Preview: Returning Champions Ready to Roll Again
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 23, 2021
This weekend’s MHSAA Girls & Boys Bowling Finals could be characterized by lots of opportunity during Friday’s team competition – followed by chasing of past champions in singles on Saturday.
Five team champions are back from 2020. But only Bronson’s girls, with two straight Division 4 titles, are looking at a streak longer than a repeat.
Five of last season’s eight singles champions also will be back to provide some intriguing punch to Saturday’s tournaments – although that said, there have been only three repeat individual champions since the start of MHSAA Bowling Finals in 2004.
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 Waterford’s Century Bowl, Division 3 at Jackson’s Jax 60 and Division 4 at Canton’s Super 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: An Ottawa-Kent Conference team has won the last two Division 1 titles, and the league has two candidates to continue the streak including the reigning champion. Zeeland (a co-op of East and West) won last year’s Final by 30 pins and rolled a Division 1 Regional-high 3,666 last weekend to edge Hudsonville’s 3,366 at Muskegon’s Sherman Bowling Center. Lake Orion and Westland John Glenn also are back after making the match play last season, and John Glenn is coming off a Regional title at Taylor’s Skore Lanes. Davison won five of six championship between 2012-17 and is back in the mix after also winning a Regional title, by 50 pins over the Dragons at Waterford’s Century Bowl.
Singles: Four bowlers who made last season’s Finals match play will compete in this division again this weekend. Wyandotte Roosevelt junior Angelita Rodriguez rolled a Division 1 Regional-high 899 to win her tournament at Skore Lanes and reached the quarterfinals last season – where she lost to Farmington senior Carrington Beaman, who also is back coming off a fourth-place Regional finish. Westland John Glenn senior Anna Maxwell finished runner-up at Skore last weekend after also making the quarterfinals a year ago. Belleville’s Katherine Dybicki made the Finals match play a year ago, and finished sixth at Skore last weekend. Davison junior Emma Hawley, Holt junior Angelita Mireles, Salem senior Amanda Ellenwood, Muskegon Mona Shores senior Bailey Graham and Farmington Hills Mercy senior Maddie Briggs also won individual Regional titles.
Division 1 Boys
Team: Ten of the 12 finalists rolled at least 3,800 pins at their Regionals and five reached 3,900. A few of the frequent contenders again help fill this field – starting with 2018 champion Waterford Kettering, which rolled a Division 1 Regional-best 4,059 to claim the title at Waterford’s Century Bowl. Reigning Finals runner-up Salem, which also won the 2017 title, is back after a runner-up Regional finish last weekend. Swartz Creek is back after making the match play in 2020 and is seeking its first title. Macomb Dakota’s 3,939 to finish second to Kettering at Century Bowl would have won every other Regional – although Utica Ford (3,931) and Rockford (3,936) also won Regional titles and Grand Haven was only seven pins off the Rams’ pace at their tournament.
Singles: Reigning champion Izaac Goergen will return as a senior for Midland and finished third at a Regional last weekend at Royal Scot in Lansing that also included Holt junior David Schaberg, another 2020 quarterfinalist. Brownstown Woodhaven senior Marco Ramirez made the semifinals last season and is hoping to take the next step or two, and Clarkston senior Patrick McLetchie also will return after making the match play a year ago. Traverse City West junior Jeremy Decker won the Regional at Royal Scot with Goergen and Schaberg, and he was joined among champs last weekend by Salem senior Jaydon Kurowski, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern junior Carson Hommes, Utica Ford junior Andrew Martin, Livonia Churchill senior Alex Maki and Macomb Dakota senior Gregory Guzik II.
Division 2 Girls
Team: This tournament will feature some significant clashing of powers. Reigning champion Mason returns coming off the highest Regional score in any division, 3,867 at Kalamazoo’s Continental Lanes, with four of last season’s top six bowlers also advancing to the Singles Finals. Tecumseh has finished Division 2 runner-up three straight seasons and came up just one pin short against the Bulldogs last season; Tecumseh also won its Regional last weekend, at Westland’s Town & Country Lanes. Also back in the hunt is Flint Kearsley, which had won six straight Division 2 titles and seven in eight seasons before falling to Mason in a semifinal last season. St. Clair Shores Lake Shore made the Division 1 Finals match play in 2020 and is in Division 2 this time, and also won a Regional title last weekend.
Singles: Kearsley senior Megan Timm returns after winning last season’s championship, as does Warren Woods Tower sophomore Kayla Tafanelli, who made the semifinals last season and won her Regional last week at Oak Lanes in Westland. Coldwater senior Rilee Cooper-Lewis, Charlotte senior Abigail Mather, Kearsley senior Allison Eible, Carlton Airport junior Kayla Peterson and Wayland sophomore Kadence Bottrall all also made the Finals match play last season. Bottrall won her Regional last weekend, also joined among Regional champs by Kearsley sophomore Sara Ritchie, Charlotte junior Adriana Good, Whitehall junior Karli VanDuinen and Tecumseh junior Abby Werden. Rolling second at Oak Lanes was Lake Shore senior Dani DeCruydt, who finished Division 1 Finals runner-up as a sophomore and also made the match play in that division last season. VanDuinen made the Division 3 quarterfinals a year ago.
Division 2 Boys
Team: Reigning champion Jackson Northwest is rolling into this Finals with plenty of momentum after posting a Division 2 Regional-best 3,951 at Continental Lanes. The team’s top four scorers from last season’s championship match all are back and also qualified for the Singles Finals. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills – a runner-up to Grand Rapids Northview at the Regional at Westgate Bowl in Comstock Park – is the only other team from last year’s match play that advanced to this weekend. Tecumseh, the Finals runner-up in 2019, just missed rolling the top score last weekend with a 3,944 to win at Town & Country Lanes.
Singles: Reigning champion Noah Tafanelli of Warren Woods Tower also is back seeking a repeat as a senior and won last weekend’s Regional at Oak Lanes. Northview sophomore Kyle Pranger was the singles champ at Westgate and made the semifinals before running into Tafanelli last season. Chelsea senior Luis Carvallo, Northwest senior Brayden Metcalf and sophomore Ryan Wenman and Cadillac junior Dylan Vermilyea all also made the match play in 2020. Bay City John Glenn sophomore Logan Larive, Marshall sophomore Kameron George, Niles sophomore Trenton Phillips and Tecumseh freshman Owen Williams also won Regional titles last weekend as eight of 12 champs or runners-up from that round were underclassmen.
Division 3 Girls
Team: Seven teams have filled the eight first or second places in Division 3 over the last four seasons – and the one team to do so twice, Birch Run, is one of only two teams in this weekend’s field that has won a Finals title. The Panthers claimed the Division 3 championship in 2017 and were runners-up in 2019, and Flat Rock was the champion in 2012. The other 10 finalists are seeking their first Finals title, but there is some experience contending. Caro made the semifinals last season and Armada made the match play, and both won Regional titles last weekend. Kent City was a Regional runner-up last weekend but finished Division 4 Finals runner-up a year ago.
Singles: As seniors dominated the 2020 singles bracket, this weekend should provide plenty of opportunities for a new group of contenders. Hillsdale senior Karissa Manifold made the quarterfinals last season but is the only returning bowler to advance that far. But Armada senior Samantha Dulz and Cheboygan senior Morgan Jones both also made last season’s match play and won their Regionals last weekend in leading the highest-scoring team Regional champions in Division 3. Ovid-Elsie senior Mikayla Kelley, Muskegon Oakridge senior Breanna Medacco, South Haven junior Harlee Burrows and Canton Prep junior Anika Fields also won Regional titles last week, Burrows with a Division-best 872 to finish first with Manifold second at Joey Armadillos in Niles. Clinton senior Hallie Kittle made the match play in Division 4 last season.
Division 3 Boys
Team: Armada won its second Finals championship in six seasons last year and claimed the Regional title last weekend on a tie-breaker over Flint Powers Catholic at Richmond’s Strikers Entertainment Center. Three of Armada’s top five bowlers from last year’s championship match are back. Reigning Finals runner-up Boyne City also was a Regional champion last week, at Cheboygan’s Sparetime Lane, while Livonia Clarenceville joined Kettering in Division 1 as the only boys teams to break 4,000 pins at Regionals, rolling a 4,050 to win at Flat Rock Lanes. Powers and Belding join Armada and Boyne City as the only return qualifiers in this division.
Singles: Six of last season’s match play qualifiers are back this weekend, with Napoleon senior Brandon Teddy the top advancer from 2020 having made the quarterfinals. Also back are Jonesville senior Alexander Bumpus, Clarenceville senior Ryan Bishop, Belding junior Trenton Altman and Essexville Garber seniors Braedyn Hofmeister and Zachary Moore. Clarenceville junior Jacob Johnson had the highest Regional-winning score in the Division at 925, with Boyne senior Michael Deming close behind at 923. Ovid-Elsie senior Ian Hehrer, Portland senior Josh Rutkowski, Armada senior Dylan Malinowski and Quincy senior Brandt Neely also won Regional titles.
Division 4 Girls
Team: Bronson has won the last two Division 4 team titles and is the only team in this field that has won a Finals championship in this sport. The Vikings reached this weekend as the Regional runner-up to Hanover-Horton last weekend at Jax 60 in Jackson. Those two rolled two of the top three team scores in the entire Division during the Regional round, joining Ishpeming Westwood. As noted above, last season’s runner-up Kent City is in Division 3 this season, but Traverse City Christian made the semifinals and Fowler and Ravenna both made the Division 4 match play last year; the latter two are both coming off Regional titles.
Singles: Kassidy Alexander was the highest Regional scorer for that top-scoring Hanover-Horton team, and she’s also the reigning Division 4 singles champion after earning a seven-pin victory in 2020. Oscoda senior Andrea Bickel and Ishpeming Westwood junior Kylie Junak both also made the semifinals last season, while Vandercook Lake senior Arielle Oakley and Pittsford senior Kathryn McArthur also made the match play. Rogers City junior Chandra Ganske, Fowler senior Lauren Speers, Reese senior Haleigh Seeger, Ravenna senior Heidi Kloostra, Burton Atherton junior Sheila Dugdale, Pittsford sophomore Brooke Vanous and New Haven senior Jessica Carl all won Regional titles last weekend, Speers and Seeger tying for first at Crooked Creek in Saginaw.
Division 4 Boys
Teams: We could have a first-time champion in Division 4; of eight qualifiers, only St. Charles (in 2010) has won a Finals in this sport. St. Charles was second at its Regional at Crooked Creek to Ithaca, which rolled a Division 4 Regional-best 3,513. Both reached the match play last season, as did Manchester which advanced to the semifinals and also won a Regional title last weekend at Tecumseh’s Ten Pin Alley. Homer and Muskegon Western Michigan Christian joined Ithaca as breaking 3,400 pins in winning Regional titles.
Singles: Reigning champion Hunter Haldaman is coming off last weekend’s championship won with an 815, the second-highest score across all Division 4 Regionals. The Traverse City Christian senior’s semifinal opponent last season, Aaron Stephens of Breckenridge, also is back this weekend as a senior, and Lakeview junior Riley Devereaux is back after making the quarterfinals in 2020. Joining Haldaman as Regional champs last week were Manchester junior Bobby Stemen, Jackson Lumen Christi sophomore Jackson Kremer (with a Division 4-best 866), Western Michigan Christian senior Ryan Michael, Burton Bendle senior Cody Angle and Pewamo-Westphalia senior Ethan Mandeville.
PHOTO: Bowlers warm up prior to the start of last season’s Division 4 Finals at Royal Scot in Lansing. (Photo by Rob Kaminski.)
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.”