Preview: Finals Feature Returning Singles Stars, Potentially Wide-Open Team Races
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 3, 2022
Five singles champions from last season’s MHSAA Bowling Finals will be returning to the lanes Saturday, lining up at least a few contenders for fans to follow – even if two will be bowling in the same bracket this time.
Friday’s team championship competition is a lot harder to forecast, even with five returning title winners back in the field.
Below is a look at possible contenders for all eight championships, both team and singles. Action begins both days at 8:25 a.m., with Division 1 at Allen Park’s Thunderbowl, Division 2 at Canton’s Super Bowl, Division 3 at Jackson’s Jax 60 and Division 4 at Battle Creek’s M-66 Bowl. Click for the full list of qualifiers, and come back to Second Half all weekend for coverage from all four Finals sites.
Division 1 Girls
Team: A Grand Rapids-area team has won the last three Division 1 championships, and Zeeland may be the favorite to win its second in three seasons after dominating its Regional with 3,843 pins – nearly 550 more than the runner-up at Sherman Bowling Center in Muskegon. Sterling Heights Stevenson rolled the highest Regional score in Division 1 at 4,088 at Five Star in Sterling Heights, and Holt also broke 3,800 with a 3,818 at Royal Scot in Lansing to edge Davison by 117 pins. Macomb Dakota also nearly reached 3,800 (3,794) and Plymouth, Farmington and Lincoln Park also were Regional champions. Reigning Division 1 champion Hudsonville didn’t qualify.
Singles: Although 2021 champion Anna Maxwell of Westland John Glenn graduated, the other three semifinalists all will return this weekend. Runner-up Ava Crumley, now a senior at South Lyon, and New Baltimore Anchor Bay junior Melanie Straub both are coming off Regional titles, and Monroe senior Nataleigh Eagle was fourth at Spins Bowl in Taylor. Wyandotte Roosevelt senior Angelita Rodriguez, Belleville senior Sydney Allison and Zeeland senior Morgan Smith also return from last year’s match play after all finishing Regional runners-up last week. Warren Woods Tower junior Kayla Tafanelli finished six pins ahead of Rodriguez at Spins Bowl and made the Division 2 Finals match play last season. Hartland senior Morgan Maliszweski, Grand Blanc junior Grace Handa and Zeeland junior Alyssa Fortney also were Regional champions last weekend.
Division 1 Boys
Team: Compared to last season, when 4,059 was the top Regional score in this division, seven teams surpassed that last weekend with Livonia Franklin at 4,385 and Utica Eisenhower at 4,375 leading the way. Eisenhower was the Division 1 Finals champion two seasons ago, and reigning title winner Salem did qualify again, third behind Franklin and Belleville at Canton Super Bowl. Waterford Kettering, which rolled that high Regional score last year, won a Regional title again, and Davison, Brownstown Woodhaven and Jenison also won their team tournaments last weekend.
Individual: Two-time champion Izaac Goergen from Midland graduated, but two more semifinalists from 2021 return – Holt senior David Schaberg rolled the highest Regional series regardless of division, 1,530, and Franklin senior Ian Cain also won a Regional title after making last year’s semis. Northville senior Brandon Leavitt and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern senior Carson Hommes additionally are back after making the Finals match play. Caledonia junior Ayden Sulzener, Macomb Dakota junior Connor Rogus, Milford senior Alex Shaw and Woodhaven junior Matthew Sterbenz also were Regional champs.
Division 2 Girls
Team: The Division 2 Regionals were mostly ruled by big winners. Bay City John Glenn rolled the highest score, dominating at Monitor Lanes in Bay City with 3,780 pins – 330 more than runner-up and reigning Finals champion Flint Kearsley. St. Clair Shores Lake Shore rolled the second-highest score in the division, 3,363, and won by 318. Charlotte won its Regional by 199, Sparta was victorious by 218, Wayland won by 116 and South Lyon East had the closest race of the six with a 40-pin win over Carleton Airport. Last season’s Finals runner-up Mason also advanced with a third-place Regional finish.
Singles: Seniors dominated last season’s bracket, slotting into all four semifinals spots. But Whitehall senior Karli VanDuinen, Charlotte senior Adrianna Good and Mason senior Alexis Beach all are back after reaching the quarterfinals. Wayland junior Kadence Bottrall and Tecumseh junior Abby Werden return after making the 2021 match play, Bottrall off a Regional title last week. Kearsley junior Sara Ritchie had the highest Regional score in any division, 1,361, to win her Regional at Monitor Lanes, while Good, Fruitport junior Brynna Hanson, Livonia Clarenceville freshman Caitlyn Johnson and Airport senior Kyla Peterson also won last weekend – Johnson also breaking 1,300 (1,311). Taylor junior Casey Malmsten made the Division 3 match play last season bowling for Canton Prep.
Division 2 Boys
Team: Reigning champion Dearborn Divine Child locked up a trip to the Finals with the second-highest score among Division 2 Regional champions, 3,966 at Westland’s Oak Lanes. The highest Regional score in the division belonged to Flint Kearsley, which at 4,467 pins bested three qualifiers who rolled at least 4,300 at Monitor. Jackson Northwest, Cedar Springs, Allegan and New Boston Huron also won Regional titles. Northwest was the Division 2 Finals champion in 2020, and Huron won in 2019.
Singles: Six rollers are back from last season’s Finals match play, led by returning champion Kyle Pranger. The Grand Rapids Northview junior was one of the Regional champions last week – but he’s also not the only champion in this field, as Livonia Clarenceville senior Jacob Johnson was a Regional runner-up after winning last season’s Division 3 title. Kearsley junior Howie Hammond – a Division 2 semifinalist a year ago – also won a Regional title, and 2021 Finals runner-up and now-senior Damein Milliman also will be back after finishing runner-up at his Regional to Jackson Northwest junior teammate Ryan Wenman. John Glenn sophomore Logan Larive, Grand Rapids Christian senior Jerry LaRue and Tecumseh sophomore Owen Williams also are returning from the 2021 match play bracket, Williams after making the quarterfinals. Divine Child senior Paul Scheuher, Mattawan junior Charlie Johnson and Huron junior Donald Jacobs also won Regional singles titles last week.
Division 3 Girls
Team: The Tri-Valley Conference owns the last two Division 3 girls championships, and Midland Bullock Creek could be the next from that league to bring one home as it won a Regional title – while last season’s champion Birch Run did not qualify. Kent City, the Division 4 runner-up two seasons ago, rolled the highest Regional score in the Division 3, 3,376 at Muskegon’s Northway Lanes to win by 291 pins. Cheboygan, Richmond, Niles Brandywine and Clinton also won Regional titles, and 2021 Finals runner-up Armada advanced with a third-place finish.
Singles: Flint Powers Catholic sophomore Elizabeth Teuber opened up the possibility of a historic high school run with a 52-pin win in last season’s championship match, and she was among Regional champions last weekend. Central Montcalm senior Arabella Huntoon also will be back after making the semifinals last season, and Hillsdale sophomore Chloe Manifold, junior teammate Rainee Vanheerde and Algonac senior Natalie Kapanowski are back after making the quarterfinals. Garber senior Brooke Binder, Hudsonville Unity Christian junior Lauren VanderMaas and Onsted sophomore Sydney Nichols also made the match play last season, and Nichols also was among Regional champs last week along with Jonesville junior Abby Gutkowski, Grand Rapids West Catholic junior Kayla Van Linden, Clare senior Sofiah Coker and junior sister Alexah Coker (who tied) and Bullock Creek sophomore Brooklynn Marshall.
Division 3 Boys
Team: Last season’s champion in this division Grass Lake didn’t advance this time, nor did the runner-up from the past two seasons Boyne City – making this race even more intriguing. Madison Heights Bishop Foley rolled a division-best 3,960 to win at Richmond’s Strikers Bowling Center, and Richmond was the second-highest there and overall in Division 3 at 3,906. Jonesville, the 2018 Finals champion, won its Regional by 256 pins, while Standish-Sterling (180) and Romulus Summit Academy North (186) also posted comfortable victories and Belding (52) and Frankenmuth (5) won by much closer margins.
Singles: With Johnson bowling in Division 2 this season, Belding senior Trenton Altman might be the favorite Saturday after finishing runner-up last year and winning his Regional last weekend. Cheboygan junior Cole Swanberg also will return after making last season’s quarterfinals, while Lake Odessa Lakewood sophomore Phillip Butler, Birch Run senior Jase Clairmont and Muskegon Orchard View senior Trent Beerman also return after making the match play. Gladwin sophomore Brady Weston, Freeland senior Jackson Vlassis, Bishop Foley junior Nolan Matz, Hillsdale senior Andrew Hollister and Adrian Madison junior Collin Hickman also won Regional titles last weekend.
Division 4 Girls
Team: Traverse City Christian broke Bronson’s two-year hold on the title last season, and both will be back after finishing runners-up at their respective Regionals. Grass Lake bowled the division’s highest Regional score of 3,427 to win at Jax 60 by 99 pines, while Allen Park Cabrini (303), Ravenna (126) and Portland St. Patrick (313) posted bigger wins and Ishpeming Westwood (80) and Burton Atherton (8) claimed Regional titles by closer margins.
Singles: Gobles junior Morgan Brunner won last season’s Finals championship by eight pins and will return after earning her Regional title by 99 last weekend. Only two others who made last season’s Finals match play didn’t graduate last spring, and both also are returning – Beaverton junior Becca Claypool after also winning her Regional, and Maple City Glen Lake junior Chloe Crick after finishing third to her at Lucky Jacks in Traverse City. St. Pat’s senior Abigail Weller, Atherton freshman Reagan Baker, Bronson sophomore Hadassah Bloom and Cabrini junior Jordan Downham also were Regional champs.
Division 4 Boys
Team: St. Charles won its first championship last season since 2010 and will return as a Regional runner-up. Its score of 3,639 pins last weekend actually was fourth-highest in Division 4, as New Lothrop finished ahead at Riverwood Resort in Mount Pleasant with a 3,795, 2020 Finals champ Grass Lake rolled the division-high of 3,894 and Burton Bendle also won a Regional at 3,668. Wyoming Potter’s House Christian, Allen Park Cabrini and Bellaire rounded out the Regional champs.
Singles: Burr Oak now-senior Ethan Lindsey was the only non-senior to make the semifinals last season, and the reigning Division 4 champion is back after coming in second at his Regional last weekend to Hanover-Horton senior Ben Childs. Six others who reached at least match play last season also will be returning. New Lothrop senior Rafael Woods and Britton Deerfield senior Gavin Schroen won Regional titles last weekend, while Lakeview senior Riley Devereaux, Jackson Lumen Christi junior Jackson Kremer, Kimball Landmark senior Aiden Briguglio and Baldwin senior Jesse Pancio also are returning – Pancio and Schroen after making the quarterfinals in 2021. Ravenna junior Dylan Gordon, Bendle junior Andrew Robbins and Coleman senior Josh Gross also won Regional titles.
PHOTO Plymouth Christian Academy advanced to the Division 4 Boys Bowling Final with a runner-up Regional finish last week. (Photo courtesy of Plymouth Christian Academy’s boys bowling program.)
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.”