Taylor Trillium Girls Hoist 1st Title Trophy, Grass Lake Boys Add to Collection
BATTLE CREEK — Joe Slaven had a good idea his girls bowling team could do something special in Friday’s Division 4 team championship at M-66 Bowl.
“I talked to our athletic director, and I told her I noticed we don’t have a trophy case,” he said. “She said, ‘If you win a state title, we’ll build you one.’”
As of Friday afternoon, Trillium AD Deanna Doede has another item on her to-do list after Trillium bested Beaverton 1,074-1,051 to win the school’s first state championship.
It wasn’t easy. After finishing first in qualifying, Trillium eked past Allen Park Cabrini by two pins, 1,016-1,014, to get to the final, and trailed Beaverton by 13 pins after Baker play.
The final was closely contested for six frames before it all came together.
“Their adrenaline kicked in for the first five frames of the final,” Slaven said. “But around the seventh frame, they settled in.”
Slaven had scheduled his team so it would be ready for tournament pressure.
“I got them in tournaments with Division 1 schools, and we won some of those tournaments, came in second. came in fourth. I wanted them to see the big picture, the big dance. and they showed up today.”
His daughter, Abbey, didn’t celebrate until the last pin fell.
“You never know in bowling,” she said. “We’ve been down a lot in other matches, or it seemed like it, and then we come back and perform our best. So you never really know in bowling.”
Joe Slaven, meanwhile, extols both his team’s talent, but also their demeanor.
“What I’m most proud of is, yes, we won a state championship, but I’m most proud of is the way they represent their school, and the way they represent themselves.” he said. “These girls are so coachable, so athletic, so smart.”
And likely to contend again, too: Most of Trillium’s bowlers should be back next year.
Alivia Schmer led Trillium with a 179, while Emily Yagley rolled a 172.
Ellie Minkin paced Beaverton with a 176.
If winning a title was a first for Trillium’s girls, it was more of the same for the Grass Lake boys, who won for the third time in four years Friday, defeating New Lothrop 1,253-1,123.
Grass Lake was the Division 4 runner-up last season, won the Division 3 title in 2021 and took the Division 4 crown in 2020.
And it’s not inconceivable to think they’ll be back next year, with just one senior on this season’s roster.
In fact, Warriors coach Jeff Wyers was so confident in his team’s overall talent that he gave sophomore Tyler Paul his first varsity start Friday.
“These kids work their butts off,” the fifth-year mentor said. “These kids, the camaraderie they have, they work together and they never give up. If one guy is off, the others pick him up. These guys are amazing.”
The Warriors had their challenges during the day, but won all three matches by comfortable margins, including the final, taking a 73-pin lead after Baker play and never looking back.
“It feels great knowing we have a buffer,” co-captain Cayden Dewitt said. “So if we miss, we miss. And (if) we win, it feels amazing.”
Grass Lake also has a strong team chemistry.
"Our coach does a really good job of projecting a good positive environment onto everything,” co-captain Brice Sandoval said. "Even in practice or just open bowling with no coaches, there’s good vibes, good energy, and we seem to turn it on when we need it most, and it works out for us.”
Sandoval led Grass Lake with a 198, while Dewitt rolled a 193. Cole Bradshaw led New Lothrop with a 204.
Gobles' Brunner Closes with 3rd Title, Nouvel's McCarthy Locks Up No. 1
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.”