T.J. York wasn’t nervous until the final frames of the United States Bowling Congress Individual Singles Championships. After four games, York sat in second place, and he knew the top seven finishers would advance to the national championships.
“I said to myself, â€˜As long as I can grind it out,'” York, a Norridgewock native, said. “I was a little bit nervous, because I knew I had a shot.”
A senior at Viterbo University of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, York finished in fifth place in a field of approximately 200 bowlers at the sectionals on the 14th, and earned a spot in the national collegiate championships. York will compete in the United States Bowling Congress singles championship in Reno, Nevada, on April 14.
“You’re there to bowl your best and let the scores speak for themselves,” York said.
At the sectional tournament in Addison, Ill., York bowled six games. He bowled a 246 in his first game to get off to a strong start, and York followed that with a 209 in game two. He bowled a 211 in game three. Game four was the second-best of the day for York, a 234. He ended the competition with 204 and 208 in his final two games.
For the tournament, York’s average was 218.6
“I was staying consistent,” York said. “I was getting my spares… The first game, I didn’t throw the ball good, but I still struck the pins.”
Consistency is the biggest improvement York has seen in his game during his four years at Viterbo. In competition with the V-Hawks this season, his average is just under 200. In his league, York’s average is 235.
“My form’s gotten better, and that’s helped my consistency,” York said.
Working with Nick Heilman, a former assistant coach at Viterbo and a member of York’s bowling league, has helped York with the technical aspects of the sport.
“(Heilman) knows our equipment. He knows how to read the lane patterns, and that’s huge,” York said.
The national championship will be York’s second trip to Reno in April. He’ll be in the Biggest Little City in the World for another tournament the week before nationals, although that tournament will be played at different lanes. York said time constraints will keep him from playing any games on the championship lanes during his first visit to Reno. His parents, Tom and Peggy York, attended the sectionals and will also travel to Reno, York said, along with his grandparents.
A Business Administration major, York will graduate from Viterbo this spring. He plans on returning to Maine to work at Motor Supply Company, his family’s business. Professional bowling is not something York has considered.
“People always ask me that,” York said. “You’ve got to put it in perspective. There’s a lot of really good bowlers out here.”