The discipline of timing.
The mindfulness of consistency.
The ridonkulous collection of elite bowling balls and shoes that go with a two-time, sanctioned-300 score kingpin.
Michael Weyl has all of the above, but his mind is on two goals, plus one.
1. Mililani defending its boys bowling state championship.
2. Winning the boys individual state title.
There’s the dream, of course. Weyl hopes to be accepted to Webber International University in Florida, where all the cool bowling technology is. With a 3.4 grade-point average and an obsessive attention to bowling technique and mechanics, the senior could be an optimal addition to the WIU Warriors squad.
Beyond that, he is a learner and teacher. He just isn’t an official coach yet, not at this age. Weyl is the subject of Tuesday’s prep feature in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Raised by his grandparents, Philip and Yoneko Weyl, his playhouse is a bowling alley. Philip Sr. has run youth and adult leagues at Schofield Bowling Center for decades. Yoneko also worked there for years before retiring in 2010, though she continues to bowl twice a week. Philip Sr. taught his youngest grandson all he knows, “just the basics,” he says. Michael added to that over the years, and his high backswing is one of the few minor discrepancies between elder and not-so-elder.
So far, so good. Early in the OIA season, Weyl already has a high series of 674 and a high game of 267. Trojans coach Corey Zukeran has no problem with the mechanics of that backswing.
“I’ve always known his family. His grandpa’s been coaching junior bowling since before time,” Zukeran said. “Michael is very smooth. He does come from a bowling family. Over the four years (at Mililani) he’s really worked hard at his game. That’s kind of why he’s seeing the fruits of all that hard work he’s put in.”
Michael could have found the sport less than interesting, but he embraced it from the start, before he was in elementary school. His devotion — and success — in the game comes with some modest rewards. Family and friends help with the life of a young, promising bowler, from trips to gear.
The collection of bowling balls, a dozen in all, is practical and a testament to Weyl’s understanding of the dynamics of a lane, the oil patterns, the biophysics and geometry of one bowler, one ball, one lane and 10 pins.
He brings six balls, each 15 pounds, to every game. Yes, the days of spinning a used Brunswick at the local alley don’t compare to what young keglers have at their disposal today — even as houses have shut down left and right across Oahu.
Weyl’s rotation has a core of four spheres.
“The oldest is about a year out. New balls come out every three, four months. I start with a ball called Zen. It’s teal, purple and black. It’s (made) by 900 Global,” Weyl said. “If the lanes are a little bit or a lot more oil, I’ll go to something stronger, my Obsession.”
The Obsession is pink and black, manufactured by Hammer. It is also the ball that hooks most.
“If the lanes are a lot drier, I’ll use something weaker, a Web Tour (by Hammer). It’s not as strong as the other two balls, so it’s a lot more controllable,” he said. “The Web would be the least hooking, the most round-shaped. It’s not going to be as snappy in the back (of the lane).”
When he wants that snappy action, the Phaze II by Storm goes to work.
“It’s a benchmark ball, stronger than the Zen and the Web, but still controllable in the back of the lane. Easier to manipulate,” Weyl said.
Philip Sr. supports the arsenal. Each new ball costs roughly $170.
“He’s used Brunswicks, and now Storm. His father was sponsored by Brunswick and he would get the extra one. Now Jody’s been helping him since his dad (Philip Jr.) went to Korea,” Philip Sr. said.
The print feature story in the Star-Advertiser shares Philip Sr.’s memory of the penultimate moment of their 2018 high school season. Philip Sr., a longtime coach at Leilehua, saw his team up by 60 pins. Michael, bowling for Mililani, came up with a 299 to push the Trojans to the OIA championship.
When a family spends this much time together in SBC, bowling isn’t just fun. It is a form of connection with a pulse of its own. But when Weyl decided to stay in his neighborhood and attend Mililani, he had a schism of mechanics during sophomore year in 2019.
After years of succeeding at a game that came so naturally to him, nothing felt right for the first time. Jody Yamamoto, an assistant coach at Mililani, helped Weyl recalibrate. They broke down his swing, inch by inch. He went from a five-step approach to a four-step. The meticulous work did wonders.
“Something was a little bit off. I had to try and figure out a way to get back. Coach Jody helped me out trying to get me back to that point. The main thing was my physical game. He helped get my swing back in place, a better position. Working on timing, getting my rhythm back in shape,” Weyl said.
The recalibration had an astounding effect. At states in Lihue, Weyl was in second place after one set with a 703 pin total. After the second set, he was third at 1,140. The sophomore finished fifth overall at 1,781 pins. It was almost a minor miracle. The video analysis, the mechanical breakdown, the patience. Everything mattered.
“My rhythm is way better. I’ve been able to get pretty much correct timing, better than any point of my bowling career. It has helped me to be very consistent,” he said.
The only other sophomore to finish ahead of Weyl was Pearl City’s Shaine Fujii. Fujii had started slowly, but caught fire with a 780 series (three games) at one point and nearly caught eventual champion Tylan Kim-Arellano of Kapolei. Fujii lost by four pins. Weyl, 64 pins behind Kim-Arellano, was as amazed as the rest of the field.
“Shane went lights out. Everybody was astounded. To shoot 780 even if the (oil) pattern is easy, you really have to be consistent,” Weyl said.
This season, though, has been fairly dry in terms of fluid, consistent bowling. Weyl has been an exception, though he knows he won’t be alone by the time the Billy Tees/HHSAA State Bowling Championships begins on Dec. 9 at Leeward Bowl.
“Shane’s not doing as well. I think by the end of the season he should start shooting some good scores. He’s the one I can keep my mind on, what he did sophomore year to finish second,” Weyl said.
He’s grateful. He thanks his grandparents. His coaches, Zukeran and Yamamoto, all the folks who have eased the challenges of bowling life in a pandemic. He has the dream. Webber International. There may be a Plan B, but Webber is Weyl’s bucket list and goal wrapped in one.
“It would be a lifetime experience. To be able to go to that college and experience that training center would be very great,” he said. “I’m still working on details. I just sent in my application three to four days ago. I’m still waiting to get accepted.”
Michael Weyl’s lockdown staples
Top 3 movies/shows
1. Avengers movies.
“I love all those movies.”
“The best actor (in Spider-Man) probably has to be Tom Holland. He hits the character right.”
“My favorite character is Wolverine, so I like any movie with him in it. I really hope they keep Hugh Jackman. It would be hard to get used to someone else.”
Top 3 foods/snack/drinks
“I love that. My grandma makes good steak. I like mines medium rare. We eat a lot of steak, at least three to four times a week. She doesn’t eat as much as me and my grandpa. She takes the smallest portion. I don’t think we really care too much what type of steak it is.”
“I love potatoes. Fried potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Baked potatoes. I put it in the microwave, heat it up, cut it open, put some butter on it and let it melt. We usually eat homemade mashed potatoes. My grandma makes it.”
“Probably tonkotsu, the pork broth. That’s the best broth. Firm noodles, some char siu. I usually make it with the instant packs. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll make a soft-boiled egg. Seven minutes, and I put some fishcake in there.”
“If I’m making myself something, if it’s a little bit too much I have my grandma eat some. Fried rice or something like that.”
Bonus question: What are the top 3 food or drink items at Schofield Bowling Center?
“The menu’s smaller now because of COVID.”
1. Popcorn chicken.
2. Chicken Caesar’s salad.
“It’s one of the common things I liked. Nothing else except lettuce. They have regular fries and curly fries.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Logic – “100 Miles and Running”
2. Juice WRLD – “Lucid Dreams”
3. Post Malone – “Circles”
“I probably would go to a major event in the past, where a major company is being made so I could invest in it, like Apple or Netflix. Dinosaurs? Dinosaurs are too dangerous. I wouldn’t change an event, too risky, come back and what if things are different?”
Favorite teacher: Mr. Curtis S. Ogi.
“This is English for 10th graders. I just had a lot of fun in his class. He’s very sarcastic and he isn’t afraid to roast people, so I was always laughing in his class. He was that much smarter than everyone, so everything he said is kind of downcutting and that was funny. He was a good teacher. He knew how explain things differently to different people, to get them to understand something. The whole general thing about writing or reading. We were reading old books and he would explain the meaning behind it. Even general ideas. He taught me for main characters, we thought it was the title of the book, but the main character is the person with the biggest development. He made English fun.”
New life skill
“I’ve learned something. I found a new interest during COVID. It comes back to bowling. After working with Jody Yamamoto, the technique, I’ve had an interest the last six, seven months of how everything falls into place with bowling and helping other people with their game. Coaching people so I can learn as much as I can to help people. I think I’m still not even close to being able to coach someone, but some things, some small things I can help people. I know if someone’s timing is late or early. I can tell by a little bit if their pushaway is a little too steep or rigid, too downward, I can tell if they’re holding the ball too long at the top of their swing.”
Weyl is roughly 5 feet, 8.5 inches and “120 something pounds.” His grandfather says Michael is 135 pounds.
“I honestly should be exercising and it would be a lot better for my body, but I just stretch a little bit. Hard core working out is not useful at all. I could do some conditioning because there are a lot of games at events. I could stay more consistent, but I’ll probably do that in college.”
“Brunswick men’s shoes. These are one of their top performance shoes. At Schofield we pay $200 for them, maybe a little lower. Dust can make you slip. A little moisture on the bottom of your shoe, wet, you’re in trouble. Lot of accidents can happen, which is why they keep the bowlers area dry as possible.”
“I do put some sports tape on my wrist because sometimes it gives out. No brace.
“Pete Weber wears a glove to get a better grip. I’ve never needed to use it, so I just haven’t gotten to needing to use. Most colleges are sponsored by a bowling ball company. It used to matter more to me. My dad was sponsored by Brunswick.
“All my stuff is paid for by my grandpa, sometimes someone will give me a ball. A bunch of my balls now are not as heavy on him.”
“I want to shout out my grandparents. Shout out both my coaches. Coach Corey, definitely Coach Jody. Also shout out Hawaii Bowlers Tour. That’s run by Chad Pojas. They’ve all helped me out with my bowling and stuff, bringing it to another level.”