Kearsley Sweeps D2 Bowling Titles

February 28, 2014

By Sarah Jaeger
Special to Second Half

WATERFORD –Flint Kearsley swept the MHSAA Division Bowling Finals as the boys took home their first championship trophy and the girls claimed their second title in three years Friday.

"It's awesome. It'll never get old," Kearsley girls coach Robert Ploof said.

"Just to have the whole program be successful is just a dream come true. We had our AD here. We had a principal. We had a superintendent here. I mean, just to have everyone here to see it is amazing. It couldn't be any better."

But who knew the secret to winning an MHSAA championship was a good book?

It turns out a paperback was the calming factor to help the girls team through the brackets and eventually clinch the title over Bay City Western in the final match at Century Lanes.

Ploof would have his girls read chapters from "With Winning In Mind" by Olympic gold medalist Lanny Basshamm to keep them focused throughout the competition.

"What a fantastic book,” Ploof said. “It keeps their mind on something else, and it's a mental thing that gets their head in the game as well."

While the book may have keep their heads in the game, a motto kept their hearts in it.

 "One Team, One Heart, On Goal," said junior Kayla Emmendorfer, who also was part of the 2012 championship team and threw a 233 during Friday’s final match against Western.

"From the beginning, we fill out a sheet of paper what are our main goals, and we all said state championship, regionals, and conference, and we did it. So it worked."

It worked so well, in fact, the Flint Kearsley boys adopted their own motto.

"’Never give up, never let up’ and they've done that all year long," coach Bart Rutledge said. "Never once have they thought they were out of it."

While the Kearsley boys led the morning qualifying block with a score of 3,548, they had to fight back in the Semifinals and Final after falling behind in the Baker set.

"We started that last match and everyone was tight and a little nervous. Now they know what to expect, and I think it will be better for them," Rutledge said.

He will have seven bowlers returning next year as seniors. However, the championship brought this year's lone senior, Peter Sorsen, to tears when accepting the team trophy.

"I've seen it since I was a freshman and wanted to do this, and now I'm here," Sorsen said. "I couldn't ask for a better team or a better coach."

On their way to the championship, the Kearsley boys beat eighth-seeded Ortonville-Brandon and fifth-seeded Mount Pleasant before facing Marysville, a team with a Regional championship and undefeated record, in the Final.

"I don't think I've ever sat on the edge of my seat so much in my life. It was just a great day," Marysville coach Debbie Lietzow said.

"I'm very proud of them. All the way to the end. They came into it wanting to win. That's all I can ask."

"I think we did really good," Marysville junior Brandon Armstead added. "It was really hard toward the end, but I still think we did a good job."

For their road to the championship, the Flint Kearsley girls faced off against eighth-seeded Ionia and fifth-seeded Escanaba before meeting third-seeded Bay City Western in the Final.

"They did awesome today," Bay City Western coach Rick Dodick said of his team. "We worked hard all year, and this was one of their goals – that we get back to the state tournament for the fourth year in a row. Last year we finished third. This year we finished second. So we've been improving every year, so I'm very proud of them and very proud of the effort they put forth today."

However, getting to the championship match takes more than just getting lucky one day of the year.

"They worked very hard and took practice very serious, and worked hard as a team this year," said Dodick.

Despite making it to the MHSAA Finals in previous years, Western senior Haley Delestowicz admitted she still had some jitters during her last tournament.

"I don't usually get nervous, but today I can say I was a little nervous and I was super excited to take a run at the title,” she said. “We bowled against some great teams, and they were great competition. But you had to keep your cool to make your spares and strike out."

Click for full girls results and full boys results.

PHOTO: The Flint Kearsley bowling teams pose with their MHSAA championship trophies Friday. (Photo by Sarah Jaeger.)

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