Picking top prep bowlers not easy

By Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

On the surface the task is simple. Assess the six high school teams that are based in Lima or Allen County. You can feel free to sprinkle in different youth who are members of the Lima Bowling Association or bowl in the youth events and come up with the top eight performers.

Last week we revealed the top eight young ladies – Cecilia Riepenhoff, Allie Meeker, Morgan Twining, Abbey Ambroza, Hannah Riepenhoff, Jordyn Stewart and our twin Bowlers of the Year, Bryana Twining and Dayle Aldrich.

The group had different traits in common to include a degree of humility, willingness to learn different approaches to the game, remarkable local bowling resumes and perhaps related to the humility angle – sense that they were not bigger than the game and as a result they had something that they could learn from those who coached them.

The assembling of that list was a labor of love. While I have great respect for the youth who roll in our area, this list was more difficult to assemble.

It certainly was not difficult to look at the different schools and see amazing talent. As I have so often said we have amazing youth bowlers in our area. Schools have excelled and will continue to do well.

One of the elements that became clear almost immediately is how unfortunate it is that Perry does not have a school program. They have four really good bowlers, including two in the final group. One of the four, Brayden Dalton is a middle schooler, but brother Camren along with Cameron Patrick and Christian Nutt are awfully good.

Another point that became apparent was that the girls seemed more willing to learn various approaches to the game. Their bowling tool chest by comparison resembles the big Mac Tool Chest that you see in machine shops while often the young men could store their tools in their multiple three ball bowling bags.

Shawnee is an amazing team and as a result different youth were all mentioned at some time or another. It was difficult but when all elements were taken into consideration only one Shawnee bowler from Jeff Geise, Keaton McKinley, Skyler Briggs or Nate Stratton made the list.

The goal was to focus on Lima youth but two bowlers who did not roll from Lima high school squads did make the final group because of their attachment to LBA sanctioned leagues. Each demonstrated moments of dominance of LBA events and one has a great resume from state and regional events to include a state gold medal.

Before the final group is revealed I want to offer these two disclaimers.

The related themes of bigger than the game and humility continued to enter the picture as individuals were reviewed. It was a key factor, although not absolute, in the final selections. The second is related. When the girls were selected, there was a huge desire to have the opportunity to coach those who were selected.

The final group in alphabetical order:

Skyler Briggs, Brayton Businger, Camren Dalton, Gabe Dilallo, Tim Dunifon, Tyler Miller, Marcus McGee, James Milligan, Cameron Patrick, Dominic Riepenhoff, Jay Riepenhoff and Jarrett Smith.

Yes for those of you who are counting that is 12 and not 8.

The final two cuts were extremely difficult. This writer still feels that Briggs had one of the purest strokes prior to seeking more revolutions. He made the switch to two handed and continued to dominate more often than not.

Businger is a personal favorite, one of two bowlers on the list that I would select to take my money shot in a big match. He may be the most humble person on the list as well.

Dalton has amazing game and will continue to get better if for no other reason than to make sure his little brother does not catch and pass him.

Diallo is an intense student of the game, perhaps surpassed by only Milligan on the list as one who has worked on his game. Nelson Ambroza deserves a ton of credit for the development of his game. He may have the best shelf life as any bowler on this list.

Dunifon is a gamer. Where Diallo is an intense student of the game Dunifon may be the most in game assassin on the list. He will compete to the end of each match.

Miller may seem like an outlier on this list as he rolled for Wapakoneta. He was a very active member in the LBA league and tournament play however. He is the one bowler that I would take ahead of Businger to take a critical shot in a match for my team.

McGee would not have been on this list a year ago but he grew a great deal under Coach Mike Kirian and claimed the district scoring title.

Milligan has more heart than any bowler that I have seen in the past year. I cannot imagine that there is anybody who has worked harder on his game or more actively listened and applied what he has learned at the knee of Coach Kirian as well as Louie Boughan.

Patrick is without question one of my favorite performers. He has overcome so much in the last two years and his victory in the Jessica Sanford tournament this past season is a person highlight of my writing career.

Jay and Dominic Riepenhoff or Dominic and Jay could declare MVP status. While Cecilia was the heart of the LCC team, these two young men were the muscle. A limited number of games was the only factor that kept them out of the top five. They will each be back next season and would anticipate a raise in ranking at that time.

Smith is an amazing young man who has been characterized by Coach Kirian as the heart of his team. This list would simply by empty without him.

So who are the top eight?

As with the young ladies each team has to have a great bench. This bench certainly meets the criteria. Milligan, Dunifon and Cam Dalton will push the top five and be more than adequate replacements if anybody stumbles.

In reverse order this year’s top five: 5. Skyler Briggs, 4. Cameron Patrick, 3. Brayton Businger, 2. Gabe Diallo.

And Bowler of the Year is Tyler Miller.


By Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.

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