Billiard Education Foundation Junior Nationals / Normal, IL
by Lea Andrews
There’s no shortage of young talent right now in Normal, IL, as nearly 100 junior players from across the country are gathered in the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University for the Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) 21st Annual Junior Nationals. The event, which runs July 23-26, is being run by BEF Executive Director and WPBA player Laura Smith, along with her fellow WPBA player and BEF Program Development Director Dawn Hopkins.
Several of the 46 players in the 19-and-under Boys Division posted strong first round wins, a couple of which were shutouts. Michael Rudd of Knoxville, TN, blew past Michael Stowe of Oakforest, IL, 9-0, while Matthew “Dillon” Whaley of Beulaville, NC, did the same to Bryan Walters of Knoxville, TN. Also advancing with strong wins are Greensburg, KY’s two-time Junior Nationals 14-and-under Champion Landon Shuffett, who sent Rowlett, TX’s Trey McMullen west 9-1, and Springfield, OH’s Luke Cason, who won 9-1 over Gerald Gale of Albuquerque, NM.
The 32-entrant 14-and-under Boys Division also had more than its fair share first-round shutouts: Zach Leonard (Lexington, NC) over James Cremens, III (Ayer, MA), Brendan Crockett (Bell Canyon, CA) over Gabe Grissom (Wilmington, NC), Bryce Lepak (Winter Springs, FL) over Logan Leidecker (Salem, KY), Landon Cason (Springfield, OH) over Hunter Bartlett (Traverse City, MI), Cole Weikert (Salem, OH) over Jake Wright (Albuquerque, NM), and Jackson “Smoky” Jeffreys (Raleigh, NC) over Drew Clark (Massillion, OH). Following up last weekend’s Tri-State Tour win with a first round Junior Nationals win is Dover, NJ’s Jonathan Castillo, who sent Gallup, NM’s Sheldon Barber to the left side of the bracket 7-5.
In the 12-entrant 19-and-under Girls Division, Centerville, OH’s Liz Lovely, who performed well in this month’s inaugural WPBA Satellite Tour’s event, opened up with a 7-0 win over Carol Davis of Morehead City, NC. Nicole Jaynes of Albuquerque, NM, also shut out her opponent, Tiffany Leonard of Richlands, NC. Meanwhile, Evansville, IN’s Chelsea Hardwick, who knocked out pros Tiffany Nelson-Crain and Sarah Rousey at the Satellite Tour event, posted a 7-1 win over Caitlyn Shuping of Richardson, TX.
The two girls in the 14-and-under division, Briana Miller of Allentown, PA, and Taylor Reynolds of Waterville, ME, will play three races to seven over Saturday and Sunday.