Kearsley Girls Erase Last Year's Early Exit with 9th Title in 11 Seasons

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 1, 2024

WATERFORD — It might seem impossible that a team with eight MHSAA Finals titles over a span of 10 years would ever enter anything hungry for redemption. 

But that was the case for Flint Kearsley’s girls bowling team going into the Division 2 Final on Friday at Century Bowl.

Last year, the Hornets suffered a disappointment they weren’t used to feeling, getting knocked out in the Quarterfinal round after earning the No. 1 seed during the qualifying block. 

That defeat was way more on the minds of Kearsley all offseason, rather than the previous eight state titles. 

“That was a debacle,” first-year Kearsley head coach Jeff Vanier said. 

But that failure last year was long forgotten when this year’s competition was over, as Kearsley reclaimed its throne by beating Bay City John Glenn in the championship match, 3-1. 

This was the first year of a new format in the knockout stage where the team that won three out of five Baker games was declared the winner. The previous format awarded the team with the most pins following two Baker games and a regular game. 

John Glenn won the first game of the Final, 177-152, but Kearsley stormed back winning the second game 173-143, the third game 235-134 and the fourth game 165-122 to clinch its ninth title in 11 years. 

The most pivotal moment for Kearsley might have come in a Quarterfinal match against Sturgis. Kearsley lost the first game (171-159) and won the second (179-145) before both teams struggled in the third game. 

The Hornets ended up prevailing, 128-124, rallying after anchor bowler Ava Boggs struck out in the final frame.

“That gave us a 2-1 lead, and we went on from there,” Vanier said.

Kearsley finished off Sturgis in the fourth game, 210-165, and then recorded a three-game sweep of New Boston Huron to advance to the Final.

John Glenn was No. 1 out of the qualifying block before earning a five-game win over Marshall in the Quarterfinals and a four-game triumph over Tecumseh in the Semifinals. 

“We made a lot of spares today, but when we got to the final match, we weren’t making spares,” John Glenn head coach Andy Gwizdala said. “During the Baker matches earlier in the day, we averaged 184, which means we made spares. We were consistent and made spares. That’s what we came here to do. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish it in the Final.”

Still, there was a lot for John Glenn to feel good about. 

The Bobcats avenged losses from the Quarterfinal round of the tournament each of the last two years and don’t graduate any bowlers as they look ahead to 2024-25.

“We hope to be back next year,” Gwizdala said. 

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