TC Christian Girls Make History, St. Charles Boys Back on Top

By Tim Robinson
Special for

March 26, 2021

CANTON – One and done.

But that one was awfully sweet for the St. Charles boys bowling team.

The Bulldogs, who were shut out of the Singles Finals this year, put their energy into the Division 4 Team Finals at Super Bowl in Canton on Friday.

After a tense back-and-forth battle with No. 2 seed Manchester, the top-seeded Bulldogs pulled out their Finals title by just eight pins, 1,167-1,159, in a match that went down to the 10th frame between the anchor bowlers.

“It came down to the last two. Our anchorman doubled and theirs didn’t," St. Charles coach Mark Faupel said. “If their anchorman doubles, they win it. It was crazy.”

St. Charles had won the Baker competition by 43 pins, only to see Manchester win the regular games by 35, creating the razor-thin finish.

It was the second boys bowling Finals title for St. Charles, which also won in 2010, and the third overall Finals championship for the school. The Bulldogs won the Division 7 football crown in 1999.

Traverse City Christian’s girls won their first Bowling Finals title – and in fact the school’s first Finals title in any girls sport. It came on the heels of a trip to the semifinals last year.

“We were 39 pins ahead after the Baker and we were able to stay real close in the regular game,” Sabres coach Brent Wheat said.

Close, indeed. Traverse City Christian trailed Hanover-Horton for the regular games portion by four pins, 756-752 to win the title 1,077-1,042.

“It was real back-and-forth,” Wheat said. “We had all marks in the ninth frame and we were about even, so we knew they had all the pressure on them to try and come back. All we had to do was keep making spares and we would come out on top, and that’s what we did.”

St. Charles boys bowling

The Sabres boys gave St. Charles all it wanted in the quarterfinals before the Bulldogs pulled to a 21-pin victory.

“We again had the Baker lead but we struggled,” Faupel said. “We had a 715 (score) and their anchorman needed a strike on the first ball of the 10th frame, and he leaves a Greek Church split (4-7-6-9-10), and it’s just so much exhilaration.”

Faupel, who created the team back in 2006, saw the Bulldogs end in the semifinals in 2016 and 2018. For him, the pain of losing those seasons was matched by the thrill of getting that second championship.

But, first, Faupel and his team had to overcome the disappointment among its five seniors, all of whom fell short in Regional singles last weekend.

“I told them that’s gone,” he said. “I said we had a chance to win the team title, and we took full advantage.”

As a result, Faupel’s time with the trophy was brief, lasting only as long as the ride home.

Wheat, for his part, was staying in a hotel preparing for Saturday’s individual tournament.

“The girls are probably sleeping with their medals,” he said. “I’m going to sleep with the trophy at least one night.”

The difference, he said, came in his team’s performance in Baker competition.

“We were able to get a 20-to-30-pin cushion in every game,” Wheat said. “Just a few pins, but that cushion really helped with nerves.”

After St. Charles celebrated its victory, Faupel gathered his bowlers.

“I said, ‘At some point in time, you’re going to feel the emotion of the day,’” he told them. “‘It might not be right now. It might be tomorrow, but you’re going to feel it.’”

As it turned out, the relief and joy of winning had eyes misting over from bowlers, coaches, and parents.

“It was a special moment,” Faupel said.

For the Sabres, there were tears as well after winning a title following the disappointment in the 2020 semifinals, when they lost in the 10th frame.

“The girls did it themselves, making sure that didn’t happen again,” Wheat said.


Click for bracket results: GIRLS | BOYS


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