Their paths were different, but both the Girls and Boys Varsity Bowling teams are heading to Allen Park this weekend to bowl in the state finals. The teams bowl on Friday at Thunderbowl Lanes and singles competition is on Saturday.
“As good a season as both the boys and girls bowling teams had,” Wildcat Coach Claude “Jr.” Lafnear said, “It would seem hollow if we didn’t cap it with a trip to the state finals. The boys haven’t been to the finals since the 2020 season and the girls since 2019. There were 16 teams at Century Lanes in Waterford this past weekend and only the top three moved on to state finals.”
According to Lafnear, the girls bowled well and consistent. They stayed in the top three spots all day. “It was no surprise they finished in the second spot to move into the state finals,” he said.
The girls were led by Senior Olivia Hoffman, with games of 178 and 201. She was followed by Co-Captain Tessa Bonks, who bowled 180, 188 and Junior Kaya Coffman’s 186 and 166. Kaya was called in at the last minute to replace injured Kiley Penzien.
“The girls are just a amazing team. I don’t remember ever having a team that is so steady. They don’t always bowl big scores but they rarely ever shoot a bad score,” Lafnear said.
The boy’s team had a little bumpier road.
Lafnear said they bowled “average to slightly below” during the eight baker games, yet still found themselves only one pin out of third place and only three pins out of second. North Farmington built a 130-pin lead over the field.
“The team games are the strength of our team and when the team shot a very very bad game it was a shock,” Oxford’s coach said. “The games were 165, 153, 113,144 and 149 for a total of 724 pins. It was the lowest game in the entire boys tournament. That is the lowest game in the history of our varsity boys’ program. We got every bad break we could get and we never got rolling.”
The boys fell from fourth place just three pins out of second all the way down to 11th place, 136 pins out of the final transfer position. With only one game to go it seemed unlikely they would jump the eight teams ahead of them to move on to Allen Park this weekend. The boys, with a seemly impossible task ahead of them, turned up the heat. They started the game hot and they kept it going the entire game. The scores 212, 220, 225, 177 and 180 totaled 1,014 which was 290 pins better than the game before. It was the only game in the tournament that was over 1,000.
“There were too many people ahead of us to track,” Lafnear said. “So we could only wait to see if we pulled off the impossible. Could we jump eight teams in one round? The answer was ‘yes!’ We ended the day in third and are moving on to Allen Park. This was as crazy as it could get. The team failed together and then fought back together to overcome. It is what these kids have had to do for the past three years. It wasn’t one person it was the entire team and I couldn’t be prouder. They have dealt with so much and they never quit.”
Lafnear congratulated seniors Jason Paslean and Caroline Martinez, Freshmen Kaitlyn Mcfadden and Regional Champion Senior Macey Strevel for advancing into the singles state finals. Macey is going for the second straight year and won the regional singles title over Katie Stephens of Clarkston by eight pins.