WATERFORD – Warren Woods Tower bowling coach Craig Geml isn’t bashful about proclaiming what a bright future Noah Tafanelli has in the sport.
“He’s definitely going to bowl at a high-level college program,” Geml said of his junior standout.
Anyone at Century Bowl who witnessed Tafanelli’s performance Saturday at the MHSAA Division 2 Singles Finals could certainly see that likely will be the case.
Tafanelli dominated from start to finish, earning the top spot out of the qualifying block and staying hot from there, winning the title with relative ease.
Tafanelli didn’t have a score lower than 213 nor a margin of victory less than 46 pins on the way to his first title.
“The first couple of rounds, I was nervous,” Tafanelli said. “But I got on my pace the last couple of rounds.”
In the final, Tafanelli beat Grand Rapids Northview senior Dan Frey 494-410. That followed a 466-409 win over Northview freshman Kyle Pranger in the semifinals, a 466-366 win over Lowell senior Collin Clark in the quarterfinals and a 439-393 win over Chelsea junior Luis Carvallo in the round of 16.
“My sophomore year, I placed 11th,” Tafanelli said. “It helped me a lot. Just recognizing the format and recognizing the people around.”
On the girls side, another junior took home a Finals title for the first time.
Flint Kearsley’s Megan Timm found a groove in the elimination round after finishing 15th out of the qualifying block, eventually beating Carleton Airport freshman Ryan Giese in the final, 374-353.
Timm held a 182-141 lead after the first game before holding off a hard-charging Giese, who won the second game 212-192.
But it wasn’t enough to topple Timm, who left the alley with tears of joys less than a day after leaving in tears of sorrow after Kearsley’s team saw its run of sixth straight titles come to end with a semifinal loss.
“I couldn’t tell you how I feel,” Timm said. “I can’t believe it just happened. I don’t believe it happened. I just worked hard and made my spares.”
Timm’s run began with a 355-327 win over Cedar Springs senior Omani Morales in the round of 16, then continued with a 343-329 win over Bay City John Glenn sophomore Julia Struck in the quarterfinals.
Timm then ran up against Woods Tower freshman Kayla Tafanelli, Noah’s sister, in the semifinals, earning a 390-363 victory to advance to the final.
“She’s been great all season long,” said Kearsley coach Rob Ploof. “She got a new ball in the first (part) of February and that’s the ball she won a state title with. My nephew drilled it up for her. She’s just a great kid and deserves that.”
Both Noah Tafanelli and Timm will prepare next for an offseason of figuring out college plans and planning for repeat opportunities in 2021.
Tafanelli was the first boys bowler from Woods Tower to win an MHSAA Finals title, while Timm was Kearsley’s third girls bowler to win it all.
Over the last decade, media days have begun to emerge as a way for some of the state’s largest leagues to kick off their sports seasons. The Kensington Lakes Activities Association, for example, hosts them in a variety of sports.
To get this winter rolling, the KLAA for the first time added bowling to the list – highlighting one of its strongest but often less visible sports by welcoming bowlers and coaches from all 16 of the league’s schools Nov. 8 to Westland John Glenn.
The KLAA is one of the top bowling conferences in the state – a combined five teams made the MHSAA Team Finals last season for girls and boys, and Wayne Memorial’s boys won the Division 1 championship. That actually was the third season in a row that a KLAA team won Division 1 boys – Livonia Franklin was the champ in 2022 and Salem in 2021 – and Belleville’s girls finished Division 1 runners-up in 2021. Franklin and John Glenn both have produced a Division 1 singles champion over the last three seasons as well.
The media day celebrated that success – while looking ahead to possibilities for more to come this winter.
The event was organized by John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy, the league’s commissioner for that sport (and also a member of the MHSAA Representative Council). Interviews and the video below were compiled by Westland John Glenn senior Lizzy Fall. Photos are by Olivia B. Photography.