Finals Preview: Regulars' Roll Call
February 27, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The boys and girls sides of this weekend’s MHSAA Bowling Finals could follow distinctly different storylines with team competition set to begin Friday.
Regulars like Davison, Tecumseh, Vandercook Lake and Sandusky are among favorites again in the girls competition. The boys tournaments appear much more wide open with a number of unranked teams looking good to make runs at titles.
All Team Finals are Friday, and Singles Finals are Saturday. Click for the full list of girls qualifiers and boys qualifiers, and come back to Second Half all weekend for coverage from all four Finals sites.
Girls Division 1
Team: Davison, the champion the last two seasons and top-ranked this winter, rolled last weekend’s highest Division 1 Regional score of 4,004 – 243 pins better than the next highest contender. Back from last season’s championship team are Singles Finals qualifiers Kailee Tubbs and Brooklyn Greene, but Davison also is bolstered by Regional champ and freshman Taylor Davis, another freshman qualifier in Kalee Johnson and one more qualifier in junior Taylor Brown. Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Sterling Heights Stevenson are ranked Nos. 4 and 3, respectively, in the latest coaches poll, and both cleared 3,700 pins at their Regionals, while No. 2 Macomb Dakota also qualified.
Singles: Dakota senior Nicole Mikaelian ascended from the 16th spot in qualifying at last season’s Final to finish individual runner-up, and she’ll be back among the contenders. Freshman Davis and Canton’s Meghan Macunovich both won Regionals and the latter’s 1,282 the highest individual score in Division 1. Walled Lake Central senior Ashley Bickel and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North sophomore Samantha Gainor joined those two among others in breaking 1,200 to win Regional titles.
Boys Division 1
Team: Top-ranked and reigning champion Salem did not qualify for the Finals, opening up this field considerably. No. 2 Macomb Dakota, the champion in both 2011 and 2012, posted last weekend’s top Regional score regardless of division, 4,341. Clinton Township Chippewa Valley with 4,273 and Sterling Heights Stevenson with 4,272 had the next highest Regional scores in the state – finishing second and third, respectively, behind Dakota at that tournament.
Singles: Last season Quarterfinalists Jack Herndel of Howell and Jacob Kersten of Clarkston are the only ones of that top eight who qualified again this season, Herndel as a Regional champ. Sterling Heights Stevenson junior Anthony Taormina put up the division’s highest score of 1,404, with Flint Carman-Ainsworth senior Jordon Nunn next at 1,375. Nunn made the Finals match play last season.
Girls Division 2
Team: Top-ranked Tecumseh is looking to regain the title after winning three straight from 2008-10. Its score of 4,017 was the best at any Regional, regardless of division, and four seniors qualified for the Singles Final as well with Lauren McKowen’s 1,320 the highest Regional individual score in the state. Flint Kearsley, the 2012 champion, posted last week’s second-highest Regional score of 3,664 and qualified five individuals – all seniors or juniors – for the Singles tournament.
Singles: Reigning champion Jordan Richard, another of the Tecumseh seniors, finished runner-up to her teammate McKowen at the Regional. Both made the individual Semifinals in 2013, as did Kearsley junior Kayla Emmendorfer, who also will return. Only three of the top 14 match play qualifiers last season were seniors, and 10 of those 11 who were not are qualified to bowl this weekend.
Boys Division 2
Team: Reigning champion Sturgis and top-ranked Marysville both won their Regionals last weekend, with Taylor Kennedy – which just missed the Finals Quarterfinals last season – putting up the division’s top Regional score of 4,037. No. 4 Flint Kearsley should be back in the mix after also winning its Regional, but unranked Bay City John Glenn is the most intriguing after winning its Regional with a 3,803 and then qualifying three seniors for the individual tournament.
Singles: John Glenn senior Alex Ouellette helped key that team effort and won the singles Regional title, and he might be the favorite after finishing Finals runner-up in 2013. Only two others in Division 2 posted higher Regional scores – Warren Fitzgerald senior Alec Nunn threw a 1,445 and looks tough after making match play last season, while Dearborn Heights Annapolis senior Leon Hutchcraft rolled a 1,348 to win his Regional.
Girls Division 3
Team: No. 4-ranked Richmond posted the division’s highest Regional score of 3,667 to win a tournament that also included top-ranked Croswell-Lexington, which did qualify as a third-place finisher. Reigning champion Battle Creek Pennfield also qualified as a Regional champion, and unranked Standish-Sterling is an intriguing contender after joining Richmond as the only Division 3 teams to break 3,600 last weekend.
Singles: Alma senior Hannah Chase made the Quarterfinals last season and looks poised to finish an outstanding career with one last run after posting the division’s’ highest Regional score of 1,242. Caro junior Adreanna Jackson and Ishpeming senior Katlynne Carlson, both also Quarterfinalists last weekend, are back. Richmond senior Noelle Scheuer, the best non-senior in last season’s qualifying block, qualified again, a couple spots back of senior teammate Payton Dickson, who put up an impressive 1,225 to win that tournament.
Division 3 boys
Team: Unranked Ishpeming is looking to finish a title run after rolling the best qualifying block at last season’s Final by 100 pins but falling in the championship match by 30. The Hematites won their Regional with the second-highest score in Division 3, 4,085. The top score in Division 3 belonged to another unranked team, Corunna, which rolled a 4,174 to win its Regional by 473 pins over top-ranked Armada.
Singles: All but four of last season’s 16 match play participants were seniors, but Fremont junior Sam Brandt is back after making the Semifinals last season, while senior teammate Jeremy Pikaart won last weekend’s Regional after making the Quarterfinals in 2013 and Ishpeming senior Matt Kilberg qualified again after also making last year’s quarters. Five Division 3 qualifiers broke 1,300 at Regionals, led by Pinconning senior Calvin Kerr at 1,374.
Division 4 girls
Team: Reigning champion Vandercook Lake and reigning runner-up Sandusky have finished some combination of first and second each of the last three seasons. So of course they are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, again. Sandusky posted the division’s best Regional score of 3,716, with Vandercook Lake one pin off at 3,715 – so another classic could be inevitable. Unranked Ravenna, another Regional champion rolling 3,399, is an intriguing possibility to join the favorites.
Singles: Vandercook Lake senior Malloree Ambs defeated Oscoda junior Paige Huebel by only 14 pins in last season’s Final, and both are back – Ambs as a Regional champion with a score of 1,244, 98 pins better than the next best in Division 4. Rogers City junior Rebecca Bannasch also was a Semifinalist last season, and she won her Regional by 21 pins.
Division 4 boys
Team: Reigning champion Riverview Gabriel Richard was one of eight Davison 4 teams that broke 3,700 pins at Regionals – but Gabriel Richard finished only second to Jonesville, which rolled 3,788. No. 6 Ithaca and unranked Kent City were the only teams to break 3,800 pins as both won their Regionals. Neither of those two nor Jonesville qualified for the Finals in 2013.
Singles: A pair of freshmen rolled off in last season’s championship match, with Rogers City’s Bailey Budnik the eventual victor. He’s back this season, with another sophomore – Lakeview's Ryan Finup – bowling the division’s best Regional score of 1,231. Three freshmen – St. Charles' Kyle Tuttle, Sandusky’s Cody Johnston and Hanover-Horton’s Zach White – also won Regional titles.
PHOTO: Vandercook Lake’s Malloree Ambs watches one of her shots during last season's Division 4 Singles Final. She’s back in an attempt to repeat as champion. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Gobles' Brunner Closes with 3rd Title, Nouvel's McCarthy Locks Up No. 1
By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com
March 4, 2023
BATTLE CREEK — A few minutes after making history, Gobles senior Morgan Brunner was calm.
No loud celebration, just smiles all around Saturday after becoming the first competitor in the 20-year history of MHSAA girls bowling to win three Singles Finals titles in a row.
“She’s very even-keeled,” said her mother and coach, Karrie Brunner. “She knows she’s got a job to do, and she comes to do it. But she comes to have fun. That was a big part of today. She relaxed and had fun.”
Morgan Brunner rolled to the title, taking first in qualifying and defeating Traverse City Christian’s Brooke Smith 415-303 in the Division 4 final.
But that’s not to say she was expecting an easy time of it.
“I clinched it early, but I was definitely nervous,” she said. “I was nervous all day.”
Brunner dealt with the nerves by concentrating on the task at hand.
“I just tried to stay calm and make my best shots,” she said.
Brunner helped organize the Gobles program, and Saturday’s third-straight title was the latest achievement in a journey that began when she was 2 years old.
“As soon as she could walk,” Karrie Brunner said. "She was pushing the ball down there. I don’t know how many strikes she threw, but she was knocking pins down.”
Morgan hasn’t stopped since.
In the moments after the feat was accomplished, she said it felt like a weight off her shoulders.
“I don’t think it’s going to set in for a while,” she said of her accomplishment. “But it's nice to win.”
Saginaw Nouvel sophomore Alex McCarthy, meanwhile, jumped for joy as he threw the final ball of his boys match.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said afterward. “It’s hard to put it into words right now.”
McCarthy defeated Bryce Cadaret of Allen Park Cabrini, another sophomore, 433-393 in the final.
McCarthy finished 10th in qualifying, then won two matches before meeting Cadaret in the championship.
Cadaret came out hot, starting the match by rolling three strikes in a row.
“It got me back in the match mentally,” McCarthy said.
After a conversation with coach Brian Montini, McCarthy found his groove and never looked back, right through the final ball, which knocked down six pins as he celebrated.
“I had all these thoughts of my coach and all the other coaches and all the hard work I put in through the years,” he said.
Montini, for his part. wasn’t entirely surprised.
“The experience last year helped him,” Montini said, noting McCarthy’s quarterfinal run as a freshman. “We had it in our minds that he was going to do this. And he pulled through.”