CHATHAM, NJ - Jack Konrad is always looking for ways to improve his bowling form, even after he rolled a perfect 300 game early in the 2021 season for Chatham High.
"Until you're perfect, there is always room to improve," he said. "I'm never going to achieve perfection, but I want to get as good as I can."
This year, the 16-year-old junior has been out to show how consistent he can be, too. The incentive came after his first sanctioned 300 game at Rockaway Lanes on Feb. 3 when it was written in one publication that he may have caught "lightning in a bottle" because two of his nine game scores up to that point had been under 200.
"The article said I might be inconsistent," Konrad said. "I had thrown my lowest score of 189 in the first game and then followed with the 300. That's a pretty big jump. After that, there just was one series where all three of my scores were under 200. Other than that, I didn't throw a single game under 200 the rest of the year. I used it as motivation to show how consistent I could be."
Konrad's point became historical record on Thursday, March 4, when he completed the 2021 high school bowling season with a 233 average - the No. 1 average on the Chatham High all-time chart and one of the best averages in the state this year.
His final game of the season Thursday began with 10 strikes and on his 11th roll he left the eight-pin standing, closing with a 289 and a 758 series. In the conference, he led the NJAC South with a 230 average.
Jack Konrad is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
Konrad had been on a hot streak in his 2020 competition with the Junior Bowlers Tour before everything was shut down for three months because of the virus pandemic. When bowling started back up for him over the summer, he had to rebuild his game.
"It felt really weird coming back and it took two or three months to feel even remotely comfortable," Konrad said. "I would get tired and I had to slowly build my stamina back up. I decided to start with a skeleton form of myself and kept adding and making adjustments to it."
While he was kept from physically bowling during the pandemic, Konrad did exercise his mind with the sport by watching InsideBowling on Youtube, where pro bowlers explained their approaches and gave tips.
"I picked up a lot of little things from that show," Konrad said. "One thing I noticed that I really wanted to fix, I used to follow through over my right shoulder. All the pros follow through straight up. That's what increases your accuracy, your follow-through."
Another change Konrad made was the way he held the ball. Watching himself in the video taken at the county finals last year, he noticed he was holding the ball on the side.
"I never noticed that I did that, I always thought it was straight," Konrad said. "Now I position my hand behind the ball and hold it flat. That allows me to get to my target more and my accuracy has improved 50 to 100 percent."
Konrad changed the position of his hand about a month before the season started and also placed himself more in the middle of the lane for his shots, which slowed him down and improved his control. His high series this season has been a 781 (267-280-234).
"He wants to study engineering, so he's got the engineering mind," Chatham bowling coach Craig Swartz said. "He's very bright. He dissects the lanes like nobody. He's the full package."
The left-hander has thrived using the two-handed technique he copied from Australian professional bowler Jason Belmonte, and predicts that it will be the style kids will use in the future.
"Actually, two-handed is growing like crazy," he said. "In 10 years, you'll see at least half the youth bowlers be two-handed or more."
His average on the Junior Bowlers Tour is 222, where his goal is to get to the finals. As good as his results have been, Konrad thrives on his desire to improve.
"I really want to work on my form a lot," he said. "There are things that I know are wrong. I have major balance issues at the line and I've been missing too many spares. Knowing that I have room to improve is a good thing. I'm not at my peak and I can still get better.
"Until you've thrown 300 every game, you're never perfect. There's always something to work on. It's easy to find if you look at the shots that don't strike."
Konrad has six 300 games under his belt, but the first five came in practice sessions - two leading up to the Feb. 3 one, his first "sanctioned" perfect game.
"It just means it officially counts," Konrad said. "No matter what anyone says, it's official now. People can't say it was just practice."
Konrad completes 300 game, the first by a Chatham bowler since Brandon Schindler rolled one in 2007
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