Freshman Tommy Green gives Taft great shot at state

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Taft boys bowling coach Patrick Levins had no idea what he was getting when freshman Tommy Green joined the team

“I had never heard of him,” Levins said. “His dad emailed me in the summer saying that he’s good and should be on the team. And I said sure.”

Levins was just happy to have enough bowlers to fill out his starting lineup.

Green has done much more than that. He won the Taft Regional last Saturday at Habetler Bowl with a whopping six-game series of 1,550 (258.3 average), which was by far the best regional score in the state. Just like that, Green has gone from unknown to a contender for the state title.

“I’ve never bowled this crazy,” Green said. “I’ve had good games every once in a while but nothing like this.”

Green is enjoying what Levins calls “a phenomenal year” for the Eagles, the reigning Public League champions. He rolled his first 300 game on Dec. 16 against Payton and is averaging 202. But that ranks only second on the team behind junior Marc Gonzalez’s 221, so Green’s regional exploits were unexpected.

Green began the day with a 296 and followed with games of 233, 245, 254, 254 and 268. Levins said the key to the performance was Green’s response to some adversity in the second game.

“I was really impressed with his ability to get the [one-pin] spares,” Levins said. “He made three in a row. He didn’t lose his composure.”

Though Green didn’t break under the pressure of his first postseason competition, he did ache. Green uses the two-hand style of bowling.

“I’ve never tried his style,” Levins said. “It really puts pressure on your back and legs. He looked at me in the fifth game and said, ‘Man, my thighs are burning,’ and I was like, ‘what do you want me to do, take you out?’ It was funny.”

Green, 15, has been bowling for five years but he didn’t adopt the two-hand style until he was 12.

“I was bowling in another league and one kid said, ‘look what I can do,’” Green said. “I said, ‘oh, that’s cool, maybe I can try that.’ You can get more revs on the ball and get more pin carry, so it helps with strikes.”

Green had no idea what to expect from high school bowling and, in hindsight, had rather modest goals.

“I was hoping to carry a 170 average and I didn’t want to let the team down because it’s a team sport,” Green said. “I definitely didn’t expect for me to go crazy and bowl like that [at regionals]. I was just hoping for the team to get in the top four and advance on to sectionals.”

The Eagles did so, finishing second with a pinfall of 6,120, just 34 behind New Trier. Taft has had just one individual qualify for the state finals and has never advanced as a team, but the squad could make history Saturday at the St. Patrick Sectional, which will be held at Habetler.

The top six teams will qualify for the state finals at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. Taft had the fourth-best regional score of the 16 teams in the field.

“Honestly, that would be a dream,” Green said. “It would be very nice to go Downstate for the experience, especially for the seniors to get to experience that in their last year.”

Gonzalez is the only Eagle with state meet experience, having finished 67th two years ago for St. Patrick. But Levins said Green can win it all despite his inexperience.

“He’s got the potential,” Levins said. “He’s got the talent.”

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