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Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, Calif., the defending boys U20 champion, took the early lead on the first day of qualifying Monday for the USBC Junior Gold Bowling Championship with a five-game total of 1,173 pins (234.60).

Max Galarce of Lake Zurich, Ill. bowled a 300 in his final game of the day to move into second place with 1,135. Ashlyn Herzberg of Wichita, Kan., was the girls U20 leader with 1,092.

Low’s high game was an opening 257. Jack Steward of Park City, Kan. shots a pair of 276 game, but was only in 14th place with a 1.68 total (213.50).

Andrew Herbert of Eden is the closest to the lead among the WNY entries in U20. He was 18th with 1,060, which included a 268 game. Melanie Hannon of Cheektowaga stood tied for 54th in girls U20 with 976 (195.20 average)

Parking was at a premium outside and elbow room was scarce inside of six Buffalo area bowling establishments as Junior Gold got under way. A total of 2,416 youth bowlers are competing at six bowling centers in the suburbs – girls at Classic Lanes in Kenmore, Tonawanda Bowling Center in Tonawanda and AMF Lancaster Lanes in Depew, boys at AMF Thruway Lanes and AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga and Transit Lanes in Williamsville. AMF Airport Lanes will host the final rounds of competition for all bowlers.

The entire field in U20 and U15 will bowl a second five-game qualifying round today and another on Wednesday before the first cut is made. The U12 divisions will bowl four more games today.

Making the first cut to the advancers round after 15 games of qualifying over three days is projected to be 154 bowlers in the U20 boys, 86 in U20 girls, 50 in U15 boys and 30 in U15 girls. The 12-and-under boys and girls will bowl 12 games to narrow the field to 12 in each division.

The final advancers round will feature 64 in U20 boys, 48 in U20 girls, 24 in U15 boys, 20 in U15 girls, 18 in U12 boys and 12 in U12 girls.

During the competition six places on Junior Team USA will be on the line for both the boys and girls squads. The final eight spots, four boys and four girls, will be determined at the USBC Team USA Trials in January.