By Wayne Witkowski
Aimee Sherman enjoyed some perfect moments as she became Jackson Memorial High School’s first state champion girls’ bowler.
The senior, who is headed to Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) on a financial package, included the first 300 game bowled in the girls’ state championships, held Feb. 15 at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick. Sherman did it during the qualifying rounds and went on to beat Toms River High School North freshman Kamerin Peters in the stepladder finals, 194-192.
“I’m just happy to end my senior year like this,” said Sherman, who had the best average in the state during the season at 215.6. “I never in the past three years performed well in Carolier. This year, I made sure I came well prepared with my equipment and that I was mentally prepared.”
She used a Radical Ridiculous Asymmetrical “pin up” ball to get the best motion. The head of that company, Lou Mopinel, recommended the ball to Sherman while she was at a demo day for that product line last summer.
“He gave me pointers on my game and critiqued me, which enabled me to perfect my game,” Sherman said.
She also got some valuable pointers from Roxbury native Marianne Dirupo, who won 10 professional titles that included three “majors” on the women’s pro tour during the 1990s.
“She said to take it one shot at a time,” Sherman said. “She said it’s a mental game and I need to make my spares. It was the best advice I ever got.”
Sherman said she has struggled making spares the past three years, which led to her falling short of reaching the state finals last year. But she improved on that greatly this season, which she said has keyed her success.
“Her state championship is the greatest thing I’ve seen in my years of coaching,” Jackson Memorial girls’ bowling coach Brian Tart said. “It’s poetic justice. She works harder than anyone I’ve seen. She proves that if you put in the time, you’ll succeed, and she does that.”
“I’m at the bowling alley way more than most,” said Sherman, who also bowls in two leagues at Ocean Lanes in Lakewood — a Saturday Morning Trio with two teammates from Brick Township and an Adult/Youth League on Sunday morning, where she averages 222.
Sherman said she has been inspired by and keeps in regular touch with her cousin, Jessica (Worsley) Bond, a former Brick Memorial High School star who went on to excel at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, which made the NCAA Division I national finals when she was there. Bond told Sherman that bowling for a collegiate national powerhouse strengthened her game.
“Going to FDU is the best chance of improving my game,” Sherman said, as the college in recent years won two national championships. “During my visit, I just loved the campus, which is small and older, but everyone knows each other. The girls on the bowling team there talked so highly of how the school loved their team.”
Sherman will head there with the best credentials. She clinched her title against Peters in the 10th frame when she dropped a 10-pin for a spare and then toppled nine pins on the next ball. Peters, who took her turn after Sherman, came back in the 10th with three strikes but still fell short.
“In the eighth frame, she missed a spare. That’s when I knew I’d win,” Sherman said.
Sherman lost to Peters in the Shore Conference Tournament finals.
“Normally, my A game is [standing] farther outside than most people,” Sherman said of her delivery of the ball. “I don’t usually move in to the left to hook the ball. If I came up high, I knew I had to move inside and swing the ball [more].”
Sherman got to the stepladder finals by beating bowling companion and Brick Township High School standout Julanna Forbes, 247-233, in her first stepladder match. Forbes got off to a slow start but closed the gap by hitting strikes in the fourth through 10th frames.
Sherman got to the stepladder finals with a boost from the second 300 game of her bowling career — the other in her Sunday morning league at Ocean Lanes.
She bowled a 750 in the first qualifying round of the state championships off games of 214, 290 and 246 and then started her second qualifying round with the 300. On the 11th strike, the 10-pin fell very late.
“That was a little scary,” Sherman said.
Although the Jaguars struggled a bit as a team, Sherman feels they will make strides without her next season.
“The main thing is to go out and have fun, to enjoy the time, and to practice,” she said. “With the younger bowlers coming up, bowling has diminished. I used to see so many kids bowling. I tell any kids with the drive to bowl to stick with it and be the best you can be.”