Clarenceville's Johnson Overcomes Blistered Thumb to Roll Clinching 234

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 2, 2024

WATERFORD — It was hard to tell where Livonia Clarenceville junior Caitlyn Johnson spent more time during the Division 2 Singles Bowling Finals on Saturday – on the lanes or in another part of the building getting treatment. 

Last week during the Regional tournament, Johnson said she started to get a blister on the thumb of her throwing hand, which is pretty much bowling’s equivalent to a sprinter in track getting a lame hamstring. 

Johnson managed to qualify out of the Regional. But needless to say, the preparation for the Final wasn’t what she’d hoped it would be. 

“I’ve been putting Neosporin and Band-Aids on all week,” Johnson said. “I haven’t practiced the last two days either in the hopes it would get better. Just trying to keep it covered.”

Those watching Johnson bowl throughout the day certainly couldn’t tell she was in pain, as she was on top of her game in winning her first career individual title. 

Johnson topped Grand Rapids Northview senior Kelly Hartman in the Final, winning the first game 179-170 before rolling a 234 in the second game to earn a 413-332 victory. 

“I just had to keep my head in the game,” said Johnson, whose previous best finish was a Quarterfinal appearance two years ago as a freshman. “Make my spares and make good shots. If it was a bad break or bad shot, reset, come back and get it back the next time. That was my mindset all day.”

Clarenceville head coach John Makar said Johnson has been consistent all year, sporting an average of more than 200. 

“She placed seventh in the qualifying round, and after she had the next application (on her thumb), she just took off and just kept on going, Makar said. “She has a good hook that she throws, down and in and out and in. She adapted to the lanes really well.”

Johnson defeated Fenton senior Jena Fijolek in the round of 16 (363-338), Charlotte junior Lori Jackson in the Quarterfinals (428-395) and then New Boston Huron junior Olivia Demick (381-335) in the Semifinals to set up the championship match against Hartman, who was the 16th and final seed out of the qualifying block. 

Hartman defeated No. 1 seed and New Boston Huron junior Addison Dolencic in the round of 16 (332-283), Hudsonville Unity Christian senior Jennifer Mohr in the Quarterfinals (390-330) and Flint Kearsley senior Ava Boggs in the Semifinals (344-293). 

Now, Johnson will get plenty of time to heal and celebrate in hopes she’ll be back in the tournament next year in a position to repeat. 

“It’s been a battle all day,” she said. 

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