CORTLANDT MANOR – When Panas freshman Nick Perrone decided to bowl competitively as a child, he was initially met with some pushback from outsiders. It’s not that the 7-year-old wanted to bowl, it’s that he wanted to do it two-handed.
“A lot of people did kind of say, ‘You really shouldn’t do that if you want to get far. You should bowl one-handed. It would be a lot better,’” he said. “I never really felt comfortable with (the one-handed delivery). I did try it out, I just never liked it.”
Perrone wasn’t a rebellious child, just a small one. While the two-handed delivery was unconventional to most at the time, it made the game manageable for the pint-sized Perrone.
“I was really small, so I really had a hard time bowling with one hand because I wasn’t really strong enough,” said Perrone, 15, who now stands 5-foot-4. “I just took up two-handed and it felt comfortable and I never looked back from there.”
Acceptance came only after success. Although just a freshman, Perrone recently completed his third season on the Panthers’ varsity squad. His progress has been indisputable.
A respectable average in the mid-170’s his first year spiked into the mid-190’s last year. “Something clicked” this year, he said, leading to a county-high 219 average, a guaranteed spot at the state tournament, and Journal News Westchester/Putnam boys bowler of the year honors.
He is the first two-hander to be named bowler of the year by the Journal News.
“Last year at sectionals, a lot of the kids who I knew, they made states and they said how fun it was and how it was just a great experience and a great time, so that was my goal: I wanted to make states,” Perrone said. “Whatever I had to do to get to states, that was kind of my main (goal).”
Bowlers can earn a trip to the state tournament in one of three ways: Being one of the top three averages in the section, which is how Perrone earned his spot; winning the Section 1 tournament as a team; or finishing among the top three individuals at sections.
Perrone’s trip to Buffalo was already secured, but that didn’t stop the two-handed phenom from tearing up the lanes at Fishkill Bowl.
Perrone fired a 260 game out of the gate and finished with a 1,314 series for the six-game tournament. While he matched his season average for the day, Perrone averaged over 231 for all but one game — a 157 blemish to open the afternoon block.
When he arrived in Buffalo, there were no signs of a struggle on the lanes. The freshman averaged 217.5 for six games, ranging from 197 to 237, en route to a fourth-place overall finish and all-state honors.
“It was very eye-opening, the competition that is just in New York alone,” he said.
With three years of high school left, Perrone isn’t sure what the sport has in store for him down the road; he just knows it will be a part of his future in some capacity.
“Bowling is something that I feel will always be there,” he said. “Whether or not I go on tour, or (into) coaching or whatever, I’m not really sure, but it’s definitely something that will always there and I’ll always want to do.”
The rest of the Journal News first team includes:
David Halperin, Lakeland: Another two-handed bowler, Halperin posted the third-highest average in the section with a 210.76.
Matt Meyers, Yorktown: A bowler who converted from a one-handed delivery to the two-handed style, Meyers averaged 213.30 during the year to qualify for states in his final season after John Jay-East Fishkill won the team event and freed up a high average spot.
Alex Melnychuk, John Jay: Melnychuk followed up a strong regular season, in which he averaged 209, with a 1,215 series at the Section 1 tournament.
Chris O’Connell, Yorktown: The junior was solid all season, averaging 209.55 during the year and shooting 1,262 at sections — the second-highest series among county bowlers, behind Perrone.
Coach of the year
Santa Trawick, Panas
Paul Cerillo, Lakeland
Tom Collins, Rye Neck
Chris Fragano, Mahopac
Daniel Kirstein, Panas
Joe Rohle, Yorktown