Liz Kuhlkin is committed to perfection.
The Schalmont High School senior, who is practicing for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Bowling Championships, to be held March 5 in Syracuse, already wears several championship rings.
She was a member of last year’s Section II all-section all-star team that won the state title. Her Schalmont Sabres were unbeaten in the Colonial Council three years running.
Even more impressive are her two United States Bowling Congress national junior average titles. Her 228 average in the Sportsman’s Majors junior program last season was the best in the country, and she also topped the national junior bowlers the previous season with her 230 average in the Joey Schmidt Junior Pro-Scoring League.
Kuhlkin also already has five perfect games — all rolled this year — and two 800 triples to her credit.
Next fall, she will be off to perennial national collegiate champion Nebraska, where she has earned a scholarship. Maybe she can add to her championship collection with the Cornhuskers.
“I think my two best accomplishments were winning the national average award twice and receiving my scholarship to Nebraska,” said Kuhlkin. “It was so crazy to lead the country in average, but getting the scholarship to Nebraska is mind-blowing. It’s tough to choose between those two achievements.”
Ever since Kuhlkin was introduced to bowling at age 5 by her father, Mark, she has practically lived in the bowling center.
“I remember watching my father bowl at Sportsman’s Bowl when I was 5 years old,” she said. “My mom brought me to watch, and I was always interested. In fact, I still watch my father bowl every Monday night.”
Kuhlkin became even more involved with bowling when her game improved.
“When I was in ninth grade, I got my first reactive ball, and I rolled my first 700 triple,” she said. “That’s when I got a spot on the Schalmont varsity, and that’s when I thought I might be able to do something with the sport.”
Kuhlkin has dominated the weekly local junior bowling scoreboard and also excels in the Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League, which travels to a different bowling center each week. When her game became even more prolific, she thought about stepping up to the collegiate level.
“I saw Nebraska win the national championship on television,” she said. “Last year, I started to look for colleges that had bowling programs. My uncle, Matt, is a college recruiter at RPI, and my dad asked him if he could help us. My uncle initiated conversions with the Nebraska coach. We had to make a two-hour video of my bowling here at Sportsman’s Bowl. They were very specific what they wanted to see in the video. After we sent it, they liked what they saw, and that’s when we started talking about making a visit to campus.”
Kuhlkin eventually set up a college visit this year with Nebraska assistant coach Paul Klempa.
“I went to the campus, and I just loved it,” she said. “I was also looking at Fairleigh Dickinson and Adelphi, but I knew Nebraska was a Division I program, and I thought they would give me a better opportunity and open more doors.”
Kuhlkin said her visit to Nebraska was all that she could have hoped for.
“I went to a football game while I was there, and it was awesome,” she said. “They also have a lot of respect for the bowling team. At one game, they called the bowlers down to the field to receive their medals for winning the national championship. It’s a nice feeling to know how much they care about bowling there.”
Kuhlkin said she is a little nervous about living on such a huge campus.
“It’s a little nerve-racking. When I went there, you had to take a shuttle to all your classes. I’m just from little old Rotterdam,” she said.
“But I’m going there with my best friend, Becca Pratt [Lansingburgh], who is also on a bowling scholarship. We won’t be alone. Also, my parents are going to let me bring my car to campus. Freshmen can have cars on campus there.”
Kuhlkin, who bowls or works at a bowling center nearly every day, said her ultimate goal is to bowl professionally, but she’s a realist.
“I’ll have to see how things go in college,” she said. “I would love to try out for the pro tour. That’s always been a dream of mine. But if that doesn’t work out, I can see myself coming back home and bowling in leagues back here.”
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Categories: High School Sports