Mason Girls, Jackson NW Boys Earn 1st Titles

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 6, 2020

WATERFORD – The Mason girls bowling team probably felt like it won two championships at Friday’s Division 2 Finals at Century Bowl. 

First, the Bulldogs had to have felt like they won a championship after the semifinal round, when they did something no team had done during the previous six Division 2 Tournaments – beat Flint Kearsley.

Not deterred by the six-time reigning champion, Mason recorded a 1,245-1,157 win over Kearsley in one semifinal to earn a major boost of adrenaline. 

“It really did,” Mason coach Terry Dormer said. “It gave us a big lift. It showed us that we could compete.”

But as significant as the win was over Kearsley, there was still a big obstacle to conquer for the Bulldogs.

Waiting in the final was Tecumseh, the Division 2 runner-up the last two years, champing at the bit to take home the championship trophy. 

But Mason overcame that challenge in the closest possible manner. 

By just one pin, Mason won its first MHSAA Finals girls bowling title, outlasting Tecumseh 1,185-1,184. 

Trailing by three pins after the two Baker games, Mason earned an 849-845 win in the regular game to claim the title. 

“We had to adjust a bit on the lanes,” said Dormer, who concluded his 15th year as coach at Mason. “But they came back and did it.”

There was also a first-time champion on the boys side of the tournament. 

Jackson Northwest claimed its first title in another close title match, toppling Cadillac 1,320-1,300 in the final. 

Cadillac held a 23-pin edge after the first Baker game and a nine-pin lead going into the regular game, but Jackson Northwest hit bigger shots to prevail. 

Northwest lost in the round of eight to eventual champion New Boston Huron last year, and coach Gerry Lobdell said that loss and experience served as motivation throughout the entire tournament – even when falling behind early.

“We were just trying to keep them calm,” Lobdell said. “Just one frame at a time for them. Just fill frames. That’s what we talk about all the time.”

Both the Mason girls and the Jackson Northwest boys excelled from the start, as Mason finished first out of the qualifying block with 3,063 pins, while Jackson Northwest was second out of its qualifying block with 3,514. 

Before beating Kearsley in the semifinals, Mason knocked off Muskegon Mona Shores in the quarterfinals by a score of 1,214-1,096. 

Jackson Northwest earned a three-pin win over Grand Rapids Northview in the quarterfinals (1,333-1,330) before knocking off Iron Mountain in a semifinal, 1,309-1,242. 

Cadillac finished first out of the qualifying block with 3,532 pins before beating Ferndale in the quarterfinals, 1,284-1,163, and Huron in the semifinals, 1,313-1,287. 

Cadillac appeared in good shape with a lead going into the regular game against Jackson Northwest, but saw Jackson Northwest deliver a few more strikes to win.

The Vikings reached the semifinals last season. 

“It’s been an up-and-down season for us,” Cadillac coach Jeremy Moore said. “It just wasn’t our day, I guess. That team we bowled against, they threw good shots when they needed to. That’s really what it came down to.”

Visibly heartbroken afterward over falling short of a title for the third straight year and in such close fashion, the Tecumseh girls had finished third out of the qualifying block before beating Cedar Springs in the quarterfinals, 1,348-1,181. 

Tecumseh then knocked off Carleton Airport in the semifinals, 1,188-1,073 to earn a spot in the final once again. 

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