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Bowlers reach the podium at YBC nationals

Isabelle Hayden and Jordyn Graham won gold in senior girl doubles and Kayleen Kajorinne captured bronze in junior girl singles.

THUNDER BAY – Three bowlers from Thunder Bay brought home some hardware from the YBC (Youth Bowl Canada) 5-pin Nationals in Orleans, Ont. and Gatineau, Que.

The team of Isabelle Hayden and Jordyn Graham captured the gold medal in the senior girls doubles event, while Kayleen Kajorinne won the bronze medal in the junior girls singles category.

This is the third medal for Graham - she won a gold medal in the junior girls doubles event in 2019 and a silver in the trios event last year, while her teammate Hayden reached the podium for the first time.

“I just wanted to win a medal before I aged out from YBC,” Hayden said. “I didn’t care what colour it was, but to win a gold was really cool.”

“Isabelle definitely came through in the clutch in a couple of games where I wasn’t bowling all that well,” Graham added. “She lifted me up a couple of times so I was really grateful.”

Kajorinne now has one of each medal from the YBC. She won a gold in the bantam girls doubles competition in 2019 and was part of the silver medal trios team that included Graham and Heather Parry of North Bay.

In the individual category, however, there was a lot more work that she had to do on the mental side of the game.

“I just had to make sure that I wasn’t getting into my own head,” Kajorinne said.

“I got better with that over the course of the year. At the start, it was really bad and I just got so mad over everything, but I had a really good attitude at nationals.”

One of the challenges that the bowlers had to face during the event was the fact that they competed at different alleys.

“For the spectators, there was a lot less room to watch in Gatineau and I found the lanes were actually a little stickier there as well,” Graham said.

“I ended up falling a couple of times and having a lot more problems with my approach there than I did at the other alley, but I liked bowling at both of them.”

Hayden also said the atmosphere at both venues was fantastic.

“Everyone was super inviting and you weren’t left out of anything,” Hayden said.

“All of the people there would talk to you and make sure that you were having fun and stuff like that.”

All three bowlers are eligible to compete at the 2025 YBC nationals.

It will be the final year for Hayden and Graham to take part in the competition before they age out, while Kajorinne is moving up to the senior girls division.

“That will be a little bit different but I know a lot of the bowlers there already from having gone to the nationals in the past,” Kajorinne said.

“When you start to meet the bowlers from the other provinces, they are all super friendly. You are competing against each other of course, but they’ll talk to you and you won’t feel as intimidated as you do when you show up for the first time.”

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