There was a mutual feeling of excitement this past weekend as the league schedule got underway, followed by a little preseason tournament action.

For starters, for the first time in my memory, it was the Saturday morning Youth League which kicked off the league season at Albemarle Lanes, and it failed to disappoint. With the promotion through aging-out of three of our top youth, Ben Hawkins, Christopher Vinson, and Lindsay Porter, as youth league director, I was concerned as to from where our top bowling would come from. That question was quickly answered.

Picking up right where they left off, Brandon Jackson and Bryce Hawkins opened the season with big games of 228 and 211 respectively. Bryce went on to add a 222 final game for a 602 series, while Brandon finished with a 217 effort and 598 final tally, his new personal high. New to the Albemarle Lanes program, Bob Miller added a 188-467.

On the young ladies’ side, Violet Olds’ 123-329 led all, followed by TJ Miller’s 127-321, Kaylee Winslow’s 126-318, and Elizabeth Scaff’s 132 top game.

The youth league consists of 6 teams with three members each and still has space for two bowlers to complete a couple of rosters. They will also see the return of their Bumper program this weekend for children ages 3-8. Anyone interested in either of these leagues, only needs to give me a call or come see me at Albemarle Lanes to secure these spots.

The league season will continue tonight when the Fellowship League, the biggest in the house, will return to action. All-American Ladies will open its 32-week season later this week, before Monday Night Mixed and Martin Luther King will be in full-roll by next week.

In preseason tournament action, 21 bowlers showed-up Saturday afternoon, for the Albemarle Lanes Strike Out Covid 19 No-Tap Invitational. In No-Tap bowling, bowlers are awarded strikes for any deliveries which produce a nine pin count, in addition to the traditional ten.

Lindsay Perry fired a final game of 253, to overcome Chris Farrell, finishing with a 1005 four-game total and taking home the top prize. Farrell finished with a 984 total for third place, a single stick behind Lake Krehel’s 985 tally. Farrell had opened the day with a pair of 242 games and a 300, and led by 32 pins going into the fourth and final game. Ronnie Barefoot finished a mere two pins from cashing. Kaytee Simpson used a 278 game to vault her to a 929, the highest of the four ladies entrants.

With all the talk of the ongoing pandemic, there was some good news for some local youth over the weekend. One of the big events of the youth season is always the Pepsi Youth Championships, which under normal conditions, sees four rounds; local, sectional, state, and national. We have all learned though, 2020 is as far from normal as anything we have ever witnessed.

Giving credit to the state level officials, after waiting as long as possible before cancelling the state event, originally scheduled for April, the bowlers who had qualified to advance to the Raleigh competition, were awarded the scholarships which would have been earned at the state level.

This news means four of our local youth have earned scholarships for help with college expenses! Elizabeth Scaff, who finished first in the ladies 17 and under in Goldsboro, earned a $92 award, followed by Jacob Davenport’s $70 award in the Boy’s under 15 division. Gaston Pinner (Boys under 12) and Lindsay Porter (Girls under 20) each earned scholarships of $50. Lindsay is currently a student at College of the Albemarle.

Congratulations to these four bowlers, adding to the scholarship dollars our youth bowlers have earned through our youth program. This year’s youth will begin their quest for more scholarships in the fall, when the 2020-2021 Pepsi Youth Championships begin with local qualifying at Albemarle Lanes.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling!

Mike Hawkins is the bowling columnist for The Daily Advance.