PRINCESS ANNE — University of Maryland Eastern Shore junior Brooke Roberts (Port Orange, Florida) added a few more accolades to an already extensive bowling resume on Friday (July 9) claiming the U20 bracket at 2021 Junior Gold Championship. And, by virtue of making the finals, she also grabbed a spot on Junior Team U.S.A.
“Honestly, it hasn’t hit me yet,” Roberts said. “My phone has been blowing up, so there is that. It was very overwhelming more than exciting. I’m still overwhelmed right now. It probably won’t hit me that I actually did it for a while.”
The 2018-19 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year and Second-Team All-MEAC performer advanced through double-elimination bracket play without a loss.
“I personally felt like I was bowing well after qualifying,” Roberts said. “I was pretty confident going into today. I had a really good line coming into today on the pattern that we had. I had more confidence than I did doubt. Staying in the winner’s bracket last night and winning a match by a pin helped me a lot with the confidence.”
She won her first match Thursday (July 8) night against Mount Mercy’s Brynna Madison (439-386) and then escaped a vicious battle with Jenna Williams — also of Mount Mercy — by a 387-386 score.
“(Against Williams) I was just trying to keep the ball in play and stay in the moment and try and get the ball out where I needed it to be,” Roberts said. “It’s actually harder to think about the future than to stay in the moment because you can get overwhelmed with yourself. You just want to take one shot at a time and make sure you make that spare or a good strike. You don’t want to worry about the past that is behind you or the future.”
On Friday morning, her opening opponent was 2017 Junior Gold U17 champion Caroline Thesier of Vanderbilt. Roberts grabbed a 439-392 win sending Thesier to the elimination bracket and advancing to the winner’s bracket final against Morgan Nunn of Indiana Tech.
A 424-297 victory sent the rising junior into the stepladder finals with momentum where she would await the winner of Nunn’s matchup with defending U20 champion Patricia Rosales of Prairie View A&M. Nunn picked up a 190-175 victory setting up a rematch in the final.
“The final was definitely a little rough especially on the left lane,” Roberts said. “I was either pulling it or the ball was too much and I kept trying to move left and it kept going through the nose. On the right lane I had a pretty good look, so I just stayed there and tried to keep the ball in play and not leave anything bad.”
A 188-140 victory gave Roberts the title.
She arrived to The Shore with pretty extensive tournament experience at the state and national high school level as well as competing in more national events over the last few years. She said that experience helped her in the final.
“I didn’t really feel pressure,” Roberts said. “I actually tend to do a little good when I’m under pressure just because I have bowled in so many pressure situations. I can tell you that my heart definitely was racing throughout match play. I just had to take deep breaths and stay in the moment.”
The top four players after qualifying grabbed spots on Junior Team USA with two more spots going to the players who made the step ladder final. After toppling Rosales to make the final, Roberts became just the second Hawks bowler to make a U.S. National team. Cayla Hicks also made Junior Team USA during her junior year (2018-19).
“That was my main goal coming into this tournament — to make the team,” Roberts said. “The win on top of that I knew would just make it better and it did.”
Roberts, who is looking forward to getting back on the lanes with her teammates, has three years of eligibility remaining, but is a junior academically after the Hawks opted out of all athletics during the 2020-21 season because of the COVID 19 Pandemic.
The 2021-22 college bowling season will begin in October.
— Shawn Yonker is assistant athletic director for Marketing and Media Relations at UMES.