WATERFORD - Grand Rapids Northview’s Kyle Pranger was sent to Century Lanes in Waterford this weekend on a mission.
“This one was for Dan,” the sophomore said, shortly after capturing the championship at the Division 2 Bowling Singles Finals.
The Dan he spoke of was former teammate Dan Frey, who graduated last year after making it all the way to the championship match before falling to Warren Woods Tower’s Noah Tafanelli.
“He sent Kyle here and said, ‘You better not lose again,’” Northview head coach Harold Klukowski said, laughing.
Both Frey and Pranger reached the final four a year ago. Frey moved on, while Pranger lost in the semifinals. On Saturday, Pranger battled the elements, overcoming an up-and-down performance in qualifying block play before maneuvering his way through four rounds of match play, capping things off with a 416-388 victory over junior Damein Milliman of Jackson Northwest.
Pranger put together six straight strikes in the second game, clinching his victory on his second ball in the 10th frame. He needed to pick up one last spare.
“I knew that if I didn’t do something, he was going to take advantage,” Pranger said. “I needed to put some pressure on him. Having lost in the semifinals last year, I just wanted to come back and bowl better and win.”
Having played in countless tournaments outside of high school bowling, Pranger has come up clutch many times before. He just needed to execute.
“He’s been in these kinds of situations before,” Klukowski said. “Covering that 10 pin was clutch, but he’s experienced that before. The hard part was the mental grind during qualifying. The second 160 took him out of the cut after Game 4. He had to bounce back and grind because the pair (of lanes) that we ended up getting was touched by urethane, so he had to find a way to make it work, to stay alive and make the cut.”
Pranger was the ninth seed entering match play. He defeated eighth-seeded Zeke Dykstra, his teammate, in his first match, then went on to beat (No. 1) Owen Williams of Tecumseh and (No. 4) Brayden Metcalf of Jackson Northwest to reach the final.
Milliman was 11th in qualifying and beat teammate (No. 6) Shon Breslin, (No. 14) Chris Clark of Bay City John Glenn and (No. 7) Howard Hammond of Flint Kearsley on his way to the championship match.
Williams, just a freshman, bowled 1,470 in qualifying block play. He rolled three of the five highest games of the day, 289, 279 and 264. Dearborn Divine Child’s Noell Jackson was the No. 2 seed after qualifying with a 1,319.
St. Clair Shores Lake Shore’s Dani DeCruydt rallied from 54 pins down to capture her school’s first-ever bowling championship. The senior trailed Kearsley’s Allison Robbins entering Game 2, only to quickly erase the deficit by striking in each of her first four frames.
“I’ve been through it before,” DeCruydt said. “I just think, ‘One shot at a time.’ I could tell in the second game she was getting a little nervous, so I tried to step on it and get the lead back. At that point, I knew I had the lead back and that I just needed to get my spares and keep it going.”
DeCruydt bowled a 243 in Game 2, finishing with a 426-402 victory over Robbins, who entered match play as the No. 1 seed.
Robbins led 237-183 after the first game and looked poised to win another Finals championship; her team captured the team title Friday. But DeCruydt had other plans. She bowled a clean second game to complete the comeback.
“To be honest with you, I’m not nervous when Dani bowls,” Lake Shore head coach Greg Villasurda said. “The things that she does, they’ve become normal now. When she was down that big total, I just told her, ‘Dani, you’re going to find your shot, you’re going to get there and bang them out.’ And she did it. And (Robbins) had a couple bad breaks and that’s just bowling. It happens. It happened to Dani last year.
“Dani stayed with it. She never gets nervous. It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
DeCruydt finished runner-up as a sophomore in Division 1, then struggled as the 1-seed a year ago, falling in the first round — again in Division 1. She took from those experiences and put it all together Saturday afternoon.
“I learned to stay calm, play one shot at a time,” she said. “I was rushing last year. This year I slowed everything down. It feels pretty good.”
DeCruydt was the third seed after qualifying play. She defeated Kearsley seniors Allison Eible and Emilea Sturk in the first two rounds of match play before knocking out Mason senior Leigha Rue in the semifinal. Rue was the No. 2 seed.
Robbins earned the No. 1 seed after bowling a five-game qualifying block score of 1,287. Wayland sophomore Kadence Bottrall was the No. 2 seed.
MUSKEGON – As Hudson boys bowling coach Mike Longmire explained it Saturday, his community is known athletically for football, wrestling and competitive cheer. In fact, the wrestling team repeated as Division 4 champion a week ago, and the cheer team won its fifth-straight Division 4 title Friday.
But sophomore Carter Fournier’s performance to cap the weekend at least puts bowling in the picture.
Fournier became his school’s first MHSAA Finals champion in this sport, qualifying as the 10th seed for match play and surviving a series of strong challenges before breaking away for a 444-392 win over Allen Park Cabrini junior Bryce Cadaret in the championship match at Northway Lanes.
Fournier had started the morning’s six-game qualifying block with a pair of 222 games, but dipped to 148 in the fourth. He rebounded in a big way with a 238 in his final game of qualifying to finish with a 1,194 total – and with the separation between 10th and missing the cut in 17th only 48 pins.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make the cut,” Fournier said. “I made it as the 10th seed, and I just kept grinding away in match play – and winning.”
First up was Burton Atherton junior Michael Demey, and Fournier won by six pins, 385-379. Next was New Lothrop’s Ashtin Andres and another lean win, 390-388.
Fournier rolled a 201 and 258 in the Semifinal to get past Jonesville’s Andrew Sackett 459-431. He carried the momentum of that 258 into the championship match, rolling a 236 to Cadaret’s 190 in the first game and taking the second 208-202.
“He was throwing the ball really well early on, but he was down every match we started, except for the final one,” Longmire said. “(I) just tried to keep him positive and keep him going and not give up, and he did a great job. He didn’t get emotional or anything; he was just steady and made good shots.”
Cadaret finished runner-up for the second-straight season. He qualified for match play as the fourth seed and dominated on his way to the Final with wins of 414-341, 469-351 and 510-364 in the Semifinal.