Preview: Past Contenders, Potential-Packed Newcomers Ready to Roll at Finals
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 2, 2023
This weekend's MHSAA Bowling Finals will be a new experience for many, but also a return opportunity for plenty.
Seven of last year's eight team champions will return for Friday's competition. Only three returning singles champs will bowl in Saturday's tournaments – but 58 of last season's 128 match play participants are in the field again, and those three reigning singles title winners will be joined by two more who won in 2021.
Below is a look at possible contenders for all 16 championships, team and singles. Action begins both days at 8:25 a.m., with Division 1 at Allen Park’s Thunderbowl Lanes, Division 2 at Waterford's Century 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 all weekend for coverage from all four Finals sites on MHSAA.com.
DIVISION 1 GIRLS
Team: Reigning champion Macomb Dakota will return this weekend after winning its Regional at Sterling Heights’ Five Star with a 3,064, and 2021 champion Zeeland also was a Regional winner at Station 300 in Grandville with a 3,259. They, Grand Haven and Sterling Heights Stevenson were the only Division 1 teams to break 3,000 pins during Regional competition; the Buccaneers are seeking their first Finals championship, and Stevenson its first since 2009. Traverse City West, Canton, Lake Orion and Taylor also won Regional titles with more than 2,950 pins, Taylor just three off 3,000.
Singles: Zeeland senior Alyssa Fortney was last season’s singles runner-up and returns after placing seventh at her Regional among five teammates who qualified. New Baltimore Anchor Bay senior Melanie Straub, Hartland senior Carlie Mitchell, Southfield Arts & Technology junior Samantha Mason, Zeeland sophomore Hayden Pompey-Oshinski and Westland John Glenn senior Karley Chouinard all made Finals match play last season and qualified to return this weekend. Straub rolled the highest Regional score in Division 1 at 1,334 pins at Five Star, with Novi sophomore Maddy Gazzarari next at 1,227 to win at Super Bowl Lanes in Canton. Caledonia junior Emma Whitman, Traverse City West junior Taylor Phillips, Oxford senior Macey Strevel and Monroe sophomore Alexis Woolridge-Lang all won Regional singles titles as well.
DIVISION 1 BOYS
Team: Although reigning champion Livonia Franklin did not advance this time, reigning runner-up Utica Eisenhower is back after winning its Regional at Five Star by 252 pins ahead of 2021 Division 1 runner-up Dakota. Belleville posted the second-highest team score in Division 1 last weekend at 3,611 to win at Super Bowl Lanes by 166 pins, and Jenison, Davison, North Farmington and St. Clair Shores Lakeview also won Regional titles all by at least 100 pins.
Singles: Dakota senor Connor Rogus repeated in winning his Regional, this time with a score of 1,331, and is the lone returnee who reached at least the quarterfinals last season. However, Rockford senior Tony DeLuccia and Wyoming senior Nate Vanderbeek both will be back after also making match play. Holt junior Nick Schaberg created some buzz in winning his Regional last weekend at Royal Scot with a 1,528 – 247 pins better than the field. Kalamazoo Loy Norrix senior Anthony Fotis, Plymouth senior Aidan O’Callaghan, Waterford Mott junior Brendan Riley and Monroe sophomore LJ Robinson also were Regional champs.
DIVISION 2 GIRLS
Team: Flint Kearsley has won eight of the last nine Division 2 team titles, including the last two, and rolled a 3,105 at Richfield Bowl in Flint to set the pace for all six Regionals in this division. Sparta (3,046) and Carleton Airport (3,002) also broke 3,000 to claim championships, and Bay City John Glenn was runner-up to Kearsley at 3,045. Mason is the lone team to win a Finals during Kearsley’s run and also finished Division 2 runner-up the last two years; the Bulldogs qualified third at a tightly-contested Regional at Wyoming’s Spectrum Lanes, where Allegan was first with Charlotte four pins back and Mason 36 off the lead. Marshall and Waterford Kettering also won Regional titles, Marshall just 37 pins ahead of annual contender Tecumseh.
Singles: Last year’s champion and runner-up graduated, but this field remains loaded. Wayland senior Kadence Bottrall will be back after reaching the 2022 semifinals. She won her Regional at Spectrum Lanes with a 1,317, 103 pins better than the field. Warren Woods-Tower senior Kayla Tafanelli was a Division 1 singles semifinalist last season and also will be part of this bracket after finishing second last weekend at Waterford’s 300 Bowl to Marysville senior Sophia Santo, a quarterfinalist last winter. Allegan junior Leah Snyder, Livonia Clarenceville sophomore Caitlyn Johnson and Goodrich junior Rebekah Muzyk all made quarterfinals as well last season and will return, Johnson as the Regional champ from Oak Lanes in Westland. Tecumseh junior Wendy Ketola, Bay City John Glenn sophomore Caeli Schultz, Cedar Springs senior Chloe Fisk and Kearsley senior Sara Ritchie also are back after making the match play last year, Ketola as the Regional champ out of Continental Lanes in Kalamazoo. Kearsley junior Ava Boggs and Grand Rapids Northview senior Courtney Delaney also won Regional titles.
DIVISION 2 BOYS
Team: Reigning champion Grand Rapids Northview will be pursuing a repeat coming off a Regional title by 109 pins at Westgate in Comstock Park and will attempt to break a string of seven different champions over the last seven seasons. New Boston Huron could do the same after winning in 2019 and coming off a Regional victory and Division 2 second-best 3,652 last weekend at Westland’s Oak Lanes. Tecumseh rolled a 3,679 to set the pace for the entire division at Continental, and Flint Kearsley, Waterford Kettering and Mason also won Regional championships.
Singles: Northview senior Kyle Pranger won the championship in 2021 and reached last year’s final before falling in a tie-breaker roll-off. But he’s set up well to take the title-clinching step one more time, entering off another Regional championship. Tecumseh junior Owen Williams also is back from last season’s semifinals and won his Regional last weekend, and Flint Kearsley senior Howie Hammond made the quarterfinals last year and will return after finishing Regional runner-up at Richfield Bowl to Bay City John Glenn senior Logan Larive, another match play returnee. Grand Rapids Christian junior Zeke Heerema, Carleton Airport junior Colin Peterson and New Boston Huron senior Donnie Jacobs also made the match play in 2022, and Jacobs also was a Regional champ last week along with Mason junior Jonathon Hendershot and Warren De La Salle Collegiate senior Drew Gohlke.
DIVISION 3 GIRLS
Team: Reigning champion Shepherd rolled a division-high 2,912 at Bay City’s Alert Bowling Lanes to edge Midland Bullock Creek by 12 pins for that Regional title, and 2022 runner-up Cheboygan also will be back after finishing second to Ishpeming Westwood at the Regional at its home Sparetime Lanes. Three Rivers moved to Division 3 from Division 2 and was another Regional champion, edging Olivet by six pins at M-66 in Battle Creek. Clinton, Armada and Grand Rapids West Catholic also won Regionals, Armada and Clinton both by more than 200 pins and West Catholic by 97.
Singles: Flint Powers Catholic junior Elizabeth Teuber won Division 3 as a freshman and was runner-up last season, and she’s back after winning her Regional at Strikers Entertainment in Richmond with a 1,220 – 159 pins ahead of the field. Comstock Park senior Ashley Hunter, Clinton junior Paige Shankland and Midland Bullock Creek senior Brooklyn Marshall all made match play quarterfinals last season and will be back, Shankland off a Regional title at Flat Rock Lanes and Marshall after finishing second and just seven pins off the lead at Alert Lanes. Shankland’s Regional title win came by 19 ahead of senior teammate Noelle Ray, who also made the match play in 2022, and Boyne City sophomore Victoria McGeorge also is back after reaching matches last winter. Napoleon junior Sydney Gallagher won the Regional at M-66 by three pins ahead of Three Rivers sophomore Tayler Mohney – who made the Division 2 match play last season – while West Catholic senior Kayla VanLinden, Ovid-Elsie senior Gracie Schultz and Ishpeming Westwood senior Kylie Junak also won Regional titles.
DIVISION 3 BOYS
Team: Reigning champion Gladwin is coming off a Regional championship last weekend at Sparetime Lanes and also advanced three to the singles Finals. Armada, the 2021 champion, was another Regional champion, and Clinton posted the division’s best score of 3,363 to win at Flat Rock Lanes. Napoleon edged Three Rivers by a pin at M-66 and Hudsonville Unity Christian got past Muskegon Orchard View by four to win at Sherman Lanes in Muskegon. Sanford Meridian rounded out the Regional winners at Alert Lanes, where 2022 Finals runner-up Bullock Creek came in third after Chesaning as well.
Singles: Cheboygan senior Cole Swanberg and Ogemaw Heights senior Tyler Downs met in last season’s championship match, won by Swanberg, and also at last weekend’s Regional where Swanberg was second and Downs fourth. Gladwin’s Brady Weston was ninth at their Regional at Sparetime and also made the semifinals last season, as did Almont senior Matthew Redmond, who also qualified for this weekend. In fact, the top eight from last year’s match play all are returning, with those four joined by Standish-Sterling senior Donovan Leamon, Adrian Madison senior Collin Hickman, Napoleon senior Dustin Moeckel and Lansing Catholic senior James Wheeler. Hopkins sophomore Charlie Brown III and Bullock Creek junior Anthony Davis also qualified again after making match play last year, and Cheboygan senior Tommy Jones, Frankenmuth junior Mayson Knop, Portland sophomore Alec McGinnis, Almont sophomore Hunter Ross, Coloma senior Brodie McQuillan and Blissfield sophomore Blake Terrill were last weekend’s Regional champions, Terrill with a Division 3-best 1,316.
DIVISION 4 GIRLS
Team: Bronson is the reigning champion and has won three of the last four team titles, but made the cut this time as a third-place Regional finisher although three bowlers qualified in singles the next day. Traverse City Christian, the 2021 champion, won its Regional at Gaylord Bowling Center with 2,836 pins, second in the entire division only to Jonesville’s 2,880 at Jax 60 – Jonesville made the Division 3 Quarterfinals last season. Taylor Trillium Academy, Burton Atherton, Ravenna and New Lothrop also won Regional titles last weekend, while Beaverton’s 2,655 to finish second at Gaylord was the third-highest team score in all of Division 4.
Singles: Gobles senior Morgan Brunner will bowl for a third-straight singles championship and won her Regional at Wyoming’s Park Center Lanes with a 1,099 – 191 pins higher than the field. Pittsford senior Brooke Vanous also will return after making the semifinals last season, and Jonesville senior Abigail Gutowski made the Division 3 quarterfinals last year while Beaverton senior Becca Claypool and Bronson sophomore Morgan McConn are returning quarterfinalists in Division 4. Traverse City Christian senior Brooke Smith, Vandercook Lake senior Brianna Langley and Allen Park Cabrini senior Jordan Downham also return after making the match play and all three won Regional championships last week, and Bronson junior Hadassah Bloom, Bad Axe senior Destiny Ranquist, Trillium junior Abbey Slaven and Maple City Glen Lake senior Chloe Crick also are back after making match play in 2022. Bad Axe freshman Jasmyn Ranquist and Pewamo-Westphalia junior Kennedy Cassel also won Regional titles last weekend.
BOYS DIVISON 4
Team: Plymouth Christian Academy moved to the forefront last season with its first championship and returns this weekend coming off a Regional title at Ten Pin in Tecumseh. Grass Lake has won two Finals championships (2021 in Division 3) and finished runner-up over the last three seasons, and also won a Regional title last weekend, at Jax 60. Saugatuck, Burton Atherton and Benzie Central were Regional champions by similarly comfortable margins, while Saginaw Nouvel won at Northern Lanes in Sanford by just 26 pins over New Lothrop.
Singles: Reigning champion Jackson Kremer will return as a senior after qualifying 10th at Jax 60, and he’ll be joined by Atherton junior Matthew Miller and Nouvel sophomore Alex McCarthy among bowlers who made at least the quarterfinals last season. Allen Park Cabrini sophomore Bryce Cadaret also will be back after making last year’s match play. New Lothrop junior Cole Bradshaw was the top-rolling Division 4 Regional champion at 1,326, and Houghton Lake junior James Wright, Baldwin senior Jake Cutler, Capac senior Tim Bochatyn, Jonesville senior Adam Martinez and Detroit Loyola freshman Cody Champion also won their Regionals.
PHOTO Ishpeming Westwood’s Elise Ketola, here at this season’s U.P. Bowling Conference tournament Jan. 21, will compete with her team and in singles in Division 3 this weekend. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.”