthroat format. Designed to reward the top four bowlers from the previous stages, round 1 provided a notable match-up that has occurred many times over recent years in younger divisions.

New Zealand’s Ben Pettit faced off against Blake Walsh. With the Ballina Boy starting strongly with a 276-175 win, Pettit responded with persistence, winning the next two 224-189, 235-226 to advance to the preliminary finals.

Meanwhile, four-time event champion, Jarrod Langford, bested Justin Dinham in a two-game sweep 248-212 and 279-226, to become the other bowler to express to the preliminary finals.

Round 2 brings the pressure with all games from this point one game elimination. After defeating Craig Blachut in round 1, experienced campaigner Ashley Warren stepped up to face Blake Walsh yet eventually going down 256-214. While the other match saw Justin Dinham defeat Brandon Qualischefski 220-185.

The same top four at the end of the top 16 phase, now, was the same four ones left playing for the title and it did not disappoint. Justin Dinham would advance to the final narrowly defeating Ben Pettit 199-195, and Walsh overcome Langford in high-scoring dual 265-248.

This set the scene for a grand final between Dinham and Walsh, two young talents showing all that the youth is a force to be reckoned with in open division events in 2024.

The grand final was a testament to the skill and determination of both bowlers after both losing their first-round matchups and replying with vengeance to advance to the final.  Justin Dinham emerged victorious over Blake Walsh with a score of 236-216, becoming the youngest winner of this prestigious event and marking his first open division ranked event win. Walsh, despite a valiant effort, finished as the runner-up for the second time after finishing second to Jarrod Langford in 2021, showcasing his incredible consistent performance at the highest level.

A New Chapter in Bowling History

The 2024 Kegel Queensland Open will be remembered for its display of emerging talent, with young bowlers making significant impacts. Justin Dinham’s victory not only marks a milestone in his career but also signifies the arrival of a new generation ready to challenge the status quo in the bowling world. This event has set a high standard for the season, promising more excitement and competition in the future.

For fans and enthusiasts who wish to relive the grand final’s thrilling moments, a replay of the stream is available on Caboolture Bowl’s YouTube channel here.

  • 3rd Highest Qualifier
  • 2nd Place after Top 32
  • Received the Second Seed for the Finals
grade

HIGH GAME

290 Blake Walsh, Seth Gray, Nathanial Mason

The triumph of a junior bowler at the outset of 2024 has undoubtedly marked the arrival of youth in the competitive arena for the Open Division. This victory sets the stage for the next event in the open division, sparking curiosity about whether this emerging trend will continue. The anticipation is short-lived, as the Australian Tenpin Bowling Open is fast approaching. Scheduled from March 29-31, 2024, at Zone Bowling Frankston, Victoria, this event promises to showcase top talents alongside the Vic 150 women’s division inaugural event, offering a double dose of competitive excitement over Easter.

Before the spotlight shifts to the Australian Tenpin Bowling Open, the focus will now turn to the senior division. The John Sullivan Senior Australian Open is on the horizon, slated for March 16-17 at Wyncity Keon Park in Victoria. This event is not just a competition; it’s a celebration, coinciding with the 2024 Bowler Reunion Festivities. Participants and spectators alike can look forward to a weekend brimming with high-quality bowling and tributes to the sport’s legendary figures and memorable moments.

In addition to the competitive action, Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA) is excited to announce the publication of the first TBA Senior and TBA Grand Senior 2024 Rankings, following the Hammer Queensland Senior Classic. These rankings will be accessible on the TBA Senior and Grand Senior Rankings hub, providing insights into the top contenders of the season.

Furthermore, TBA will release the rankings for the Youth and Inclusion divisions, reflecting the outcomes of their first events of 2024. These rankings will be available on their respective hubs this week, showcasing the achievements of bowlers in these categories. TBA has implemented a new process for publishing rankings in 2024, aimed at enhancing accuracy and reducing the likelihood of errors and protests, ensuring that the focus remains on the exceptional talent and competition within the sport.

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