NA’s Keefe wins NJSIAA state sectional bowling crown

Photo courtesy the Keefe family North Arlington junior bowler Tyler Keefe.
Photo courtesy the Keefe family
North Arlington junior bowler Tyler Keefe.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

It’s safe to say that Tyler Keefe was born to be a successful bowler.

After all, his father, the late James Warger, was a member of the Pro Bowlers Tour before he died in 2006.

And Keefe’s grandparents have a storied history in the sport. In fact, Keefe’s grandmother, Linda Rose Keefe, is a member of the Bowling Hall of Fame. Keefe’s grandfather, David, is also a long-time successful bowler.

“They taught me everything I know,” said Tyler Keefe, a junior at North Arlington High School. “What can I say? Bowling was pretty much in my blood. My grandmother was the first woman in New Jersey to throw a 300 and get an 800 series. I was very blessed to have them in my family.”

Keefe started bowling at a very early age, but he was never one to take the ball twohanded and push it down the lanes.

“I was always one-handed, even with the plastic ball,” Keefe said. “And my grandfather made sure that there were absolutely no bumpers. I was always bowling on a regular basis. When I was 12 or 13, I realized I was getting pretty good and could be a bowler for a very long time.”

Keefe first enrolled as a freshman at Howell High School, where he participated in varsity bowling and put up an average of 190.

But then the family moved to North Arlington, where his grandparents already resided.

“I would always come up here during the summer and practiced bowling with my grandparents,” Keefe said.

He also made friends at the bowling lanes, especially Jordan Lopez, one of the top bowlers at nearby Lyndhurst and the defending Bergen County champion.

“We’re all very friendly and everyone cheers for each other,” Keefe said. “Jordan and I are good friends.”

Keefe had to sit out half of last season after transferring to North Arlington, bowling in only 10 games late in the season.

“I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help my team,” Keefe said. “It was very disappointing.”

So Keefe was determined to have a solid junior campaign. He worked on his game to improve.

“No one is perfect,” Keefe said. “You’re always working to get better. I practiced and practiced until I found a technique that was good for me. I had to work on my release. I have a very high backswing, so I lowered it a little. I was very aggressive with my backswing, so I smoothed it out a little.”

Keefe was certain that this was going to be his year.

“I told Jordan that I was going to have a good high school year,” Keefe said. “I worked hard to get what I could.” A few weeks ago, Keefe thought he had enough to win the Bergen County championship at Bowler City in Hackensack.

“I felt confident going in, but I left a big split in the last game,” Keefe said. “It was a big letdown. I was really upset.”

Keefe lost the county title by just five pins. A spare in that frame would have been enough to carry Keefe to the crown.

“I was so upset that I lost,” Keefe said. “It was just five pins. I wanted to come back and show everyone that I was the best bowler in the county.”

“Coming into the season, I knew that Tyler was one of the better bowlers in the county,” North Arlington coach Dan Farinola said. “I think he took something away from being second in the county tournament. He’s been a consistent bowler.”

A week after the county tournament, Keefe returned to Bowler City for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1A, Group I tournament. He rolled a 776 series with a high game of 279 to capture the gold medal at the state sectional.

For his efforts, Keefe has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Farinola believes that Keefe has the perfect demeanor for a champion.

“He’s a great sportsman,” Farinola said. “He’s a happy kid who cheers for everyone. He gets along with everyone. I think that helps him relax as a bowler.”

Keefe is also a baseball player at North Arlington. He was a shortstop on the junior varsity last year and hopes to be a varsity player when the season begins in April.

Keefe maintained a 212 average this season. He keeps a similar average in the New Jersey Junior Bowling Tour, which he is a member and competes all year round.

He still is enjoying his state sectional crown.

“It’s a great feeling,” Keefe said. “There’s been no better feeling. To finish second in the county and then come back to win the sectional makes it all feel better.” Keefe said that he wasn’t competing against his friends. “It’s just me against the pins,” Keefe said. “That’s how I look at it. I love Bowler City. I always seem to find a line that fits me there. I can’t answer why. I guess I have a positive mindset.”

Keefe just recently finished seventh overall in the state last Wednesday.

He admits to having bowled a 299 game last year, but knows that a perfect game will eventually happen. After all, Keefe just turned 17 on Feb. 15.

“I’m actually very confident for next year,” Keefe said. “My confidence is very high right now. I’m very proud of myself.”

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