CHATHAM, NJ - The old television show "Bowling for Dollars" ended years ago, but that hasn't stopped Jack Konrad from bowling for dollars at tournaments and saving what he earns in a college scholarship account.
The Chatham High sophomore figures he's gained around $5,000 in prize money through Junior Bowlers Tour events that the US Bowling Congress puts into a SMART account under his name.
"It's a good sport and you get scholarship money when you finish in a high position," Konrad said. "You can play it all year round and because it's indoors, you never get rained out. I was snowed out once, though."
This winter, Konrad has done well off the junior bowling circuit as well, averaging 224 per game for the CHS co-ed bowing team, with a high game of 278, in leading the NJAC South Division in scoring average.
He'll be the first male Chatham bowler since 2007 to compete in the NJSIAA individual state tournament Friday at Bowlero in North Brunswick.
Jack Konrad is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
The two-handed bowler has definitely seen a rise in his game since last spring. In May, he was supposed to compete in a tournament, but got the wrong starting time and missed it. So he decided to practice and threw a 300 in his first game at Boonton Lanes. He then rolled a 300 during a Chatham team practice in November, and again, a week later when he was practicing on his own - both times at Hanover Lanes.
Although his parents, Donna and Kevin, and his Chatham teammates witnessed the 300 games, technically he hasn't rolled an official "perfect game" in a sanctioned event. The closest he got was a 299 during a junior tournament when he left the 7-pin on his final roll.
Konrad started bowling when he was 10, but didn't get serious about it until he saw Jason Belmonte - the top pro bowler in the world - doing trick bowling shots on the "Dude Perfect" YouTube channel.
"I saw him online and he uses a two-hand technique," Konrad said. "I tried it and it was really fun. I was bowling less than 10 times a year up until then. That's when I joined a league and stuck with it."
The 15-year-old isn't yet a pro like Belmonte, but he certainly sounds like one. He knows all about oil patterns and revs (revolutions) on his throws and how to attain the right speed. Konrad owns 22 bowling balls and travels to a pro shop in Connecticut when he needs the oil removed. He'll be bringing nine of his 15-pound balls with him to the state tournament at Bowlero.
"Every single ball does something different," Konrad said. "Pros bring 20 balls to each tournament. My favorite ones are solid symmetrical - the IDOL Solid and the IQ Tour Solid."
Chatham bowling coach Craig Swartz had heard about Konrad when he was in 7th grade.
"His dad would take him to tournaments around the state and I met him when he was in middle school," Swartz said. "He's very bright, and he's continually working on his game."
As a freshman, the left-hander had a nightmarish introduction to the state tournament when he had a rough day at the state sectionals.
"In the first game, I had two gutters," Konrad said. "I can go months on end without throwing a gutter. I threw two in the first game. I was really throwing it hard and playing too far left. In the second game, I made a ball change and shot a 265, but that wasn't enough to make the cut."
Konrad's goal this year is to stay within himself and not overthrow.
"Basically, the more revs you have on the ball, the better," Konrad said. "I know not to overthrow the ball. If I throw it too hard it won't have enough time to hook off at the end. If you overthrow the ball by point-2 miles per hour it can cause you to miss.
"It's so hard to get your speed right, but once you're in a groove, you don't have to think about it."
Konrad's favorite subjects in school are science and math and they complement what he needs to learn about the science of bowling.
"There is a lot of science behind the best ratio of oil on a ball," he said. "Physics is going to be huge next year when I take it. It's going to help me understand a lot more."
Editor's note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at email@example.com to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.