Knop Finishes Frankenmuth Boys' Weekend Sweep with Singles Win

By Jeff Bleiler
Special for

March 2, 2024

JACKSON — Three frames into the game, Mayson Knop was in a pickle.

The Frankenmuth High School senior had already opened the frame prior and was staring at a monstrosity of a split — the 3-4-6-7-9-10 — and the prospect of digging an early hole against a bowler who had just shot a two-game series of 499.

Knop lined up, sent his ball toward the pins and slapped all six down. He then struck on eight of the next nine shots for a 237 game and a 62-pin lead that he rode to the Division 3 Singles Finals championship Saturday at Jax 60.

“I thought (the split conversion) was pretty big,” Knop said. “I didn’t know how the rest of the game was going to play out, but I knew that every pin counted.”

Knop needed just about every pin as Gladstone junior Matt Meyer clawed back after his opening 175 game but could ultimately not come up with the strikes he needed as Knop finished the second with 157 for a two-game total of 394 to Meyer’s 364.

Knop threw a strike in the 10th frame of the second game to seal it, and the emotions that had been building over two days that saw Frankenmuth sweep the team and individual trophies spilled over.

“I can’t even describe it,” Knop said. “Yesterday we went out and won team states, and it took a team effort. I’ve never in my entire life of bowling been more focused in a game (than the individual Final). It’s an incredible feeling, there’s no word to describe it.”

Coach Ron Krueger came up with a word: composure. Krueger said Knop joined the team as a sophomore and was a “raw” two-hander, but he soon inserted Knop into the anchor position and the experience he gained there showed up this weekend.

“The young man has worked incredibly hard; he bowls four days a week,” Krueger said. “He kept his composure. It’s a senior thing. When you get out here, there’s so much pressure and he kept his composure.”

Knop qualified 10th for match play after six qualifying games, starting with 224 and 247 and finishing with a total of 1,205. Teammate Miles Paetz was the top seed at 1,325, and Liam Liddle made it 3-for-3 Eagles in the top 16 by qualifying fifth with 1,241.

Knop defeated Lake Odessa Lakewood senior Phillip Butler in the first round 397-327, then advanced to the Semifinals with a 404-328 win over Croswell-Lexington freshman Joshua Gunderson.

He reached the Finals after overcoming an early deficit and defeating Milan sophomore Kendel Carpenter 411-385. After getting up early against Meyer, Knop found the going rougher in the second game of the Final, opening in three of the first seven frames before finishing strike-spare-strike-spare to secure the victory.

Meyer was the ninth seed after shooting 1,215 for the six games of qualifying. A one-handed bowler with massive revolutions on his resin ball — a stark contrast to the many two-handed bowlers throwing urethane — Meyer flawlessly advanced through the bracket with a 400-306 victory over Allegan junior Anderson Zoch, a 414-363 win over Paetz and a monstrous 499-309 victory over Midland Bullock Creek senior Anthony Davis.

Meyer shot games of 265 and 234 against Davis, by far the highest two-game set of match play. Davis’ 446 in the Quarterfinal over Grand Rapids Catholic Central junior Dom Danneffel’s 433 was second-highest in bracket play.

Knop said he tried picturing himself open bowling alone at Stardust Entertainment Center in Saginaw to calm himself, and the trick worked. He plans to bowl collegiately at Concordia University. Absent that, he said he’ll bowl PBA regional events with the ultimate goal of bowling on the PBA Tour.

For now, he plans to relish what was a dream weekend on the lanes.

“It’s been amazing. I love my team,” he said. “They’re amazing bowlers and amazing teammates. It’s a perfect way to end my last season of bowling.”

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