New kid on the block, Cash Keeton, wins Pro Am event at Junior International Championships

Cash Keeton

Childress and Cutting win 18 & Under Boys & Girls event, respectively

Nathan Childress and Joey Tate did not get to renew their battle for supremacy in either the Junior National Championships’ Pro Am or 18 & Under Boys division this past weekend (July 16-18) because Joey Tate was unable to compete. Both, however, did retain their positions at the top of the Pro Am division (Childress #1, Tate #2), in spite of the fact that a literal “new kid on the block,” Cash Keeton entered and won his first and only event of these JIC, losing the hot seat to Landon Hollingsworth (#3 in Pro Am division), but returning from the semifinals to defeat him. The victory put Keeton in the 30th slot on the tour rankings. The Pro Am event drew 27 entrants to The League Room in Parkersburg, WV.

Childress did go undefeated in the 18 & Under Boys division to win his 4th straight title in the division. Ivo Linkin was runner-up in this event and moved up to the #5 spot in the division’s rankings. The 18 & Under Boys event drew 36 entrants (same location). In the 18 & Under Girls division, Tatum Cutting won her second title (she won the first in which she competed in March) and edged into third place in the division’s rankings behind Sofia Mast (also with two wins) and Kennedy Meyman (with one). April Gonzales was runner-up in the girls’ event which drew 13 entrants. Mast finished fourth this time out. Meyman finished 9th. 

Keeton’s path to victory in the Pro Am event began against the competitor who was runner-up in the 18 & Under Boys division, Ivo Linkin. Keeton advanced to down Tanner Elliott and Zaiden Leary to draw Kodi Allen in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Allen had sent Nathan Childress to the loss side in the opening round of play. Landon Hollingsworth, in the meantime, after being awarded an opening round bye, defeated Jayce Little and Riley Adkins to draw AJ Weaver in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

Keeton downed Allen 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced Hollingsworth, who’d sent Weaver west 7-3. Hollingsworth might have been forgiven for thinking “piece of cake” when he gave up only a single rack to Keeton to claim the hot seat. The ‘cake’d come back fresh to challenge him in the finals.

On the loss side, Kodi Allen survived a double hill fight versus Payne McBride, only to be eliminated 7-4 in the quarterfinals by Zaiden Leary, who’d previously defeated Weaver 7-1. Keeton gave up only a single rack to Leary in the semifinals and then downed Hollingsworth in their finals rematch 9-6.

Childress and Cutting go undefeated to claim their respective Boys and Girls titles

The Boys 18 & Under division was the largest of the weekend’s events, drawing 36 entrants. Nathan Childress, after a bye, gave up only five racks in 18 games, versus Jayce Little (0), Dylan Waugh (4) and Eddie Vondereau (1), to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Riley Adkins. Ivo Linkin, in the meantime, had to do some battling to get to the same match. He got by James Kuntz, D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, Brent Worth and Ben Kleinfelter (aggregate score, including one double hill win, of 28-17) to meet his winners’ side semifinal opponent, Owen Chapple.

Childress marched right into the hot seat match with a shutout over Adkins (#2 to Childress’ #1 in the 18 & Under rankings). He was joined by Linkin, who continued his battles with a double hill win over Chapple. Childress claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Linkin.

On the loss side, Trenton White, who’d lost to Riley Adkins in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Zaiden Leary, Eddie Vondreau and, fresh from the winners’ side, Owen Chapple. He defeated Kodi Allen 7-4 in the quarterfinals, but fell to Linkin 7-5 in the semifinals. Linkin fought Childress to double hill in the finals, but Childress had the last word to claim the 18 & Under Boys title.

Tatum Cutting won four straight matches to claim the 18 & Under Girls title. After a bye, she downed Casey Cork 7-4 to face the division’s top-ranked competitor, Sofia Mast, in the event’s winners’ side semifinal. After a bye, April Gonzales survived an opening round, double hill match versus Kennedy Meyman to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Precilia Kinsley.

Gonzales got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Kinsley. Cutting joined her after sending Mast to the loss side 7-5. Cutting took the first of two against Gonzales 7-2 to claim the hot seat,

On the loss side, Kinsley and Mast both survived double hill matches (versus Hayleigh Marion and Skylar Hess, respectively) to face each other in the quarterfinals. Kinsley advanced 7-5 over Mast, only to be eliminated, in another double hill match, by Gonzales in the semifinals. Cutting downed Gonzales a second time 9-7 in the finals to claim the 18 & Under Girls title. 

On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna awarded Eddie Vondereau (winner of the 13 & Under Boys event) the Brendan Crockett Sportsmanship Award, while Grayson Vaughn (3rd place in 13 & Under Boys event) the Jeanette Lee “Black Widow” Comeback Award for being down 1-6 in his opening match against 10-year old Hayden Ernst and coming back to beat him ‘on the hill.’ Hanna thanked Chris Wilson (owner of The League Room in Parkersburg, WV), Chris Reinhold (photography), the Wolfords (Kory and Treena, for their help), Mike Littman of Littman Lights, his (Hanna’s) streaming crew and Dee Adkins, for orchestrating a clinic for the girl competitors at this most recent event. Hanna once again gave a shout out to all of the families of the junior players, whose camaraderie has made these events “truly, one big traveling family.” 

The next stop on the JIC series of events, scheduled for August 27-20, will be hosted by Michael’s in Fairfield, OH. The final event for the 13 & Under Boys and Girls, scheduled for September 17-19, will be hosted by Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. The finals for 18 & Under Boys and Girls, as well as the Pro Am division will coincide with the International Open in Norfolk, VA in October.