LAS VEGAS – Junior Team USA’s Mabel Cummins of Hermitage, Tennessee, hopes to eventually work in the field of forensic pathology, but until she’s ready for her first crime scene, she’ll settle for analyzing and navigating the thought-provoking oil patterns at the world’s top-tier bowling events.
Though she’s just 19 years old, Cummins already is a junior at Vanderbilt University, equally meticulous when it comes to managing her tasks, goals and a diverse schedule.
She recently earned a return trip to Junior Team USA for 2022 based on her performance in the U20 division at the 2021 Junior Gold Championships, and she’ll look to add to the dozen medals she has earned while representing Junior Team USA on the lanes since 2018.
The steady-handed and level-headed right-hander overcame some mid-block challenges Tuesday at the Gold Coast Bowling Center to land in sixth place in the women’s daily standings and tied for 17th overall after two of the event’s five days.
All rounds of competition are being broadcast live at BowlTV.com.
Cummins rolled games of 257, 218, 214, 171, 142 and 253 for a 1,255 total Tuesday, a 209.17 average on the day’s 40-foot lane condition.
Experience, patience and a consistent routine helped Cummins maintain her composure as she got the day back on track. She also has been able to rely on improved spare shooting, which becomes much more important on oil patterns that traditionally yield fewer strikes.
“We get in a lot of spare shooting during the collegiate season, including during our entire practice on Tuesdays, so I feel like I’ve been able to improve there, and it definitely helps at an event like this,” Cummins said. “I haven’t had as much time to bowl as I would like, but that just means I need to be more efficient with my practices. The collegiate season and bowling on different patterns, plus some extra time on the lanes during the holiday break, had me feeling very prepared for this week.”
Five-time Team USA member Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, averaged more than 216 to lead Tuesday’s round with a 1,297 total. She is coming off a year that included three titles on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour and a two-medal performance for Team USA at the 2021 PANAM Bowling Elite Championships in Colombia.
Junior Team USA member Crystal Elliott of Palm Bay, Florida, and 21-time Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, tied for second place Tuesday with 1,275 and were followed by Alexandria Smigiel of Clinton Township, Michigan (1,259), and Victoria Giardina of Shelby Township, Michigan (1,256).
Since the USBC Team USA Trials features a unique point-based format, attention will begin to shift to the week’s overall rankings.
The top bowler of each round will earn one ranking point, second place will earn two points, etc. – with the lowest total of ranking points after five rounds determining the men’s and women’s USBC Team Trials champions. Each will earn an automatic spot on Team USA for 2022.
Pluhowsky, one of the world’s premier left-handers and a recent major champion on the PWBA Tour, tops the overall standings after two days with five points. She is followed by four bowlers who all are past members of Junior Team USA – Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina (13), Ashley Rucker of Bartlesville, Oklahoma (19), Taylor Bailey of Jonesboro, Arkansas (20), and Bond (21).
The top of the men’s two-day standings also includes players with experience in the Team USA program.
Local standout and two-time Team USA member Darren Tang leads with 16 ranking points. He is followed by Trent Mitchell of Chicago (18), former Junior Team USA member Dallas Leong of Las Vegas (29), and current Team USA members Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, North Carolina (33), and AJ Johnson of Oswego, Illinois (37).
The Day 2 standings for the men featured much of the same.
Leong (1,332) and Tang (1,323) led the way and were joined by Perry Crowell IV of St. Clair Shores, Michigan (1,318), Harley Shene of San Jose, California (1,301), and Ronnie Fujita of Richmond, California (1,293).
Fujita was part of Junior Team USA in 2014, and Crowell and Tang won a team gold medal together for Team USA at the 2019 PANAM Bowling Men’s Championships. Shene enjoyed success on the national stage as a U12 champion at the 2017 USA Bowling National Championships.
“Team Trials is one of my favorite events to bowl, and it’s a privilege to get to compete for the opportunity to represent our country,” Leong said. “It’s always tough, so to have a performance like I did today is remarkable. I’m speechless at the end of the day. It was about patience, filling frames, making the good pairs look good and the bad pairs look OK. I was fortunate to come out on top.”
As the men bowled their six games Tuesday, Cummins was back in the bowling center to watch her friends and Junior Team USA teammates, but she also was focused on a few of her other responsibilities.
She’s almost a real-life Forrest Gump when it comes to all the different jobs she has taken on, but hers all are happening at once, while Gump’s bigger-than-life resume spanned a lifetime.
Beyond being an honor student, Junior Team USA member, National Tenpin Coaches Association second-team All-America selection and recently certified USBC Bronze coach, Cummins fills her days with endeavors that are shaping her off-lane career.
“When you’re applying to medical school, you have to have the whole picture,” Cummins said. “You have to have the academics. I have the athletics. Then, you have to have the extracurriculars – volunteering, shadowing and research are the three big ones.”
Cummins’ major is neuroscience, which has her on Vanderbilt’s pre-med track.
She volunteers with an American Red Cross program that teaches children about disaster preparedness. She is a certified emergency medical technician and volunteers in the Vanderbilt Adult Hospital emergency room, where she recently spent time working on the facility’s helipad. She’s a research assistant in Vanderbilt’s Department of Anesthesiology. Finally, she recently became the president of Vanderbilt’s Undergraduate Honor Council.
And, because she earned an extra year of collegiate eligibility due to COVID-19’s effect on the 2019-2020 bowling season, she now plans to secure a master’s degree before heading to medical school.
That’s where Vanderbilt’s bowling coaches (John Williamson and Team USA member Josie Barnes) come in, along with Cummins’ various advisors. They all have been flexible and understanding of her eclectic schedule, something she made sure to earn by always putting 100% effort into each thing.
“It’s a lot of time management and setting priorities, and I have a planner that’s every 15 minutes,” Cummins said. “I’m passionate about so many things, and I love everything I do. I think that’s what makes it so easy to balance it. Plus, it’s all so much fun. I have such a good time doing everything that it never feels like work.”
Cummins will have some time Wednesday morning to catch up on her schoolwork, too, since the women don’t take the lanes for their third round of Team Trials competition until 6 p.m. Eastern.
Or, she’ll hit the gym for a run and some weightlifting, which she likes to do in her free time.
Whether it’s bowling, helping people or just balancing everyday things, being consistent is a key to success and managing any ups and downs like she had on the lanes Tuesday.
“I always go through the exact same process after every tournament or squad, which includes analyzing what I did well, what went wrong and what I’d do differently if I could do the whole day over again,” Cummins said. “I’ll go through that process today and tomorrow and the next day. It’s my mental reset. It’s no different than a pre-shot routine, and these habits are very ingrained. It all helps you build a strong mental game, because you’re doing the same thing mentally and physically every time.”
Leong, Tang and the rest of the 161-player men’s field will be back on the lanes at Gold Coast at 11 a.m. EST, and Wednesday’s challenge will be similar 41-foot oil patterns for each gender. The five conditions this week will range from 36-45 feet.
The tournament will conclude Friday with the introduction of Team USA and Junior Team USA 2022.
The top four age-eligible men and top four age-eligible women this week, based on ranking points, will earn automatic spots on Team USA, while two additional men and two additional women will be selected by the National Selection Committee from the pool of players that competed during the week at the Gold Coast Bowling Center.
Bowlers now must be at least 18 years old as of the end of the 2022 Team USA Trials to be eligible for the adult version of Team USA.
The National Selection Committee also will select additional men and women for the team based on submitted resumes. Those applicants must have been Team USA or Junior Team USA members within the last 10 years or among the top 25 in earnings during the 2021 PBA Tour season or top 25 in points during the 2021 PWBA Tour season.
After the final qualifying round at the Team Trials, the top three amateur men and top three amateur women will advance to a stepladder final to determine the U.S. Amateur champions. Both winners will earn spots on Team USA.
If the U.S. Amateur champion already has earned a spot on the team, the spot will be awarded to the next-highest Team USA Trials qualifier based on ranking points.
To be eligible for this year’s U.S. Amateur, a bowler must not hold or have held a professional membership (PBA or PWBA) in 2021. Also, anyone who has won a professional title (regional, national or senior) as a professional is not eligible to compete as an amateur.
For youth competitors, the top four age-eligible boys and top four age-eligible girls, based on ranking points, automatically will earn spots on Junior Team USA 2022. Two additional boys and two additional girls also will be selected by the National Selection Committee based on performances from either the 2022 Team USA Trials or 2021 Junior Gold Championships.
They will join the youth competitors who already earned their spots on Junior Team USA 2022 during the 2021 Junior Gold Championships.
BowlTV will provide wire-to-wire coverage of the events, including the announcement and introduction of Team USA and Junior Team USA 2022.