By Sarah Dorow
Special for Second Half
WATERFORD – History was made Saturday in Waterford as Jordan Richard, a junior from Tecumseh, became the first MHSAA Finals back-to-back singles champion.
"It's amazing," Richards said. "We wanted it as a team, too, but unfortunately it didn't work out so well."
She led the qualifying block with a score of 1,370 and high game of 268.
On her journey back to the finals she ousted number 16 seed Samantha Eldridge from Owosso (424-375), the eighth seed Samantha Knight from Richland Gull Lake (427-381) and Kayla Emmendorfer, the fourth seed from Flint Kearsley (425-400).
The last bowler who stood in the way of Richard's back-to-back championships was sixth-seeded senior Sabrina Senninger from Grand Rapids Northview.
In the semifinal round, Senninger knocked out Richard's teammate, junior Lauren McKowen, by a single pin.
But after the excitement, Senninger had to prepare to face the top-seeded defending champion.
"I knew that I would be going against Jordan, and I just told myself I needed to bowl my best and do what I could," Senninger said
And that included leaning on her fans for support.
"I think having my parents and family there definitely helped,” she added.
However, Richard's experience proved too much and she beat Senninger 450-326.
With her senior year on the horizon, Richard already is looking ahead toward a three-peat and what she plans to work on in the offseason.
"Spares, because I've been struggling with my 10 pin lately, and I've missed quite a few this weekend," she said.
This was the fourth MHSAA singles championship won by a Tecumseh bowler over the past five seasons. In addition to Richard's win in 2012, her older sister, Kara Richard, won in 2010 and Tawni Vollmer took the title for the Indians in 2009.
Holly's Andrew Anderson didn't begin competing this season until six weeks ago. But his credentials spoke for themselves: He had made the top 16 singles at the MHSAA tournament his freshman year, the quarterfinals his sophomore year, and is a member of the 2012 Junior Team USA.
The senior made the most of his Finals opportunity and beat Bay City John Glenn junior Alex Ouellette for the singles championship Saturday.
After the morning qualifier, which included a 299 game, Anderson was sitting in first with Ouellette second.
But Anderson and Ouellette, who also had made it to the quarterfinals before, knew positioning didn't guarantee a win.
"I just knew that qualifying didn't mean anything because if you bowl against the 16th or the first, they're still good bowlers, and you have to go out and do your own thing and make shots," Ouellette said.
Ouellette was able to lean on his strength of making spares and eased his way into the finals while Anderson was almost knocked out in the quarterfinals by Sault Ste. Marie senior Nick Beatty with a nail-biting score of 415-412.
"I was ahead and he, just like the match before, he came out striking 246 against me," Anderson said. "But I knew that I was going to have a chance being up by 40 pins. He gave me a chance to throw the first one and shut him out."
Once in the finals, Anderson had the carry and threw the first 10 strikes.
"You know the bowling gods liked me today,” he said. “Let's just say that."
While Anderson was striking, Ouellette applied his own strategy and did not watch his opponent's shots.
"You can't do anything about what the other person does, so if they go through the nose or throw a good strike it doesn't matter," Ouellette said. "It's still a strike. You can't do anything about how they throw it."
In the end, Anderson’s 289 game to start the finals match proved too much to overcome, and he beat Ouellette 518-406.
With Anderson ending his high school career on a high note, junior Ouellette is looking to do the same next year.
"I want to win it," said Ouellette. "So I'm going to use this as motivation that I've gotten here, I've gotten close and I know what it takes to win."
Over the last decade, media days have begun to emerge as a way for some of the state’s largest leagues to kick off their sports seasons. The Kensington Lakes Activities Association, for example, hosts them in a variety of sports.
To get this winter rolling, the KLAA for the first time added bowling to the list – highlighting one of its strongest but often less visible sports by welcoming bowlers and coaches from all 16 of the league’s schools Nov. 8 to Westland John Glenn.
The KLAA is one of the top bowling conferences in the state – a combined five teams made the MHSAA Team Finals last season for girls and boys, and Wayne Memorial’s boys won the Division 1 championship. That actually was the third season in a row that a KLAA team won Division 1 boys – Livonia Franklin was the champ in 2022 and Salem in 2021 – and Belleville’s girls finished Division 1 runners-up in 2021. Franklin and John Glenn both have produced a Division 1 singles champion over the last three seasons as well.
The media day celebrated that success – while looking ahead to possibilities for more to come this winter.
The event was organized by John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy, the league’s commissioner for that sport (and also a member of the MHSAA Representative Council). Interviews and the video below were compiled by Westland John Glenn senior Lizzy Fall. Photos are by Olivia B. Photography.