JACKSON — Slow and steady wins the race, the saying goes.
But in Saturday’s Division 3 Singles Bowling Finals, a fast start proved key.
Croswell-Lexington’s Brooklyn Butler started her championship match with seven consecutive strikes, had a spare, and threw three more strikes to finish with a 279 en route to a 481-408 victory over 2021 champion Elizabeth Teuber of Flint Powers Catholic at Jax 60.
“This was my first time at states,” Butler said, “so I wasn’t sure of how it would turn out.”
At the suggestion of Pioneers coach Fred Kautz, Butler switched to a lighter ball during the semifinals.
“It felt comfortable,” she said.
It was the second time in as many weeks Butler and Teuber had met in a tournament final. They squared off in a Regional at Richmond on Feb. 26, with Teuber edging Butler by 14 pins to finish first.
But on Saturday, it was Butler’s day.
“Bowling a 279 is going to be hard to beat,” Teuber said. “She had a 70-pin lead going into the second game, so I knew I had a chance, but it was going to be tough to beat.”
Teuber bowled well in defeat. Her 408 would have been enough to win in three of the previous five years.
A sophomore, Teuber said she would work on converting spares in preparation for next season.
For Butler, a senior, her first trip to the Finals was a bit of a whirlwind.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out,” she said. “I was a little nervous going in, but that first game helped.”
“She’s a level-headed lady,” Kautz said. “Does her job, is easy-going, and the mental game is there.”
You could say the same about Cheboygan’s Cole Swanberg, a junior who was making his third trip to the Finals and became the Chiefs’ second individual champion, after Dawson Campbell in 2019.
“I don’t smile when I’m bowling, because I’m focused, zoned in,” he said after defeating Tyler Downs of Ogemaw Heights 471-337.
His 259 in the first game allowed him to cruise to the victory.
“I was just planning on bowling the best I can do,” Swanberg said. “Don’t leave any open frames and hit my mark. I went 259. It gave me a 60-pin lead after the first game, and I could relax in the second.”
He admits his concentration does rattle some of his fans, including his mother.
“Oh, yeah,” he said, chuckling. “They tell me to try to smile at least part of the time.”
But it’s that focus that led to victory.
“He has good mechanics and good form,” Chiefs coach Brian Taylor said. “Nothing rattles him. It doesn’t matter if he throws a bad split or 4-5 strikes in a row. He’s the same way going into every frame. He takes his time, one frame at a time, and does his job. He doesn’t pay attention to anything else but what he needs to do, and that works for him.”
And the process worked Saturday.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “I’ve been working since my freshman year to do it, so it means a lot.’
Both Swanberg and Downs are juniors, meaning they could meet again next year.
“That’s the goal every year,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to show up and do what you can, and sometimes things play out and sometimes they don’t.”
PHOTOS (Top) Croswell-Lexington’s Brooklyn Butler warms up for Saturday's Division 3 championship match. (Middle) Cheboygan's Cole Swanberg celebrates with his coaches. (Click for more from Champions Photography.)
Join Elizabeth Coon as they take a look at all of the action from the 2023 Team Bowling Finals.
Congratulations to our champions:
Division 1 Boys - Wayne Memorial
Division 1 Girls - Holt
Division 2 Boys - Flint Kearsley
Division 2 Girls - Sparta
Division 3 Boys - Lansing Catholic
Division 3 Girls - Flint Powers
Division 4 Boys - Grass Lake
Division 4 Girls - Taylor Trillium Academy