Dolph leads team to 4th

Lucas Punkari

Heading into the Youth Challenge Nationals this past weekend in Winnipeg, local bowler Lyle Dolph simply was hoping to stay positive and do his best as a member of Team Northern Ontario.
The 17-year-old Fort Frances native was able to do just that—and more—as he and his teammates came away with a fourth-place showing.
“We had a really strong team there,” Dolph enthused.
“We were all motivated and we were all pumped up throughout the whole tournament, and we worked together really well as a team.
“Plus, having your teammates cheer you on was always nice,” he smiled.
The qualifying round opened Thursday evening with the 11 teams vying for a spot in the six-team championship round.
“From Thursday night until the end of the day on Friday, it was a very stressful experience to try and get those six spots, especially with tough competition from across country,” Dolph explained.
In the end, though, Dolph helped his team by averaging 249.8 and also earning six individual points to help Northern Ontario finish in a tie for first with 52 points with the eventual champions from Ontario.
“We were a little bit upset at first, actually, with some minor flaws and things like that but the overall stress wasn’t too bad,” noted Dolph, whose high game was a 300 against Team Manitoba in his 10th game.
“Personally, after I was put as the last shooter [anchor] on the team for the games, I thought I did a lot better to help out the team in that position,” he added.
“In the match-play format, you tend to put the strongest bowler at the end.
“And if you are a bowler who likes to play under pressure, you usually want to near the end,” he reasoned.
Dolph’s average score also put him in fourth place among all the male bowlers in the preliminary round.
But he missed out on earning a $1,000 scholarship, which went to Curtis Dunis who averaged 273.58.
“I would have loved to have gotten that [scholarship] but I was still happy with how I played,” Dolph said.
In Saturday’s championship round, Northern Ontario ended up earning 21 points to finish in a three-way tie for second with Quebec and Alberta.
But the squad ended up in fourth place officially as the result of losses in the head-to-head games against those two teams.
Dolph led the way in his final five games, collecting four points with an average of 277.4, with a single-game best performance of 318 coming in his first game versus Ontario.
“I think we did even better in the championship round against those top teams,” Dolph noted.
“But with the way that the standings worked out with the tie-breakers, we ended up coming in fourth place.”