Johnson, Cantrell Rally for D4 Victories

March 3, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – MacKenzie Johnson wanted to thank Vandercook Lake girls coach Todd Reichard for making her into a championship bowler. And she wanted to thank assistant Kenla Kelly, her “emotional coach.”

But after feeling her spirits dive with a 125 game to start match play at Saturday’s Division 4 Singles Finals, she needed a little more help.

“I said to myself, what would Dad say to me, because freshman year he passed away four days after this event,” Johnson said. “And he’d tell me to calm down and really just be myself, and if I was myself, I could beat anyone.

“I just became myself, I made my shots, I calmed down and I let my emotions go.”

Brad Johnson died after a fight with inoperable brain cancer March 9, 2016. Just under two years later, his daughter came back to average 186 over her final seven match play games at M-66 Bowl and win this season’s championship.

“He’d say he’s very proud,” Johnson said. “This is all he ever wanted for me, to give it my best, and today I gave it my all.”

Johnson defeated Beaverton senior Victoria Ivey 410-323 in their championship match, rolling a match play-best 231 in her final game.

On the boys side, Genesee senior Luke Cantrell claimed the title with a 356-354 win over Vandercook Lake senior Keegan Campbell.

Campbell led the match 204-157 after the first of the two-game series. But Cantrell improved 42 pins over his final 10 frames for a second straight close finish – he also won his semifinal by just 10 pins.

Cantrell closed his career with four Finals singles appearances and had finished runner-up to St. Charles’ three-time champion Kyle Tuttle in 2016.

“I struggled, but I picked myself up,” Cantrell said. “In the qualifying (I) shot a couple 170s that kinda hurt me. My coaches helped a lot. I made a couple ball changes, and controlled my speed a little bit more.

“(I) just throw the ball good and never give up. In the ninth frame I had a really good feeling, and it came my way I guess.”

Johnson rolled her team’s high regular game as the Jayhawks won the team championship match Friday against Brown City.

She’d clinched the singles victory by the 10th frame Saturday, but still banged through three strikes to finish the day.

“I couldn’t believe our team did it yesterday; we all did it as one. Today, I surprised myself by doing this,” Johnson said. “At any point I could’ve opened, and she could’ve got me. It wasn’t over until that third shot in the 10th frame.

“I never count myself out, but I never count myself in until it’s done, either.”

Click for full girls results and boys results.

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