Strong Finish, Bright Beginning in D4

March 1, 2014

By Andrew Frushour
Second Half

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.” 

Click for complete girls results and complete boys results.

PHOTOS: The MHSAA Division 4 Finals girls and boys medalists.

Gobles' Brunner Closes with 3rd Title, Nouvel's McCarthy Locks Up No. 1

By Tim Robinson
Special for

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.”

Division 4 Final Results - Boys | Girls