By Andrew Frushour
BATTLE CREEK – Sandusky senior Melissa Sleda has faced Vandercook Lake’s Malloree Ambs with championships on the line a number of times over the last four seasons.
Most recently, Ambs came out on top – including beating Sleda in a Singles Quarterfinal a year ago on the way to winning the individual title.
Sleda earned one more chance against her standout opponent during Saturday’s MHSAA Final – and took the lead role in their final chapter.
She finished a tough run through Saturday’s match play at M-66 Bowl by defeating Ambs in the two-game championship match 384-317. St. Charles freshman Kyle Tuttle claimed the boys title.
“Going from last year, I tried to put the past behind me. I thought about the present, just focused on every single ball, made sure I had my timing, hit my mark and everything felt good,” Sleda said. “Strikes just come if I hit my mark.”
After qualifying sixth Saturday morning, Sleda rolled a 245 during her Round of 16 win. She then eliminated 2013 singles runner-up Paige Huebel of Oscoda, 396-288, in the Quarterfinal before edging Ambs’ teammate Jessica Bunch 378-356 in the Semifinal.
The opportunity to face Bunch and Ambs was a tad bittersweet for Sleda – Sandusky had faced Vandercook Lake in the Team Finals championship match the last three seasons, but didn’t advance to the title match Friday as Vandercook Lake went on to repeat as champion.
The Singles Final was her chance to finish on a positive note.
“The first match I bowled the 245, and everything felt right,” Sleda said. “The fifth frame of the second game, I was just like ‘Wow. This might be the year, finally.’ I just kept thinking this is my year, you’re a senior, go out with a bang.”
Tuttle, meanwhile, hopes to have three more Finals in his future after giving Division 4 its second straight freshman singles champion. He followed Rogers City’s Bailey Budnik, last season’s winner, who Tuttle beat 420-326 in Saturday's Quarterfinal.
Tuttle qualified first during the morning, but just edged Lakeview’s Joey Cole 337-311 in the Round of 16 match play. After the Budnik match, Tuttle survived Budnik’s teammate Alex Darga 359-350 – after not being able to watch Darga’s 10th frame. Tuttle's future wasn't decided until Darga's final shot
“It must’ve been meant to be after that. I just got up and bowled,” Tuttle said.
He came back to beat Tri-Valley Conference West foe Zach Fenby of St. Louis 406-325 in the championship match thanks to four strikes over the final three frames of the first game and a string of five straight strikes during the second.
“The first two matches I was so nervous,” Tuttle said. “The third one, the last one, I was as calm as I’d been all day.”
PHOTOS: The MHSAA Division 4 Finals girls and boys medalists.
With a season to go, Gobles senior Morgan Brunner finds herself already in elite company as one of only three bowlers in MHSAA history to win two Finals girls singles titles – and with an opportunity this winter to become the first to win three girls championships.
Brunner is coming off her second-straight Division 4 Finals triumph, won in March. She and her mother Karrie – who coaches Gobles’ teams – helped start the school's bowling program, and over these first few seasons Morgan also has bowled during the regular season as part of the boys team before joining the girls bracket for the MHSAA Tournament.
"Being on the boys team, and people thinking I’m going to bowl with the boys, it was nice to be able to bowl with the girls and it felt more normal. I bowl so many outside tournaments, obviously all on the girls side, and there’s just as much competition on the girls side as there is on the boys side.
"I feel like I am (a role model). I’ve definitely had people tell my parents that their kids are watching. I haven’t personally had anyone come up to me, but I do see people watching me sometimes."
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights
Aug. 16: Ava Brizard's Story - Read
Aug. 16: Paige Miller's Story - Read
Aug. 9: Gracie Olsen's Story - Read
Aug. 2: Maddy Stern's Story - Read
July 26: Reese Miller's Story - Read
July 19: Macy Irelan's Story - Read
July 12: Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5: Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28: Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read
May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 28 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read