Urben, Kiplinger Earn Schools' 1st Titles

March 3, 2018

By Tim Robinson
Special for Second Half

CANTON — A fast start proved to be the difference for Wayland’s Sydney Urben on Saturday.

She rolled strikes in the first four frames of her Division 2 Singles Final, and used that momentum to claim her school’s first MHSAA bowling championship.

“It gave me a lot of confidence,” she said, “because I knew Imari (Blond, of Flint Kearsley) is a really good bowler. I knew she would be tough competition. I knew I had to hang with her, and I did.”

Urben is no stranger to Finals. She was on the Wayland softball team when it won the Division 2 championship in 2015, and reached the Bowling Singles Finals the next year as a sophomore before losing to Flint Kearsley’s Hannah Ploof.

“My mindset (Saturday) was it’s my last time I’m ever going to be here,” Urben said. “(Winning the title) has been my goal since my sophomore year. I couldn’t get it done (last year). This time I gave myself a chance just by making the cut. So I might as well finish strong, you know?”

Urben won the first game 225-171, which gave her more than enough cushion as Blond won the second game 185-184.

Urben’s coaches, Sherry Miklusciak and Mike Omness, were proud both for their athlete and for their school as Wayland alums.

But they laughingly won’t take any credit for her success.

“She makes her own moves, all her own ball changes,” Miklusciak said. “She really coaches herself. We really don’t have a lot to do with her (bowling) at all. She is just amazing and powerful.”

And, Urben admitted, a little numb moments after her victory.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” she said. “I’m just really happy.”

Kearsley, which won its fifth consecutive team title Friday, had a chance to have an all-Kearsley final. Blond was on one side of the bracket and teammate Barbara Hawes in the other. But Urben beat Hawes by seven pins in the semifinals.

On the boys side, Alec Keplinger capped off a big week for Coldwater by winning the school’s first individual title in any sport in decades.

Keplinger, a junior, defeated Cadillac sophomore Kyle Vermilyea 431-325 in the championship match.

Keplinger also bowled Friday, when the Cardinals finished runner-up in the team meet, the best team finish in school history.

“I was here last year and made it to the top 16 and struggled after that,” Keplinger said.

That experience helped him Friday as well.

“It definitely was easier,” he said. “Not as much nerves and stuff.”

He held off Vermilyea in the first game, 199-172, then got on a roll in the second in a 232-152 victory.

“I was just staying calm in the second game, and I knew I had it,” Keplinger said. “I was just excited (afterward). I’ve been very close in many different (events), and I was super happy for my parents and my coach (Frank Demond). He’s been coaching a long time. It means a lot.”

Although Keplinger has plans to pursue a repeat title next year, he’s also looking ahead, having committed to bowl in college at Wichita State University.

In the meantime, he’ll continue to be a three-sport athlete. He plays tennis in the fall and golfs in the spring.

For now, though, he’ll savor his MHSAA Finals championship.

Click for full girls results and 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.”

Division 4 Final Results - Boys | Girls