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. 

Click for full singles scores.