Pair of Milford bowlers to compete in USBC Junior Gold Championships

MILFORD – For the average kid, a night out at the local bowling alley is typically a fun experience and an opportunity to socialize with friends.

For Milford residents Abby Justice, 14, and Megan Busche, 11, a night out at the bowling alley is all business.

Abby has been bowling since the age of eight, while Megan picked up her first bowling ball around four years old. Now, the hard work the two girls have put in over the years is starting to pay dividends.

Next month, the pair of girls will take a flight to Dallas, Texas and compete in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Junior Gold Championships.

Abby Justice, left, and Megan Busche, right, do most of their practicing and training at Milford Bowling Lanes (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“Bowling runs in my family,” Abby said during a sit-down interview at Milford Bowling Lanes Wednesday, June 13. “My dad bowled, my sister bowls and now I bowl and so does my little brother.”

“She was kind of force-fed into bowling,” Abby’s father, Rick Justice, said with a laugh. “She started when she was about 7-8 years old and she just progressed from there. She decided she wanted to take it seriously, so we started practicing and training instead of just coming out to have fun. Megan’s done the same thing, she’s really come a long way too. Both of them have.”

“Megan just started here [Milford Bowling Lanes] on Saturday mornings – at that time they were called peewees – and she would just start pushing the ball down the ramps. She really started liking it,” said Megan’s mother, Teresa Busche, about how she got her start.

Megan started getting serious about bowling around the age of eight and, now, three years later she puts in hours of practice on a nearly daily basis.

“She usually goes to the lanes about four, sometimes five, days a week,” Teresa said of Megan’s practice schedule.

“She’ll practice in the back yard as well,” Rick Busche, Megan’s father, added. “We have little lanes spray painted in the grass and she’ll practice her release back there.”

In order to qualify for the national competition, Abby placed second in the Pepsi USBC Youth championship (15u) in March. Megan, competing in the 12u age group, placed first at the Pepsi USBC Youth Championship in March to earn her spot in the national competition.

Mr. Justice, who runs the pro shop at Milford Bowling Lanes, has been a bowling coach for about 15 years and serves as coach for both Megan and Abby.

“I coach individuals, and I only coach if they can handle it,” he said. “Megan and Abby both love the game and truly want to learn and get better. They want to expand their knowledge of bowling because they want to go a lot further.”

In order to expand that bowling knowledge, the Justice family made a trip down to Florida in April to visit the Kegel Training Center and learn from well-known bowling coach Randy Stoughton.

“My family took me down to Florida to see a coach at Kegel and he fixed me up and that’s how I’m bowling now,” Abby said of the trip. “My dad was also paying attention to some of the stuff he was teaching us down there, so he’s helping me out and making sure I’m doing things right.”

Among Abby’s technique changes since the Kegel trip in April: “I now cross over on my second step, I drop my ball arm straight down instead of pushing out and instead of going out with my extra hand it pushes down.”

Just last month, Megan attended a Sean Rash bowling camp in New Jersey to work on her own technique.

“I worked with professionals while I was at the camp and one of the things I worked on was my timing,” she said.

“You can bowl five times a week but if you’re not serious about it you’re not going to get better. But Megan and Abby are serious about it and are constantly learning things on their own,” Mr. Busche said.

“For Megan, I always say she eats, breathes and sleeps bowling,” Ms. Busche said. “If she’s not bowling, she’s watching it. If it’s not on T.V. she’ll put Youtube videos up on the T.V. screen so she can watch it.”

With the championships just about a month away, Megan and Abby are putting in extra work at the lanes to make final preparations.

“Since school just let out I can get to the lanes more and get more practice in,” Abby said. “And I can focus on what I need to do, set my game points.”

“I’ve just been practicing a whole lot,” Megan added of her own preparations.

The 2018 USBC Junior Gold Championships run from Saturday, July 14 through Saturday, July 21 across four different bowling centers in Texas.

The girls will compete in four days of qualifying, from Monday, July 16 to Thursday, July 19, until USA Bowling match play is set to officially begin 8:30 p.m. Thursday night.

The two girls are looking to raise $3,000 to cover expenses ahead of the trip.

In order to raise some of the money, the pair put together a raffle. For more information regarding the raffle, or to make a donation, you may contact Teresa Busche via email at Teresabusche@gmail.com.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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