Central senior ready to take his game to the next level
By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
His grandfather took him to play the game first.
Now Derek Hampton is not only hooked, he’s hoping one day to make a living in bowling.
“Maybe someday I’ll be pro and make money at it,” Hampton said. “If not, I’ll still play the rest of my life.”
For now, the Grand Junction 17-year-old is hoping to win a U.S. Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championship next week in Indianapolis.
Hampton qualified for the national junior tournament for the third consecutive year, but is participating in his second tournament. He missed it last year because of a conflict.
The Central High School senior qualified for the national tournament by winning a qualifying tournament in Denver a few months ago.
“There is pressure there,” Hampton said. “We drive to Denver and there’s a chance I don’t qualify.”
Two years ago, he rolled a personal best 299 (out of a possible 300) to qualify for nationals, only to fail to advance out of the early rounds.
“I feel a lot better,” Hampton said. “I know what to expect. I’ve talked to a lot of kids who did well at nationals. It takes a lot of practice.
“I want to do better than last time. Number one would be nice, but as long as I do better than last time I’ll be happy.”
He wouldn’t mind doing well enough to be selected to the U.S. National junior team either.
The junior team consists of eight boys and eight girls. Five each qualify based on highest actual pinfall for 30 games at the USBC Junior Gold Championships. An additional three boys and three girls are chosen based on criteria by the National Selection Committee from the remaining finalists at the tournament.
Hampton led Central High School to the Western Slope tournament championship five months ago with the highest individual average score. He averages 205.
Two months ago, Hampton won $600 in scholarship money in a tournament. He won close to $1,500 total in scholarship money, but he hasn’t decided where he’ll attend college or what he’ll study.
Hampton takes six balls to the tournament for use on different surfaces.
The bowling lanes have different amounts of oil on them, so competitors need to become familiar with them and make adjustments to what balls they use.
The competitors will bowl six games each day to create an average score. The top 160 of the 1,100 bowlers will advance to the elimination rounds. The top 160 receive scholarship money.