Lyndhurst bowling: Dominance at state sectional

Emily Young rolls top series facing boys’ competition

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports

Writer After losing in the Bergen County Bowling Tournament to Indian Hills two weeks ago, the Lyndhurst bowling team was on a mission.

“We were a little motivated,” said senior Jordan Lopez.

“They were disappointed in themselves after that tournament,” said Lyndhurst second-year head coach Brianna Balkin. “They were out for redemption.”

At the NJSIAA North 1A sectional championships Saturday at Bowler City in Hackensack, the Golden Bears were unconscious, setting a new record for total score of 3,490 – or a per-player average of 233 – capturing the North 1A title for a fourth consecutive year.

The Golden Bears were led by a girl, namely Emily Young, who rolled both the high game of the day (268) and high series (759), but had nothing to show for it, because rules state that a girl cannot win the boys’ sectional. Talk about your gender inequality.

“I would have to admit I was a bit upset by it,” Young said. “But at the same time, I got bragging rights. No one could ever think that a girl could actually win the sectional.”

“She just wanted to finish among the top five and then see what could happen,” Balkin said. “But then the whole place went nuts when she rolled her highest game ever. I remember saying, ‘Oh my God, she’s going to win the whole thing.’ ”

No one could have ever dreamed that a girl would beat all the boys in attendance at a state sectional championship. But that’s what happened. Young, who won the Bergen County girls’ tournament back on Wednesday, Jan. 21, just kept throwing strikes with her different release form.

Instead of throwing the ball down the center of the lane, Young directs the ball to have an alternate backward swing from right to left. It’s not a conventional way of bowling, but it obviously works. “I definitely did not expect to win,” said Young, who also plays on the Lyndhurst volleyball team in the fall. “It was really impressive. I have to admit that I was a little upset that I didn’t get a chance to win many things in volleyball. But now, I have bragging rights, especially with the boys.”

Young rolled a 268-244-257- 769 series to card the best outing of the day by anyone, boy or girl.

“She rolled a 268, which was her highest game ever,” Balkin said. “I said, ‘She’s going to win the whole thing.’ And she did just that. I moved her to the lead-off slot and that worked, because she carried the team throughout. The boys all love her and wanted to do well behind her.”

James Kane of Paramus Catholic was second, but at 748 some 21 pins behind Young.

“It was the best day of her career,” Balkin said. “She’s been bowling great for us, but this was pretty special.”

But Young got nothing to show for her brilliant day.

“I guess they never thought a girl could actually win it,” Young said.

The Golden Bears rolled a commanding 1,233 to win the first game overall, with Young’s 268 leading the way. In fact, all five Lyndhurst bowlers shot over 200 in the first game. Daijon Smith was next with a score of 259, followed by Lopez’s score of 258. Ryan Donohue finished fourth with a 244 and Richard Sawires finished off the brigade with a 204.

Lopez was second with a 728 series. Smith was fourth with 716 and Donohue rolled a 667. It was pure domination.

“I’ve been in bowling leagues my whole life and I never saw anything like that before,” Balkin said. “All five kids rolled three strikes in the 10th frame. I never saw that before on any level, never mind high school, not from five kids. It was amazing.”

The Golden Bears just continued with the dominance all day, setting a new sectional total pin record in the process.

“They just wanted to beat everyone in the building,” Balkin said. “They were so upset after the county that they were not about to let it happen again. It’s really impressive. That’s a lot of pins. I’ve seen people bowl in leagues and can’t come close to that score. They were out to show everyone how good they really are. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It’s an amazing group. They all wanted to do so well.”

After it was over, Balkin stopped to reflect on the Golden Bears’ fourth straight state sectional title.

“Did that really happen?” Balkin asked. “It really was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

The Golden Bears move on to the overall Group I state championships Friday at Carolier Lanes in East Brunswick.

“It feels like maybe this could be the year for us to win it all,” said Lopez, who joined Young as members of all four state sectional champions.

“We’re going in with a big confidence boost.” “We’re all bowling well and that works out well for everyone,” Young said. “Everyone pushes each other to do better.”

Lopez, Smith and Donohue, all of whom have already bowled perfect games in their careers, also qualified as individuals for the state championships Wednesday, where Young will compete with and against the girls. All of Lyndhurst’s bowlers return Friday for the team championships.

North Arlington also qualified for Friday’s team championship with a 2,858 pin performance, moving on to the state finals for the first time since 2010.

The Observer Staff