Amy Caruso’s ability to overcome nerves and rise to the occasion in the clutch enabled her to defend her Greater Middlesex Conference title.
The South Brunswick High School junior qualified as the fourth seed for the stepladder finals with a 1,232 six-game block before winning four consecutive games to claim her second consecutive individual championship.
“What’s amazing about her is really her ability to handle the pressure of the situation,” South Brunswick coach Tara Burniston said. “She just is very calm. Her whole body language resonates very calm and determined. She knows what she has to do.”
Caruso, who is the Home News Tribune’s Greater Middlesex Conference Bowler of the Year, had the most complete and balanced season of any league competitor.
Her 207.86 regular-season average was the conference’s second highest. In addition, she placed ninth in the NJSIAA Individual Tournament with a 1,274 pinfall. Caruso also placed 17th in Central Jersey with a 568 series.
Burniston said she believes the key to Caruso’s success has been her ability to come through under pressure.
“Obviously she is nervous on the inside,” Burniston said, “but she keeps a very calm façade. A lot of bowling is muscle memory, and I really think she can keep her body in check, which does help her a lot.”
Caruso remains as calm rolling the first ball of a non-competitive match as she does while needing to mark in the final frame of a tournament.
“There’s no defense in bowling,” Burniston said. “You can’t stop the other person from bowling well. If they bowl well, you have to do better. A lot of it is just purely how much you can (mentally) prepare yourself.”
Caruso served as South Brunswick’s anchor in tournaments. She helped lead the Vikings to a third consecutive GMC title and third consecutive GMC Red Division championship. Caruso has always put the team before her individual accomplishments. During the GMC Tournament, she led the Vikings to the team title with the highest game and highest set.
South Brunswick’s lone senior is Brianne Font, another All-GMC selection, meaning the Vikings will remain the team to beat again next year. Caruso’s ability to lead by example sets the tone for the team.
“She is extremely consistent,” said Burniston of Caruso. “Did she have a game here or there that she’d rather not have? Probably one or two for the entire season. But everything else is just a consistently solid game.”
During the Old Bridge/Carteret Baker Tournament and the Joe Romer Baker Tournament, Caruso was unable to mark in only one or two frames, Burniston said, noting the junior was unable to convert a split.
“Every frame she needed to cover,” Burniston said, “she was just consistent. That was very impressive to see.”