By WIlliam Midkiff
During the first full week of the new year, four bowlers on the Louisiana Tech women’s bowling team traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete in a five-day-long tournament in hopes of making the 2022 Junior Team USA.
The United States Bowling Conference USA Team Trials, an annual bowling tournament, is held to recruit new bowlers onto one of two national teams – Team USA or Junior Team USA, which is for bowlers 20 years old or younger. These two teams represent the country in international tournaments, so team spots are reserved for only the most elite bowlers in the United States.
According to head coach Matt Nantais, all of the Tech students who traveled to Las Vegas to participate in the USA Team Trials did very well. One student, Danielle Jedlicki, actually made the Junior USA Team, which was a great success for the entire Louisiana Tech team.
“Considering the talent level that’s at that competition? I mean you’re bowling against everyone at once to make Team USA. So to have somebody make the team – that was our goal going out there,” Nantais said.
Jedlicki said she considers her success in the USA Team Trials to be a great highlight in her bowling career.
“Making Junior Team USA means a lot to me–it’s a huge accomplishment. I’m very thankful to be given this opportunity,” Jedlicki said.
This doesn’t mean that she wasn’t nervous for the USA Team Trials, however. With the COVID-19 pandemic making bowling tournaments more scarce over the past year and a half, competitive bowlers like Jedlicki have had fewer opportunities to compete.
“I made myself go even though I was worried how I would perform,” Jedlicki said. “The only tournaments I had performed in since 2019 were college tournaments. I figured, ‘How can I grow as a person if I didn’t make myself do things I wasn’t too comfortable with?’ Thankfully, when I got there, the nerves were gone and I just bowled.
“Team Trials is always a fun and long tournament to participate in. It not only tests your physical game, but it also tests your mental game – mental game is huge in bowling.”
No bowlers on the Louisiana Tech team are required to participate in the USA Team Trials. According to Nantais, preparation for this tournament is a lot like preparation for any level of competitive bowling.
“It’s just basically a lot of spare shooting practice,” Nantais said. “Because obviously strikes are nice, but if you don’t make your spares, you can’t win anything.”
Nantais also uses the USA Team Trials as an opportunity to recruit young talent for the Louisiana Tech team, which is already a star-studded group. Multiple bowlers on the team, such as Jedlicki and Patricia Rosales, have individually won national championships, and Allie Leiendecker has won several.
Nantais believes that the Louisiana Tech team could win multiple national championships this year. “I think we got a good chance to do it,” Nantais said. “Our team is really strong; our chemistry is really good. It seems like all the pieces are in place right now.”
As for the Junior Team USA, they’ll be competing in one international competition this year. The team will be taking four of the 18 girls to this competition.
“I think Danielle [Jedlicki] has a great chance to go,” Nantais said.
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