Sometimes an athlete makes a change and everything clicks.
That’s exactly what happened to bowler Nick Walker recently. The Sachem East junior has been using a Roto Grip Hustle Au bowling ball the past few seasons. Then he remembered he had a second, brand new Hustle Au ball drilled differently two months ago.
"I hadn’t thrown it, and I thought I should," he said. "Then I used it and got into the zone."
Zone? Walker threw a 300 game as part of an 800-plus series at a practice on Feb. 11, and tossed three straight games of 277 for an eye-popping 831 series the next day in a Suffolk League IV win against East Hampton. The 831 series is tied for the ninth-best series (boys or girls) in state high school bowling history according to state records.
"After my first 800 [series at practice] I became a lot more comfortable with [the new ball]," said Walker, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. "It’s like I got my best friend back again."
The righthander continued his amazing stretch by winning the Suffolk Single/Doubles boys tournament on Wednesday with a 1,316 total for six games (219.3 average).
"As a bowler, watching him throw [three games of 277] like that, it was incredible," Sachem coach Brian Weinstein said. "If he was a golfer, it would be like hitting 30 great shots in a row . . . When he was ‘on’ the other day, I said, ‘These pins have no chance.’ "
Weinstein, who has coached a team in Sachem since 2004, has had the good fortune of Walker participating on the varsity for five seasons.
"You could always tell — even as a seventh grader — he was good," Weinstein said. "You always knew he was going to get better."
Walker certainly has been better each year. He had a 174 average in just seven games during the 2016-17 season. He had a 202.83 average as an eighth grader and a 203.4 as a freshman. Walker went 36-6 last season with a 210.24 average. He is currently fifth overall in Suffolk in average (223.25) and tops in League IV.
"When he’s locked in — not a lot of things get in his way," Weinstein said. "He’s just a pin wrecker."
Walker and his teammates are focusing on the Suffolk championships next Sunday at Bowlero Sayville. The event is of greater importance since the state canceled all high school winter championships.
"I just want to keep this up, and continue to move forward," said Walker, who utilizes a big hook on his throws. "I want to keep throwing this [new] ball as much as possible."
And keep things clicking.