WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School bowling phenomenon Kieryn Knox may only be a sophomore, but he is the lynchpin to what has become a winning team with back-to-back conference and county championships.
Individually, Knox placed fourth in the state championships and is already looking ahead to next year and beyond. Despite having only one senior on the team, the Mountaineers are expecting another exciting season in 2020-21 with Knox at the helm.
“Kieryn’s average score this season was 224.4, and he threw a perfect 300 game during the championships,” said bowling coach Bill Urbanski. “I’ve never heard of that before.”
When asked how he felt about his game average and bowling a 300 game, Knox said, “I feel pretty good. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I got a 300.”
Urbanski, who has worked in the West Orange school district for 33 years as a Driver’s Ed Theory teacher, has also coached baseball, football and golf for the Mountaineers and explained what makes bowling so unique.
“Bowling is a social activity, and you can start at a young age,” he said. “It’s more popular now than when I was in high school. We never had bowling teams or coaches like the kids now.”
Knox’s love of bowling began when he was four. His parents both bowled in leagues, but it was his father that brought the boy bowling each weekend. Knox took to it and joined the youth bowling group at Eagle Rock Lanes at the age of seven, bowling with young people up to the age of 15.
For the past several years, he has bowled regularly at Jersey Lanes in Linden, where he has access to up to 10 coaches. According to the district, several of his West Orange team members plan to join him there.
“The team is very close,” said Urbanski as Knox nodded in agreement. “Kieryn has definitely impacted the other players. They all want to improve and be even better. They enjoy a friendly competition.”
Urbanski added that West Orange has been “lucky to have had some great bowlers come through the program,” giving a nod to Class of 2014 Adam Reinstein and the 2014 conference championship bowling team.
Acknowledging that bowling has become such a popular high school sport, Know advised other aspiring bowlers to practice and to take a glimpse at some YouTube videos in order to improve.
“There are a lot of good videos, and a lot of professionals are making them too,” he said. “I check every day.”
Although only women’s bowling is currently played in the NCAA, several colleges offer bowling scholarships for men, including Wichita State University, University of Nebraska, New Jersey City University and Vanderbilt University.
Knox, who is a solid academic student and a member of the robotics club and automotive shop in addition to his participation on the bowling team, is working hard to get one of those scholarships and plans to study engineering in college.
One thing that is unique to Knox’s game is that he is a two-handed bowler. Two-handed bowling is a new style of release utilizing both hands to guide the bowling ball into a powerful throw with high revolutions or rotations of the ball around its axis, and powerful hooks. It’s a matter of player choice, but it has worked for him thus far.
Knox and his family reside in West Orange. He attended Mt. Pleasant Elementary School as well as Edison and Liberty Middle Schools. His younger sister is currently a student at Kelly Elementary.