Hudsonville Girls Celebrate 1st Title, Salem Boys Take Championship Step

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for

March 26, 2021

ALLEN PARK – The bowling season that almost wasn’t saw a first-time champion and a 2020 runner-up take the next step Friday at the Division 1 Team Finals at Thunderbowl Lanes.

Hudsonville’s girls earned their first Finals title in this sport by defeating Belleville in their championship match, while the Salem boys clinched their third team title against Macomb Dakota after finishing runner-up to Utica Eisenhower a year ago.

Dakota previously won Division 1 in 2011 and 2012. But Salem – the champion in 2017 and 2013 – ledfrom start to finish to capture the 2021 title. 

Salem’s boys led 347-315 after the Baker round, and the Cougars would need a big game in singles to wrestle away the lead.

Connor Rogus came through with a 259, but it wasn’t enough as Zander Craft’s 253 and Brendan Chorian’s 227 paced the champs to a 1,404-1,309 win.

“We had our lows and our highs, but we started striking in the finals,’’ said Craft. “My shot was there for the entire finals. I shot 221, 223, 253 so I had a good look all day.’’

Hudsonville’s girls had fallen behind 301-297 going into singles play, but their ability to make shots proved to be the difference as it captured the school’s first bowling title. Belleville had eight straight opens during singles play and couldn’t stay in contention.

Hudsonville D1 Girls Bowling Champions

McKenna Hendrickson, the only senior in the Hudsonville lineup, was in tears after her team came through with the 1,149 to 1,122 win.

“This was my last game, and I wasn’t worried,’’ said Hendrickson. “The girls knew what to do. I’ve lost so much this year because of the COVID. I didn’t even have a prom. This is such a great way to go out. It means so much.’’

Brownstown Woodhaven dominated the boys qualifying round with a score of 3,530 to finish first ahead of Waterford Kettering’s 3,399, which was just three pins better than Salem’s 3,396.

Woodhaven’s run was short-lived. Belleville, the eighth seed, jumped out to an early lead in the Baker format, and the Tigers were great in singles, eliminating the top seed, 1,312 to 1,151.

Dakota had used a 1,030 in the last game of team qualifying to jump into fourth place as three Macomb Area Conference schools – Dakota, St. Clair Shores Lakeview and Utica Ford – made the top eight. Belleville squeaked into eighth with 3,228, 19 pins better than Holt.

Dakota defeated Lakeview, 1,208-1,159 to face Belleville in the semifinals. In the other semi, Salem – which had eliminated Plymouth 1,419-1,208 –  took on Waterford Kettering, which had bounced Utica Ford 1,309-1,286.

Dakota sophomore Dylan Maurer shot 276 in the semifinals to lead the Cougars to a 1,499-1,398 victory over Belleville. Salem advanced to the final with a 1,306-1,277 victory over Kettering. 

In the girls division, Westland John Glenn was the high qualifier at 3,316 to outdistance Davison at 3,243.

Glenn avoided any possible upset in the first round by extending its Baker lead in singles play, taking out eighth seed Salem, 1,320-1,032. Belleville advanced to the semifinals with a convincing victory over Zeeland, 1,204-1,153. Davison, a perennial threat, eliminated Holt, 1,290-1,111, to advance to the semifinal against Hudsonville, which pounded Midland 1,189-1,101.

The westside school prevailed in the semis, dousing second-seed Davison 1,335-1,250 as Hendrickson led the winners with a 248 score.

Hudsonville became the third straight Division 1 girls champion from the Ottawa-Kent Conference.

Click for bracket results: BOYS | GIRLS

Gobles' Brunner Closes with 3rd Title, Nouvel's McCarthy Locks Up No. 1

By Tim Robinson
Special for

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.”

Division 4 Final Results - Boys | Girls