Division 3 Champions Ride Fast Starts to Historic Finishes
By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com
March 5, 2022
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.)
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.”