By Fred Eisenhammer
LAKE FOREST – Justin Pluchino turned in a scorching performance at the California State USBC Youth Championships at Forest Lanes in the Orange County city of Lake Forest.
Justin snared titles in both the singles and Masters divisions. He added second-place finishes in doubles (with Julia Frias) and in the all-events category.
Justin, 20, made it seem like child’s play. In earning his singles title, Justin crushed a 756 series (235, 254, 267) to finish 25 pins ahead of Matthew Chestnut, who was representing Parkway Bowl in El Cajon. They were the only bowlers with 700 series.
This was the last time Justin would be eligible to compete in the USBC youth tournament and he thought he “might as well go out with a bang.”
The tournament took place July 23-24.
Justin, representing Winnetka Bowl, was honored at his San Fernando Valley bowling center for his four top finishes on Sept. 20. He had competed in the USBC youth championships before but this was by far his top finish. Justin, who turns 21 on Veterans Day (Nov. 11), officially moved out of the youth division and into the adult class in August.
Justin has been racking up accomplishments, having blasted a prolific 900 no-tap series during the Sweepers tournament of his Junior Royals youth league in May. He also has rolled a perfect game and 796 series.
“I’m pretty satisfied with everything, honestly,” said Justin, who cites top bowler Matt Jones as one of the most helpful influences on his bowling. Justin is now competing in three adult leagues at Winnetka Bowl. After Justin crushed his 900 no-tap series, elite bowler Justin Pluchino Exits Youth Division ‘With a Bang’
Johnnie Englehart described Justin this way: “He’s like the kingpin of the juniors – the top player there. He handles it well and is just a good kid – not one of those entitlement guys. And I know he loves to bowl.”
For now, Justin is looking ahead to when he turns 21 and is eligible to receive his Professional Bowlers Assn. card. Then he wants to start bowling adult tournaments and PBA regional events. And Justin makes no secret of the fact that he would like to join the PBA Tour at some point. Although he can’t bowl in his Junior Royals league at Winnetka Bowl any more, he still visits and helps out the bowlers. “I enjoyed the youth leagues when I had a chance to,” Justin said. “It’s now time to move on.”