By Scott Keyes
Special for Second Half
STERLING HEIGHTS – When Davison junior Taylor Davis was 8 years old, her father Bryan pulled her aside and asked her what she wanted out of her short bowling career.
Mind you she was only 8 at the time, but the answer she gave proved she was way wise beyond her years.
"I want to win a state championship and bowl a 300 game," she said.
Little did Bryan know those words would become reality nearly a decade after she said them, as Taylor Davis became only the fourth in MHSAA girls bowling history to bowl a 300 game in the singles portion of the tournament, and the first in a Final on Saturday at Sterling Lanes in Sterling Heights.
Davis captured the Division 1 title with a 479-410 victory over Julia Huren of Westland John Glenn.
Davis also helped Davison capture the team title Friday.
"I knew it was going to happen eventually, but to bowl your first 300 game on high school bowling’s biggest stage is almost unheard of," Bryan Davis said. "To see my daughter step up and roll that final strike for her first 300 game was almost surreal. Then to watch her win a state championship is something I will always remember."
Taylor Davis admits she had butterflies in her stomach, but knew if she threw a good shot good things would happen.
"It was amazing,“ Taylor Davis said. “I’ve always wanted to shoot a 300. I was always wondering when I would be able to. To shoot it at the state finals is the best feeling ever. ... After I bowled in the final four on (lanes) five and six I kind of found a new shot. I tried it on seven and eight and it was fine. It worked.”
Kara Richard of Tecumseh had a 300 game twice in 2008 in Division 2 during qualifying and then the Round of 16, while Rachel Ringrose of South Lyon accomplished the feat in 2007 qualifying and Felicia Goll did the same for Harper Woods Regina in 2005.
Davis summed up the weekend's efforts in one statement.
"To be able to win a state title with my team, then come back and win an individual championship and then shoot my first 300 game with my friends and family watching is something I will always remember," she said.
"I can't wait to get back here and do it all over again next season."
For Warren Mott’s Brad Delmarle, the long grind of a 14-game day came to an end as he downed junior Gabe Cassise of Wyandotte Roosevelt, 459-393, to claim a title for the Marauders.
“It was a grind,” said Delmarle. “This is a big accomplishment. A lot of practice, and I’m very proud of what I was able to accomplish.”
Delmarle started both games of the Final with a three-bagger, forcing Cassise to play catch up. In the end, Delmarle was too strong down the stretch and came away with the championship.
"The state finals is all about mental preparation," he said. "We are all tired out there, but you can't let that get to you. You have to keep focus and continue to throw good shots. I couldn't be happier with my performance today."
In the girls Semifinal, Farmington Hills Harrison’s Candyce Bradley had Davis on the ropes after the first game, up 29 pins going into the second. Davis would later prevail 392-358 over Bradley.
In the other Semifinal, Huren dominated Stephanie Schalk of St. Clair Shores Lakeview, posting a 257 game on the way to winning 430-361.
Open frames were Jordan Nunn’s undoing in a boys Semifinal. The Flint Carman-Ainsworth senior fell to Cassise, 444-415. Delmarle prevailed in his semifinal over Mike Maguran of Sterling Heights Stevenson, 423-370.
"I couldn't string together anything in the semis and I fell behind," Nunn said. "I qualified fifth on the day, and I was extremely happy to get as far as I did. Watching Taylor throw 300 today was pretty cool. It was definitely a great day for the Saginaw Valley League."
PHOTOS: (Top) Davison’s Taylor Davis unloads the final roll of her 300 game at Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) Davis, right, and boys champion Brad Delmarle of Warren Mott. (Photos by Scott Keyes.)
— Geoff Robinson (@geoffsports) March 5, 2016
Rogers City’s bowling team is on a roll. And the Hurons haven’t even had their first competition of the season.
Rogers City has a decorated past, including winning the first state bowling championship in 1999, organized by the Bowling Center Association of Michigan, against a field including schools of all sizes and five years before the addition of MHSAA Finals in the sport. The boys team also was the Division 4 team runner-up at the first Class C-D Finals hosted by the MHSAA in 2004.
The Hurons hope to return to those glory days by bringing back experienced bowlers on both the boys and girls teams. Rogers City last qualified teams for the Finals in 2020 – when both the boys and girls advanced – and both teams hope to make a run at the Northern Michigan Conference title and land a spot at this season’s Finals in March.
The boys did find success last year — with just four bowlers — placing ahead of a handful of teams at its Regional. This year, Rogers City has a full boys team, and more, including junior Gavin Rhode, who qualified for the Singles Finals last year. The Hurons also are returning senior Conner Muller and sophomore Gabe Mina; Muller narrowly missed qualifying for the Finals last winter. And they are excited to see how first-year bowlers Blaise Szatkowski, Cooper Heinzel, George Karsten, Jacob Wickersham and Ryan Morgan perform.
The girls are returning seniors Arianna Anderson and Sophia Mina and sophomore Olivia Reyes. First-year bowlers Ruby Svay – an exchange student – and freshman Brooke Crawford compose the rest of the squad.
Both the boys and the girls have added strong bowlers with incoming freshmen, including Wickersham, a 180-average bowler.
“With a small school you kind of know what is coming along,” long-time coach Brian Bannasch said. “Even with our limited numbers last year, we were still competitive.”
The Hurons will open their season Jan. 6. As has been the case for years, matches will take place on Saturdays for optimal lane availability.
“After the success previous to COVID, the last couple years have really been a letdown just not having enough bodies,” Bannasch acknowledged. “We still sent kids to the state finals individually, but team-wise were just lacking numbers with a small school that has under 175 in the high school.
“When you lose any number of kids, it is tough to replace them,” he continued. “We are really excited to have numbers this year.”
The bowling program has been battling lower overall school enrollment and competing with basketball and wrestling teams for roster numbers.
Long hours in the alley for practice, traveling for matches and competing are paying off for the Hurons. Those long hours are the same for the coaches, forcing absence from the family business.
But it’s being done with a focus on a road trip to the Division 4 Finals in March, at Northway Lanes in Muskegon.
The boys and girls Regionals, hosted by Traverse City Christian, will be held at Lucky Jacks in Traverse City.
“We definitely have individuals expecting to qualify as individuals on the boys side,” Bannasch said. “We have three girls that have bowled before and fewer teams in each Regional.
“We had a pretty powerful Regional,” he continued. “Maybe with fewer teams, it could work to our advantage.”
Bannasch, whose family owns the local bowling alley Nautical Lanes, has been the boys and girls bowling coach from the beginning at Rogers City. The school started with a club team prior to making it a varsity sport.
Bannasch has seen a lot of talented bowlers develop through his youth programs and then vie for championships in high school. The Hurons often have had more than a dozen bowlers on the boys team.
Bannasch points to every bowler in Rogers City history competing in at least one varsity match every year as key to the team’s historical success. His unique philosophy of participation often has paid dividends.
“One of the things that has helped us be successful is that I have a little different philosophy than most coaches,” Bannasch noted. “We’ve had years where we’ve had 12 or 14 boys and 10 girls.
“We had JV matches, but we never consider it JV – they were all part of the varsity bowling team,” he continued. “In the next year, they have experienced that and know what the varsity match is all about.”
Bannasch also has watched other conference schools win or contend for Finals titles, something he points to with pride.
Bannasch spotlighted Cheboygan’s boys having won the Division 2 title in 2009 and Boyne City’s boys — as a newer program — finishing Division 3 runners-up in 2020 and 2021. Cheboygan’s girls finished Division 3 runners-up in 2022.
“Our success has been great, but I take just as much pride in the success of our conference,” Bannasch said. “We’re such a close-knit conference, it is great to see anybody up here be successful at it.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Rogers City’s bowling teams have high aspirations this winter with their first competitions coming up next month. (Middle) Gavin Rhode, a Finals qualifier last season, practices recently. (Below) Arianna Anderson, left, and Sophia Mina are seniors on the girls team. (Photos by Richard Lamb/Presque Isle Newspapers.)