Tim Wolchko doesn't want to be considered a revolutionary. Yet what he's accomplished in winning the New Jersey high school bowling championship is still a significant step toward proving someone can still thrive even while ignoring all unwanted technical advice sent their away.
That's because Wolchko, an Egg Harbor (N.J.) Township High junior, just won his state's high school bowling championship while using a bizarre, two-handed technique that looks more like a first grader at his local lanes than a competitive teenager who takes part in at least three bowling leagues at a time.
"It just feels right," Wolchko told the Newark Star-Ledger. "It's my form. It's how I bowl.
"People are always asking, 'Whoa, how do you do that? Is it comfortable?' I just tell them it's how I've been bowling since I was 4 or 5 years old."
With each roll down the lanes, Wolchko uncorks a strange motion that starts with two fingers of his right hand inserted into the holes for the bowling ball, covering the thumb hole with his right hand. He then lets go of the ball with thrust coming from his left hand, using his right fingers to lightly guide the ball's trajectory while his left arm powers it forward.
The strange technique has served the junior well, with eight perfect games and his 237 in the state finals serving as testament to the fact that he can compete with the best, despite what most consider to be amateurish form.
One of the inspiration's for Wolchko's success has been his father, Bill Wolchko, who was a successful prep bowler himself at Saint Peter's (N.J.) Prep. When the elder Wolchko first took his son bowling at age 4 and 5, other bowlers would ask him when he planned to help teach his son proper technique.
Bill Wolchko's response is indicative of his son's approach to competing today.
"What is the right way?" the elder Wolchko told the Star-Ledger. "As long as you stay behind the line and knock down the pins, that's the way to do it."
That's precisely what the teenager is doing these days, all while influencing other young bowlers who watch him succeed from afar. The Star-Ledger found at least one young bowler who said he has become a two-handed bowler because he saw Wolchko's delivery and was immediately fascinated with how different it looked.
While fellow Egg Harbor resident Matthew Stevens may have tried two-handed bowling out of curiosity, he's stuck with the technique because he's been successful with it.
"It started at my brother's birthday party, and Tim was there," Stevens told the Star-Ledger. "I saw his style, watched him, and I tried it out. And it really did work."
If it keeps working for Wolchko, there's no telling where it might take him. There is already one two-handed bowler on the Professional Bowling Association tour -- 27-year-old Jason Belmonte -- and Wolchko absolutely believes he could join him one day.
"I was one of those kids who didn't want to go with the crowd," Wolchko said. "I wanted to bring my own unique style into how I bowl.
"And if it's working, it's working."
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