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Merging lanes

They grew up bowling together and pursued their sport at separate colleges – but fate and luck reunited them

by Josh Weinreb

The stakes were high. It was the fifth and final day of the bowling U.S. Team Trials, the last step toward qualification for Junior Team USA.

Arkansas State’s Jadee Scott-Jones and Nebraska’s Gazmine Mason, childhood bowling friends, both won spots on Junior Team USA. PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY GAZMINE MASON

But when the two bowlers saw they had been paired, their deep familiarity gave them a subtle, unspoken confidence, and they knew they would both make the team.

“The fact that we’ve known each other for so long plays into it,” Arkansas State University freshman Jadee Scott-Jones said. “I know what to expect from her. But there’s almost a sense of competition between us, too. … It helps that we push off each other.”

Scott-Jones and University of Nebraska, Lincoln, sophomore Gazmine Mason had been preparing for this moment for weeks but dreaming about it for years. The top two youth bowlers at the U.S. Bowling Congress Team Trials earn automatic spots on Junior Team USA. Scott-Jones finished first; Mason, second.

“It’s honestly amazing to be able to bowl with (Mason) on an international stage,” Scott-Jones said.

The duo met when they were 8 years old, growing up in neighboring towns in Rhode Island. Their relationship evolved when Scott-Jones’ father introduced Mason to bowling. Soon, the two were inseparable – until college forced them apart. Mason went to play for Nebraska’s top-ranked women’s bowling team while Scott-Jones finished  her senior year of high school.

Then came the USBC Team Trials, which offered a chance for Mason and Scott-Jones to reunite.

They practiced endlessly over winter break, scheduling days around their time at the bowling alleys, bringing coaches and mentors along for advice on scoring patterns and strategy.

“When we’re bowling together, we build off each other’s energy,” Mason said. “It was kind of like, ‘Oh, we got this.’ ”