A pair of pin knockers are bowled over by the opportunity to represent Alberta at nationals.
Teagan Makar and Milan Murphy of the St. Albert Bowling & Rec Centre qualified for the 55th annual Youth Bowl Canada five-pin tournament as provincial champions.
“It was very exciting because going to nationals in singles has been my dream for nine years so to finally obtain it, it was a very emotional moment for me at provincials,” said Makar, 18, the senior female division winner.
At previous nationals, Makar threw strikes in the junior team format in 2014 and 2015 and last year in senior doubles with Kayle Mak.
“Knowing what to expect at nationals is a big advantage,” said Makar, who finished as high as fifth at the 2014 championship. “Nationals are a whole different environment. Everybody is kind of nervous the first day, there is a lot of pressure associated with it, so just being aware of the pressure that you feel going there and just being able to be comfortable in that pressure and being able to perform and knowing that you performed well at a nationals before really gives yourself confidence that some of the first-timers may not have being really nervous.”
Murphy, 10, is embracing his first nationals with enthusiasm.
“I’m going to maintain focus, make sure I remember everything I need to do and I need to make sure I don’t stress,” said the Grade 5 Marie Poburan student.
Murphy is shooting for “first place” against the best bantam male bowlers in the country.
“My strength is probably staying positive and keeping my mind focused on what my goal is,” said the third-year bowler.
Murphy and Makar are joined by coach Ernie McLellan at the May 5 to 9 championship in Oshawa, Ont. McLellan has instructed bowlers for 39 years and with Alberta is going to his ninth nationals as a singles’ coach and has also attended the tournament as team coach twice and was the provincial chaperone once.
Murphy was determined to go to nationals and stuck to a season-long game plan for success.
“I went bowling quite a lot and I listened to my coaches. They’ve given me really good advice.”
Murphy surpassed his 163 average at provincials in Calgary with scores of 164, 189, 212, 199, 213 and 180 for a 192 average and a berth in the final.
The top three bowlers qualified for the playoffs and the second-best bowler on the leader board was 142 pins behind Murphy’s 1,157 total after six games.
“It was really hard. There was amazing competition there,” said Murphy, who was nervous about playing for all the marbles. “I knew this was my chance to rise above the rest and go to nationals.”
As the strikes mounted, so did Murphy’s anticipation level.
“I did the math and I knew I was going to win and I looked at my mom and I said, ‘I’m going to nationals.’ I was super excited.”
It didn’t take long for Murphy to climb the ranks on the competitive circuit to reach nationals.
“Me and my brother used to bowl with my grandma sometimes when I was probably like three years old and then about three years ago, he asked my mom, ‘Can we join a bowling league?’ I thought that was a great idea so I decided to join him. I started bowling and I started to get better. I listened to my coaches and then I started bowling in tournaments and I then ended up where I am here,” said Murphy, who also qualified for the Youth Classic and Edmonton Bowler of the Year tournaments through the Edmonton 5 Pin Bowlers’ Association.
As for Makar, the road to nationals in singles was a journey worth travelling.
“Definitely after a few heartbreaking losses I had it was hard getting over them, but then I just kind of dug my heels in and kept going because I knew if I kept working harder that one day it would happen and at provincials all the stars were aligned perfectly and I had thrown my best games,” said Makar, who is averaging 243 per game after ending last season at 231.
“To achieve what I wanted to do it was just that daily grind of always coming to the bowling alley for practices, tournaments or leagues and showing your best self, always giving it all you have and never going 50 per cent and always going that 110 per cent,” Makar added. “I like the ability I have of putting all the pressure on myself and not having to rely on a teammate to take me somewhere. It’s having the ability to determine my own success and my destiny.”
At provincials, Makar (165, 265, 264, 247, 276, 252) placed second behind Jenna Lamoureux (206, 262, 199, 284, 275, 285) by 42 pins and in the playoffs, the Grade 12 Jasper Place student defeated the third-place finisher by more than 100 pins before beating Lamoureux twice by approximately 40 in the first playoff and about 15 in the tiebreaker.
“It was very close,” Makar said. “The pressure was definitely on realizing that I had already beat her once and the gold medal was only one game away so I told myself to remain calm, just throw your best ball and if you throw a bad ball just make sure when you pick up the next one it’s a good one. It was just really believing in yourself, knowing that I was capable of doing it and knowing that I was worthy.”