Junior sensation Matt Reynolds talks mentality, tournaments, and bowling

Anthony Malta, News Editor

Matt Reynolds didn’t know he was good at bowling. It was an entertaining thing to do with his friends, not a competitive sport. Right? 


Wrong. The junior brought his game to the next level during this year’s sectionals and state tournaments, finishing fourth in the state and bowling one point short of a perfect 300. I sat down with him on Monday Feb. 28 to talk about his performance.  


Anthony Malta: What made you decide to join the bowling team?


Matt Reynolds: Honestly, my friends. I had a couple of friends that were [bowling] so it was something to do with them and I didn’t really have much to deal with during the winter season so I thought it would just be fun to pick up. I mean, it seemed more mellow, more chilled out compared to other sports like basketball or winter track. I didn’t think I would ever get this far. So I was just kind of doing it for fun.


AM: When did you realize that bowling was going to become serious for you?


MR: So, I joined a league outside of school and I was just talking to a bunch of other kids there and seeing how much they like [bowling]. You get rings issued for bowling three-hundreds and stuff like that. And I just kind of thought, “If I put in practice and just get really good, I can hopefully be a state champion one year and get a lot of scholarship money — get a full ride scholarship.”


AM: What has been your favorite part of Bowling for Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School so far?


MR: Definitely the social aspect of it. Not only on the team, but also I have made a lot of really close connections to kids from other schools that I bowl with or against. 


AM: What was preparation like for the bowling team heading into the sectionals and state tournaments?


MR: So for sectionals we just had a little bit of a team practice with the couple kids bowling in the sectional tournament. But there’s not much preparation. I know for me personally, I just kind of just relax, you know, because it does get nerve-racking when you’re bowling in the sectional tournament with 225 bowlers. So it’s, it’s a lot. And then [for] the state tournament, we honestly had no expectations. We never thought we would make it to the state tournament, so we were just super excited about it. Unfortunately you know, we didn’t do so well. We finished probably about 20th out of the top 45 in the state. We didn’t do much preparation, but we also didn’t have too many expectations for ourselves. We just wanted to have fun with it.


AM: Were you satisfied with your experience in the tournaments?


MR: Yeah, absolutely. I think not putting too much pressure on myself definitely helped me progress and get as far as I did in the sectional and state tournaments. I ended up having a 299 and having the highest series at sectionals. So I won the sectional, the plaque that you get out of like 225 people, which made me qualify for states, where I finished fourth in the state.


AM: How does that make you feel?


MR: It was definitely an accomplishment. Like I said, you know, going into this I didn’t think I would ever get this far because I was just doing it for fun. Realizing that I still have another year left to try and get even better and just kind of progress more — I mean, I’m excited for next year.


AM: During the match, you know, when you realized that you were bowling a perfect game: how were you feeling? What was your thought process?


MR: The nerves were definitely there. It’s very nerve-racking. The lanes around you and the people just stop and the whole place kind of goes silent [when everyone is aware of the perfect game], which is obviously very nerve-racking. But, a couple times before I’ve had 10 strikes in a row, 11 strikes in a row. I actually had 298 as well. So I was definitely not as pressured as I was the first time around. But the nerves are still there. You know, your heart’s beating, the adrenaline is crazy. I felt like I really had a shot at 300 in the last frame. I really had a good shot. My ball reaction, the way the ball curves into the pins, was really nice. I felt very confident after every shot. The nerves kind of went away in the tenth frame. But yeah, the last shot was a pretty good shot and just one pin was left so I was pretty upset. However, a 299 is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. 


AM: Do you have a plan to practice in the offseason?


MR: Well I do a league year-round with a couple of my friends but, you know, I might just go once in a while to just bowl a couple games. The physical aspect of bowling isn’t really there compared to other sports; it’s more a mental fortitude than a physical strain. I’m super excited for next season. I think we have a really good team. I think we have a chance at winning counties and maybe sectionals as well, so I’m hoping for the best. I think we’ll do really well next season.