Juniors Thrive in Sweeping D2 Finals

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

March 7, 2020

WATERFORD – Warren Woods Tower bowling coach Craig Geml isn’t bashful about proclaiming what a bright future Noah Tafanelli has in the sport. 

“He’s definitely going to bowl at a high-level college program,” Geml said of his junior standout. 

Anyone at Century Bowl who witnessed Tafanelli’s performance Saturday at the MHSAA Division 2 Singles Finals could certainly see that likely will be the case. 

Tafanelli dominated from start to finish, earning the top spot out of the qualifying block and staying hot from there, winning the title with relative ease. 

Tafanelli didn’t have a score lower than 213 nor a margin of victory less than 46 pins on the way to his first title.

“The first couple of rounds, I was nervous,” Tafanelli said. “But I got on my pace the last couple of rounds.”

In the final, Tafanelli beat Grand Rapids Northview senior Dan Frey 494-410. That followed a 466-409 win over Northview freshman Kyle Pranger in the semifinals, a 466-366 win over Lowell senior Collin Clark in the quarterfinals and a 439-393 win over Chelsea junior Luis Carvallo in the round of 16. 

“My sophomore year, I placed 11th,” Tafanelli said. “It helped me a lot. Just recognizing the format and recognizing the people around.”

On the girls side, another junior took home a Finals title for the first time. 

Flint Kearsley’s Megan Timm found a groove in the elimination round after finishing 15th out of the qualifying block, eventually beating Carleton Airport freshman Ryan Giese in the final, 374-353. 

Timm held a 182-141 lead after the first game before holding off a hard-charging Giese, who won the second game 212-192. 

But it wasn’t enough to topple Timm, who left the alley with tears of joys less than a day after leaving in tears of sorrow after Kearsley’s team saw its run of sixth straight titles come to end with a semifinal loss. 

“I couldn’t tell you how I feel,” Timm said. “I can’t believe it just happened. I don’t believe it happened. I just worked hard and made my spares.”

Timm’s run began with a 355-327 win over Cedar Springs senior Omani Morales in the round of 16, then continued with a 343-329 win over Bay City John Glenn sophomore Julia Struck in the quarterfinals.

Timm then ran up against Woods Tower freshman Kayla Tafanelli, Noah’s sister, in the semifinals, earning a 390-363 victory to advance to the final. 

“She’s been great all season long,” said Kearsley coach Rob Ploof. “She got a new ball in the first (part) of February and that’s the ball she won a state title with. My nephew drilled it up for her. She’s just a great kid and deserves that.”

Both Noah Tafanelli and Timm will prepare next for an offseason of figuring out college plans and planning for repeat opportunities in 2021. 

Tafanelli was the first boys bowler from Woods Tower to win an MHSAA Finals title, while Timm was Kearsley’s third girls bowler to win it all. 

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 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.”

Division 4 Final Results - Boys | Girls