1st-Time Finalists Become 1st-Time Champs in D4
By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com
March 27, 2021
CANTON – Both Burr Oak junior Ethan Lindsay and Gobles sophomore Morgan Brunner obviously hope they qualify for the Division 4 Bowling Finals again during their high school careers.
But if they do, it is certainly going to be hard to top their respective first appearances.
Both not only competed in their first Finals, but they left Super Bowl in Canton with the titles as individual singles champions for 2021.
Lindsay earned his title by beating Stephen Kangas of Ishpeming Westwood in the final, 509-422.
Lindsay all but clinched his championship by bowling a 280 in the first game, a total he wasn’t sure afterwards was a season high or not.
Kangas bowled a 230, but still found himself down 50 pins.
“It was extremely nerve-wracking,” Lindsay said. ‘I would sing songs in my head to distract me from bowling. Anything to take my mind off my opponent and what he was bowling and what I was bowling.”
It was certainly hard for anyone who watched Lindsay’s brilliant day to want to look away from his bowling.
Seeded ninth out of the qualifying block, Lindsay earned a 432-347 win over Aiden Briguglio of Kimball Landmark Academy in the round of 16 before beating Jesse Pancio of Baldwin in a quarterfinal by just two pins, 380-378.
Lindsay then beat Riley Vernon of Ithaca in a semifinal, 355-337, before saving his best pair of games for the final.
At the end, Lindsay was simply thinking about his hometown and the fact he brought a championship back to it.
“It means a lot, especially for my town,” Lindsay said. “We’re a small town in Burr Oak. We’ve got like 300 kids in our school. It’s great to bring back this big trophy to my small town.”
Also bringing back a title to her small town was Brunner, who defeated Ella Wendel of Traverse City Christian in a close championship match.
Brunner prevailed 362-354, knowing she had the title when Wendel wasn’t able to bowl a strike on her first ball of the 10th frame in the second game.
“I was excited,” Brunner said of her mindset coming into her first state tournament. “I’ve been bowling pretty good recently. I just tried to stay positive.”
Brunner was the No. 3 seed out of the qualifying block, and started off by beating Chloe Crick of Maple City Glen Lake in the round of 16, 396-317.
Brunner then beat Arielle Oakley of Vandercook Lake in the quarterfinals, 404-292, and 2020 champ Kassidy Alexander of Hanover-Horton in the semifinals, 376-327, to set up the championship match with Wendel, who was the No. 1 seed out of the qualifying block.
“I was telling myself to stay calm and make good shots,” Brunner said. “It feels good.”
In addition to winning the titles in their first Finals appearances, Lindsay and Brunner did it in what was their only day at Super Bowl of the two-day event.
Their respective teams didn’t qualify for the Friday Team Finals, but it obviously didn’t take Lindsay or Brunner long to get used to the lanes and environment.
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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.”