Vandercook, Gabriel Richard Tops in D4

March 1, 2013

By Jon Malavolti
Special to Second Half

STERLING HEIGHTS – During eight of the first nine seasons of MHSAA Girls Bowling Finals, either Vandercook Lake or Sandusky made the championship match to end the winter.

And after meeting – and splitting – the last two Finals matches, it seemed only right that they met to decide a title again in year 10 at Friday's Division 4 tournament at Sunnybrook Golf and Bowl. 

“We were really hungry for Sandusky,” Vandercook Lake senior Becky Cecil said. “We worked our butt off and got our scores up, so if it came down to Vandercook and Sandusky, we would be ready for them.”

After being separated by only six pins with three frames to bowl, the Jayhawks pulled away for a 1,322-1,166 victory to give themselves two of the last three championships – Sandusky finishing first in 2012.

In the Boys Final, Riverview Gabriel Richard beat East Jackson 1,356-1,058.

Vandercook Lake coach Todd Reichard said his squad couldn't wait for the title rematch after finishing runner-up last year.

Facing Sandusky always provides a chance to measure his program.

“That’s who you want, is the best,” Reichard said. “I’m very proud. We set a goal, we wanted to get back here and bowl Sandusky, and we’re right back here now. And we got what we wanted, and I’m thrilled to death.”

Sandusky coach Gordon Williams said he was “extremely proud” of his young squad this season.

And he agreed that the teams seem to bring out the best in each other as they seemingly meet annually in big competitions.

“We always expect to see them at this point,” Williams said. “It was a great match; it was a close match until the last three, four frames. They have an excellent program. I've got nothing but good things to say about them.”

Posing with his team and the boys championship trophy was extra special for Riverview Gabriel Richard coach Bob Stempien, who was able to share the moment with sons Austin and Zack, a freshman and junior, respectively, on the Pioneers.

“They don’t see me as coach. They see me as dad, and sometimes that can be an extra challenge; but it’s great,” the coach said.

“Coming here and watching kids do things you didn't think they could do is just incredible,” he added. “I can’t even really describe it, it’s just awesome. I’m just speechless.”

Zack Stempien had similar praise for his Pioneers teammates taking the title.

“It takes a lot of work and dedication, and after you do it, it’s kind of that moment where everything pays off and you have no words for it,” he said.

East Jackson coach D.J. Miller, meanwhile, was proud of the way his Trojans finished the season.

When asked if he believes his young team set a benchmark for the future of the program, Miller responded, “I definitely think they did.”

“They really came through the last two weekends,” Miller added, referring to the Regional and Final. “They bowled extremely well. They bowled up to their potential.”

Click for full girls results and full boys results

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