Seniors Standouts Cap Careers with D1 Wins
By Jason Schmitt
Special for MHSAA.com
March 2, 2019
ALLEN PARK – The minute she saw the match play draw at Saturday’s Division 1 Bowling Singles Finals, Oxford’s Megan Armbruster’s eyes lit up. She had already mentally circled a name on her half of the draw.
A year ago Armbruster’s dreams of winning an individual championship were dashed by Jenison’s Lauren Slagter, who ousted Armbruster in the first round of match play. It’s something that did not sit well with the Wildcats senior. So when she saw a potential semifinal matchup at this year’s Finals, she was all in.
“(Slagter) had knocked me out last year and I was upset,” Armbruster said. “After I won the quarterfinal match here today, I noticed that I had to play her and I just wanted to get revenge.”
She certainly got her revenge, and then went on to defeat St. Clair Shores Lake Shore sophomore Dani Decruydt in the title match, 416-367, at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park.
“It feels so awesome to finish my career off like that,” said Armbruster, who was seeded 12th out of the qualifying round. “It was super quiet out there, and my legs were shaking, but I didn’t feel my nerves at all. I just kept throwing the ball, staying super calm and shooting the ball one at a time.”
Armbruster collected four strikes in her first five frames of the final and did not have an open frame the entire first game. She led Decruydt by 34 pins after Game 1 and calmly pulled away for the first Finals singles bowling title in Oxford history.
“I’m especially proud of Megan. Her brother (Eric) bowled for me when she was like in the sixth grade,” said her coach, J.R. Lafnear. “She saw her brother bowl … and she fell in love with the sport.
“So she began working with us. Her mom and the rest of her family are outstanding supporters of our program. For her it’s special.”
Armbruster defeated Taylor’s Abigail Bird in her first match of the day before ousting Flushing’s Evelyn Cano in the quarterfinals.
Decruydt was the seventh seed after six games of qualifying action. She defeated Farmington-Harrison’s Carrington Beaman in her first match and followed it up with wins over Holt’s Gabriella Van Horn and Jenison’s Anna Bartz to reach the Final.
“Dani never gets too high or too low,” said her coach, Jeff Villasurda. “The great thing about Dani is that nothing ever really fazes her. Nothing’s too big for her. So she wasn’t really fazed by what was going on out there. The other girl just made a couple extra shots.”
Over on the boys’ side, Brownstown Woodhaven senior Jeff Lizewski went out in style, catching fire at just the right time.
After piecing together a mediocre qualifying block score of 1,210 – good for just the 15th seed – Lizewski averaged a 222 over eight games of match play, capping things off with a 453-322 victory over Jenison senior Nick Slagter.
Lizewski strung together five straight strikes to open the final and never really had to look back.
“I came out of qualifying 15th, and I started off real bad. I didn’t have a good look at all in the first game,” said Lizewski, who reached the quarterfinal round last year as a junior. “I made a big ball switch, and I threw it until I came home with a win.”
Lizewski, who will be bowling at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater next year, narrowly edged the 2-seed, Abery Thomas of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, in his first match, 445-440. He then got past Macomb Dakota’s Kyle Finn, 443-435, in the quarterfinals and downed Salem’s John Hall, 433-325, in the semifinals.
Slagter defeated Saline’s Dallas Casey and Walled Lake Central’s Nick Casagrande and Jarrod Willbur in his next two matches to reach the final.
“If there was one person I’d want to lose to over there it would be Lizewski,” said Slagter, who wrapped up his high school career Saturday. “I have bowled against him in some out-of-season tournaments, and he’s filthy.
“I feel like I bowled great this weekend. I tried my best in the team event yesterday, and we fell just a little short in making the cut. But today, I did fall a little short in the championship match but I’m really happy overall. I had fun.”
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.”