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Florida's Coffey, New York's Skalacki Take Teen Masters Titles

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Michael Coffey of Melbourne, Fla., and Kelly Skalacki of Coram, N.Y., captured the boys’ and girls titles in the Teen Masters Grand Championships at Sawgrass Lanes Saturday, earning $7,500 scholarships.

Coffey and Skalacki also earned berths in the boy vs. girl Teen Masters Grand Championship match to be conducted as part of the Professional Bowlers Association’s Champion’s Challenge telecast on ESPN later in the year as part of PBA World Series of Bowling VI at South Point in Las Vegas. Coffey, 19, finished with an 11-6-1 match play record and averaged 220.29 for his 42 games to run away with the boys title. His 9,597 pinfall total, including bonus pins for matches won, was 553 pins better than runner-up John Gallagher of Stuart, Fla., who posted a 12-6 match play record and averaged 206.76 on the demanding PBA-caliber lane conditions. Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, Calif., finished third with 8,857 pins followed by Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn., at 8,838 and Brandon Knowles of Westminster, Colo., at 8,800.

“My secret was I practiced and prepared a lot,” the recent Eau Gallie High School graduate said.

After a disappointing performance in the 2013 Teen Masters when he bowled as a member of Junior Team USA, Coffey said he was determined to do better this time around.

“I practiced with the two (Teen Masters) balls all year long,” he said. “I worked on my grip, throwing at any speed I needed, different hand positions, different angles on the lane. I knew I could do basically anything I wanted. I just had to stay calm and make good shots.

“I only used the urethane ball in the tournament. I couldn’t get the plastic ball to work the way I wanted, but I was very surprised I led by that much because there were some pretty good bowlers here.” Coffey said he will use his scholarship money to attend Lindenwood University in St. Louis in the fall.

Skalacki also dominated. She won 13 of her 18 matches and averaged 195.81 for an 8,614 pinfall total to win her division over two-time girls’ Teen Masters winner Ashley Dunn of Palmdale, Calif. Dunn also had a 13-5 match play record and averaged 187.79, finishing 337 pins behind Skalacki. Jessica Mellott of Lauderhill, Fla., finished third with 8,184 pins followed by Hannah Brookins of Ocala, Fla., with an 8,058 total and Caitlyn Johnson of Beaumont, Texas, with 7,997 pins. The U14 Division winners, for players ages 14 and under, were Jorge Rodriguez of Puerto Rico and Jenna Williams of Homosassa, Fla. Results were based on qualifying scores, not totals including match play.

The Teen Masters, created in 1997 by Killer B Promotions founder Gary Beck as an elite challenge for high school age boys and girls, drew a field of 186 boys and 91 girls to Fort Lauderdale. All competition was conducted on PBA-caliber short- and long-oil lane conditions, and all players were allowed to use only PBA Skill Balls 2.0 and 3.0, maintaining the Teen Masters’ focus on player skills rather than equipment.

Teen Masters champions who have gone on to become PBA Tour titlists include Mike Fagan (1997), Jason Sterner (2003), RyanCiminelli (2004), and Jake Peters (2006).

Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling News Magazine.