Grass Lake Boys, Birch Run Girls Enjoy Title Time Again
March 26, 2021
JACKSON – Grass Lake got to experience a Finals championship in Division 4 last season. And that was something they didn’t want to miss this weekend – regardless of a switch into Division 3 for this winter.
The Warriors may have faced larger opponents this time at Jax 60, but the result indeed was the same as they clinched their second-straight championship and third overall defeating Boyne City 1,357-1,179.
Meanwhile, Birch Run’s girls claimed their first championship since 2017 after finishing runner-up two seasons ago, out-rolling Armada 1,200-1,152.
“We’ve had that feeling right from the beginning of the year,” Grass Lake coach Jeff Wyers said. “These boys wanted it bad. It’s been in their system since last year.”
A year ago the Warriors entered match play as the top seed and defeated Farwell in the final by 153 pins.
Grass Lake entered match play as the second seed this time and immediately got a challenge from Portland before prevailing by 21 pins. Then came a 282-pin win over Napoleon in the semifinal before the Warriors swept both the Baker (366-329) and regular game (991-850) portions of the final.
Junior Jack Marshall led three Grass Lake bowlers over 200 in the regular game with a 238, followed by junior Brenton Cochrane with a 228 and senior Sean Wyers with a 208. Senior Michael Deming rolled a 185 to lead Boyne.
Sean Wyers is his team’s only senior.
“We wouldn’t have made it here if everybody hadn’t pitched a little bit in,” he said. “It wasn’t just one of us, it was all of us. Everybody had their time to shine.”
Marjorrie Marlett and her teammates had been waiting to enjoy their own championship as Birch Run last won when these seniors were in eighth grade in 2017.
“I’ve been waiting four years for this, and I finally got it with my team,” said Marlett, who joined the varsity as a freshman. “We were just coming in to have fun and experience states just for states – having fun and enjoying ourselves and putting up a fight and never just getting down.”
Armada took the Bakers 365-343. But Birch Run followed junior Jillian Inman’s 215 and junior Cheyenne Brown’s 180 to claim the regular games 857-787.
“It is just so fulfilling. I’m so proud of the girls,” Birch Run coach Jane Severs said. “They worked so hard and put everything into it. I’m just overwhelmed for them. Their teamwork, and they motivate each other beyond words. They had fun, and they just went out there and screamed and yelled and had a good time.”
Birch Run, the second seed, downed Hudsonville Unity Christian and Jonesville on the way to the championship match. Armada entered match play the eighth seed but eliminated Caro and then Hillsdale to advance.
Senior Samantha Dulz led Armada with a 202 regular game in the final. The runner-up finish was the highest in program history.
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.”