Thrilling Showdown at the Chemist Warehouse National Training Squad Trials

By Matt Stevens
January 29, 2024

This past weekend, the AGL National High Performance Centre on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, witnessed a spectacular display of bowling talent at the Chemist Warehouse National Training Squad (NTS) Trials.

Designed for under 18 and under 21 bowlers, the inaugural event brought together some of the country’s most promising young bowlers to help shape the future of Australian bowling with athletes vying for spots in two divisions –NTS 18 (under 18) and NTS 21 (ages 18-21).

The Trials, orchestrated by Head Coach Robert Alexander, challenged participants with a rigorous format. Competitors in both NTS 18 and NTS 21 divisions faced two sessions, each comprising six games. Adding to the complexity, each session featured distinct oil patterns, carefully selected by Alexander to test the versatility and adaptability of the bowlers on medium and long patterns. The difference in patterns helping to emulate similar challenges faced by Australian bowlers in International competition.

“I am thrilled with the success of this year’s event, which was not only a high-level competition but also saw impressive participation for its inaugural run” explained TBA General Manager of Performance, Gareth Webber.

“The support from families, friends, and the community was remarkable, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere in the centre.

“We witnessed the majority of our top juniors and youth showcasing their skills on challenging patterns that replicated international conditions. The competition was intense, with many spots being decided in the final games, demonstrating the depth of talent we have. This event truly highlighted the bright future of Tenpin Bowling in Australia” added Webber.

Outstanding Performances

Shanae Key – NTS 18 Girl’s

In the NTS 18 category, Victorian Shanae Key delivered an exceptional performance, dominating the female field. She showcased her skill and consistency by finishing at the top in both sessions of the Trials.

Key’s total score of 2,237 not only reflected her prowess but also placed her 87 pins ahead of her closest competitor, the emerging talent Bella Westlake. This victory underscores Key’s remarkable abilities and cements her position as a leading figure in the NTS 18 division.

Following her impressive debut at the 2023 Asian Junior Championships in Singapore, Shanae Key’s return to the NTS 18 is highly anticipated. Her performance at the Trials solidifies her reputation as a formidable bowler to watch in the coming year.

Samantha Clifton – NTS 21 Girl’s

For the NTS 21 category, Samantha Clifton’s performance was a highlight of the Trials. She made a significant leap in the standings on the second day. Initially, Clifton secured 4th place on the medium oil pattern with a solid total of 1,026.

However, it was on day two’s long pattern where she truly shone. Demonstrating remarkable skill and consistency, Clifton averaged an impressive 223.6 per game. This outstanding performance across the six games brought her day two total to 1,342.

Overall, with a cumulative score of 2,368, Clifton has firmly established herself as a formidable talent in the NTS 21 division. Her return in 2024 is eagerly anticipated, marking her as a bowler to watch in the upcoming season.

Julian Dinham – NTS 18 Boy’s

The boys’ category witnessed an exciting Dinham brother quinella finish. Julian Dinham, who developed strongly last year with some impressive performances on the ranked event circuit , will turn 18 in 2024, making him two years older than his younger brother, Justin, who turns 16 this year. However, on the lanes, age proved to be just a number. The competition between the brothers was intensely close, with Julian narrowly securing the top spot on the leaderboard. His 12-game total stood at 2,333, edging out Justin by a mere two pins.

This remarkable performance by the Dinham brothers is further highlighted by a notable family achievement. With their success, 2024 marks a significant year for the Dinham family, as three of its members have now made National training squads. This includes their older brother Jordan, who has qualified for the NTS Open, showcasing the impressive bowling talent that runs in the family.

Blake Walsh – NTS 21 Boy’s

Hailing from Ballina, Blake Walsh quickly showcased a remarkable transition after moving up from the juniors in 2023. His debut in the older age group was nothing short of spectacular. Walsh demonstrated his exceptional bowling skills, leaving a significant mark on the competition.

On the medium oil pattern, he amassed a score of 1,230, setting a high bar for his competitors. However, it was on the second day’s long pattern where Walsh truly distinguished himself. He notched up an impressive score of 1,439, thereby consolidating his position in this year’s youth squad.

Finishing a staggering 252 pins ahead of his nearest competitor, Walsh’s performance was a clear indicator of his potential and skill. His ability to outperform in a new and more challenging division highlights him as a formidable presence in the bowling circuit and a valuable addition to this year’s youth squad.

Qualifiers

The stakes were high, as the top 4 bowlers from each division were vying for automatic qualification into this year’s National Training Squads for NTS 18 and NTS 21. After intense competition, the qualifiers who emerged are:

NTS 18

Girls:

  1. Shanae Key (VIC) – 2,237
  2. Bella Westlake (QLD) – 2,150
  3. Vanessa Hannigan (QLD) – 2,105
  4. Jasmine Walker (TAS) – 2,068

Boys:

  1. Julian Dinham (NSW) – 2,333
  2. Justin Dinham (NSW) – 2,331
  3. Liam Cochrane (SA) – 2,323
  4. Nichloas Rajkovic (VIC) – 2,316

NTS 21

Girls:

  1. Samantha Clifton (NSW) – 2,368
  2. Hannah Clark (QLD) – 2,196
  3. Tahlia Corbett (QLD) – 2,164
  4. Ashlyn Mohr (WA) – 2,082

Boys:

  1. Blake Walsh (NSW) – 2,669
  2. Ryan Chi (NSW) – 2,417
  3. Jackson Buckingham (QLD) – 2,385
  4. Cooper Hillyer (VIC) – 2,358

Congratulations to Ryan Chi who bowled the highest game of the trails with a 288 in the third game on the long pattern.

Special acknowledgment goes to Chemist Warehouse, the naming rights partner of TBA’s High-Performance programs, including the NTS. Additionally, heartfelt thanks to AGL, the naming sponsor of the National High-Performance Centre, and the diligent team who ensured the event’s smooth operation.

Looking Forward

The remaining spots of the 2024 Chemist Warehouse National Training Squads for 18’s and 21’s will be selected following the process on the National Team Selection Policy. A public announcement of these selections is expected next week.

The NTS Trials have shown immense promise in its inaugural year. Not only are the Trials another avenue to be selected in the countries elite training squad, but the Trials are a celebration of emerging bowling talent in Australia.

Tenpin Bowling Australia thanks all bowlers who participated in this year’s Trials and we look forward to the evolvement of the concept becoming a cornerstone in discovering and nurturing bowling talent.

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