Jordan Dinham surprised the field when the Filipino-Australian topped the qualifying round of the youth boys category of the Philippine International Open (PIO) Tenpin Bowling Championships.

The 18-year-old from Bankstown, New South Wales, Australia rolled an aggregate score of 1390 after a combined effort of 651 and 739 pinfalls after two rounds that put him ahead of national team mainstay Merwin Tan and Ivan Malig of TBAM-Prima.

Tan, the reigning Asian youth tenpin champion, started off strong with a 713 in the initial frame, but slowed down in the succeeding round after rolling 655 to secure second place in the qualifier where the top 18 bowlers advance to the finals on Friday.

In the youth girls division, Bea Hernandez, another promising kegler from the national pool, didn’t disappoint after compiling 1246 on the strength of her 603 and 643 outputs in two rounds during the tourney backed by Pagcor, Cafe Puro, Prima Pasta, Boysen Paints, Linden Suites and the Philippine Sports Commission.

Trailing Hernandez, a doubles bronze medalist in the 2017 Asian youth championships with Nina De Vera, were national teammates Cherry Ng (1220), Dale Lazo (1180) and Noelle Campos (1172) of TBAM-Prima. They will lead eight other qualifiers in the finals on Friday.

Also making it to the girls finale are national pool members Alyssa Ty (1147), Norel Nuevo (1103) and Grace Gella (1071). Cyrah Mendoza (1028), Ann Gronepillo (1016), Daphne Custodio (1011), Kassie Yap (997) and Iele Misa (997) also made the cut.

Dinham, who picked up the sport as early as seven years old, is a first-timer in the PIO, but made heads turn when he grabbed the gold medal in the boys’ singles and all-events of the 2019 National Youth Championships.

Joining Dinham, Tan and Malig in the boys finals are the national pool quartet of Kayle Abad (1291), Patrick Nuqui (1284), Kenzo Umali (1273) and Praise Gahol (1246).

In the qualifying rounds of the men’s and women’s open, seasoned keglers Kenneth Chua and Lara Posadas-Wong gained headway going into the finals against a highly competitive foreign field representing a total of nine countries.

Chua is bound to face defending champion Sam Cooley of Australia in his bid to rule the PIO, which serves as the test event for the coming Southeast Asian Games, while Posadas-Wong will meet women’s defending champion Liza Del Rosario.

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