Michael Weyl of Mililani rallied past Shaine Fujii of Pearl City to capture the boys individual bowling title at the Billy Tees/HHSAA Bowling State Championships on Friday at Leeward Bowl.
Freshman Samantha Kanehailua of Pearl City led from the first game on Thursday and captured the girls individual crown with a total pin count of 1,504 (188 per game).
Weyl finished with an eight-game, two-day total of 1,612 pins (201 average), 101 ahead of runner-up Noah Akiona of Kamehameha. Fujii, who led after the first day, finished third with 1,505. Weyl grew up with the game, rolling away at Schofield Bowling Center as a tyke as his grandfather, Phillip Weyl Sr., managed multiple leagues over the decades.
“I feel relieved. I had a lot, going into these three games, I had a lot of weight on my shoulders,” he said.
Multiple coaches noted that it was a tough challenge on the lanes for all bowlers. It was the kind scenario that Weyl relishes. A bowler since he was 5, Weyl enjoys deciphering oil patterns. Problem solving.
Two years ago, the state tournament was in Lihue, where the oil pattern was more generic, less challenging. Weyl finished fifth with a 1,781 pin total, but those lanes were far more friendly to keglers.
“This pattern was a lot harder than up in Kauai. It really challenges the mental game and separates the guys who have been practicing and working hard,” he said.
Weyl trailed Fujii by 17 pins after Thursday’s first set, 1,024-1,007. With three games left in the final set on Friday, Weyl got a good night’s rest. Fujii said he felt a little pressure.
Weyl then scored 193 and 189 in his first two games on Friday, then finished with a 223 game.
“It started out a little slow in the third game, but then I kept my spares going. The last four, five frames, I struck and I got the spare in the 10th,” he said.
On Thursday, Fujii was fairly consistent with 192, 192 and 225 to start the day. Weyl was volatile with a 223, 145 and 225. After a 167 in Thursday’s second set, he rolled a 247 to close the gap.
Both Weyl and Fujii admit they glance at each other’s scores during the action.
“Usually, I keep track of what he’s doing,” said Fujii, who had a 215 and a 200 to close out on Thursday. “Today, he wasn’t bowling amazing, but he was bowling more consistent. I was up and down.”
“That’s one of my problems,” Weyl added. “I look at the scores. I like to know if I have any margin of error, but that also messes me up mentally because if I don’t succeed in getting, I might start to panic or worry.”
After a roller coaster ride on Thursday, Weyl slept well – with none of his usual nightmares about being a minute late for a tournament and being disqualified — and was on time for the 7:15 a.m. start on Friday.
“I just tried to keep a lot more calm. I had a better idea of how transition was going to be after the first game. I just tried to keep the spares going because (Thursday), I was missing a little bit,” Weyl said.
The oil pattern on Friday was different, which Weyl has said he likes.
“Today felt a little drier. The transition happened a little quicker. I had to pretty much to move my feet quicker to the left than I did (Thursday), at a much faster rate.”
Fujii had a slow start to begin the season and gained momentum going into states. Weyl wasn’t the only kegler to notice the change on the lanes Friday.
“Today was rough. It was a lot different than yesterday,” Fujii said. “The oil pattern was a little bit different and I felt like there was a little bit more pressure since I was in first.”
After posting a 204 average on Thursday through six games, Fujii finished at 188. His final-day scores: 158, 181, 142. Weyl, the technician, went 193, 189, 223.
“It’s all right,” Fujii said. “I’m a little upset that I didn’t get first, but my team ended up winning states.”
Fujii has a 3.7 grade-point average and hopes to bowl in college. Weyl embraced the battles with Fujii, who placed second at states two years ago.
“This year is, oh, him and me butting heads, I was always worried. He put the pressure on me every game,” Weyl said. “It’s always good, keeps you striving for the better result.”
Weyl already has an application submitted to Webber International University, one of the premier bowling programs in the nation. He has a 3.4 GPA.
“I’m still trying hard to get in there,” he said.
Kanehailua, the clutch kid, grew up playing in Leeward Bowl. Her auntie is one of the managers, but reading the oil patterns and adjusting on the fly is no simple feat. On the final day, the Charger rolled 192, 191 and 207 to finish with a 1,504 pin count.
“I think she has a good potential to win the next three years,” Weyl said. “She has a solid game and if she keeps up with evolving her technique, she’ll do great things.”
Friday began early at Leeward Bowl with a 7:15 a.m. start for the boys. Weyl, who eats steak three times a week thanks to his grandfather’s culinary skill, got his pre-event caloric boost from good, ol’ Mickey D’s.
“I had a McGriddle. The sausage,” he said. “Especially when I wake up early, it’s good to get McDonald’s.”
Phillip Weyl Sr. was busy coaching Leilehua’s boys and girls during the tournament. He and his youngest grandson chatted for a moment through the busy day. No hugs, though.
“No. He said, ‘Congrats. Good job,’” Weyl said.
He won’t forget his Trojan mentors and coaches.
“I’d like to shout out Coach Corey (Zukeran) and coach Jody (Yamamoto). Those two really helped me throughout these two days, kept my mental in check, got the job done,” he said.