Legacies Created, Grow with D2 Winners
March 7, 2015
By Sarah Jaeger
Special for Second Half
WATERFORD – Flint Kearsley can add another championship to its school bowling history. Muskegon Reeths-Puffer can add its first.
After Kearsley won its second Finals team title in as many years Friday, junior Chad Stephens took home the singles title Saturday at Century Lanes in Waterford. Reeths-Puffer senior Kayleigh Gonzalez, meanwhile, claimed her school’s first bowling title in her first Singles Finals appearance.
"It's pretty great, back-to-back titles as a team and coming back and winning singles," Stephens said. "It's pretty incredible."
To claim his second championship of the weekend, Stephens in the Final faced Charlotte senior Collin Fox, no stranger to competing for an MHSAA title.
"I think he's a great quality bowler," said Charlotte coach David Jackson. "He finished third last year. I think he was in the final eight the year before. I kind of thought he'd go all the way today."
However, Stephens jumped to an early lead with a 226 to Fox's 179. While Fox came back with a 207, Stephens finished the set with a 187 to win with a total of 413 to Fox's 386.
While the end result may not have been to Fox's liking, he will take with him a memorable moment from the 2015 Singles Finals. "Picking up the 7-10," said Fox. "That's probably the highlight. I guess it's a good way to end senior year."
"I'm sorry to lose him," Jackson added. " I kept telling him to fail some test so he could come back and bowl some more. He wouldn't listen."
The toughest match for Stephens may not have been the Final but rather the Semifinal, where he had to take on his teammate, Kearsley senior Anthony Kelley.
"I don't really like facing a teammate," said Stephens, "but on the lanes it's just business. You have to work hard for this game no matter who you're bowling."
"I had to continually remind them to take it seriously because after this you've got one more match to bowl somebody," said Flint Kearsley coach Bart Rutledge. "So you can't let up and let the emotion go."
Emotions were high in the girls singles competition as well. The final match pinned Muskegon Reeths-Puffer’s Gonzalez against Tecumseh junior Kayla Wild.
While both left some open frames during the first game, Gonzales was able to put a string of strikes together and take the lead 210 to 175.
"I knew that I had a little bit of an advantage because I had a 210 the first game," said Gonzalez. "So as long as I kept at a steady pace with her, I knew I was ok."
Pace she did. Gonzalez finished with a 182 while Wild had trouble covering some of her spares, throwing a 175 for her last game.
"I thought I bowled well all day," Wild said. "I was surprised when I missed that many spares the last game. I know my thumb started to hurt, but that's not an excuse. I could have got them."
While she may have appeared calm after claiming the Division 2 singles championship, Gonzalez was in shock.
"I was kind of surprised," said Gonzalez, who will attend Muskegon Community College next year and bowl for the Jayhawks. "I didn't think I'd actually win. I was just happy to get into the top 16."
"This was the third year in a row we were able to come for Team (Finals)," said Reeths-Puffer assistant coach, Marc Vanderstelt, also Gonzalez's stepdad, "but the first chance for Kayleigh as an individual in the three years she's been on the team. She just did a phenomenal job."
As for the runner-up, Wild, this was only her third year bowling. Being a junior, she is poised to come back stronger for her senior year.
"You know when you get to that top 16 anything can happen," said Tecumseh coach Ken Richard. "We'll work on her spare shooting and the mental game to pull it off."
Wild's hope is to do what Kearsley's Stephen did this year: "A state championship, either team or individual, or both would work."
Click for full girls results and full boys results.
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.”