Wayne Boys, Holt Girls Rally from Early Deficits to Clinch 2nd Finals Titles

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

March 3, 2023

ALLEN PARK – Wayne Memorial bowling coach Christine Day will be celebrating her 34th birthday Saturday with a state championship.

Led by Jeremiah Hodge’s 212 game, Wayne rallied from a 59-pin deficit to defeat Brownstown Woodhaven 1,331-1,244 to win the Division 1 championship Friday at Thunderbowl Lanes.

“I have an entire group of seniors – seven,’’ said Day. “This was present enough. I’m so proud of these guys. They kept fighting and coming back.’’

Down 59, senior anchor Donovan Uselman called a team huddle in the third frame, and his teammates eventually responded.

“He just said to keep our focus and keep executing our shots,’’ said Hodge. “It was a long day. We were down every game. We shot 1,100 today. We shot 1,000. I just tried to control the pocket.’’

Wayne Memorial advanced to the boys championship by defeating Livonia Churchill, 1,385-1,315, while Brownstown Woodhaven topped Jenison 1,382-1,268. The title was the second for Wayne, which previously won Division 1 in 2015.

Holt captured the girls title, also its second, behind a 214 game from Lola Knox, 1,197-1,078.

“It was hard getting here, but I was just happy I could pull it out for my team,’’ said Knox. “I’m very proud of my senior class.’’

Coach Sandra Teague said she knew early in the season this group was special.

“We won a title in 2010,’’ said Teague. “With this group I said there was no way I was going to mess this up.’’

Wayne Memorial opened the boys championship match with a 224-202 win in the first game of the Baker match. Both teams struggled in the second Baker game as Woodhaven shot 170 to open up that big lead.

Woodhaven then went ahead 101 pins, but Wayne made a comeback to get the deficit back to 51.

The effort was sidetracked with four opens in the seventh frame, giving Woodhaven a chance to reassume control.

“It was a matter of making good shots,’’ said Hodge. 

The Holt girls bowling team celebrates its 2023 Division 1 championship.

In the girls Final, Traverse City West led by 18 pins after the first Baker game, but Holt shot 157 to open up an 10-pin lead going into singles play.

Traverse City West had advanced to the championship match by easing past Grandville 1,265-1,111, while Holt edged Westland John Glenn 1,167-1,155.

Zeeland was the top girls qualifier at 3,271 pins, followed by Sterling Heights Stevenson at 3,174 and Grandville at 3,159. The hard-luck school was South Lyon, which missed the last qualifying spot by one pin.

Zeeland’s run for the girls title was short-lived, though.

With a raucous crowd behind them shouting “Rocket Power,” Westland John Glenn’s bowlers knocked off the top seed in a heart breaker, 1,089-1,088, to advance to the semifinals.

Stevenson, the No. 2 seed, also had a tough afternoon and fell to Traverse City West, 1,149-1,132. That set up the Titans’ showdown with Grandville, which had eliminated Grand Blanc 1,198-1,122.

It was a tough day for annual powerhouse Macomb Area Conference teams, girls and boys, as they were all eliminated in the quarterfinals. Holt defeated reigning Division 1 champion Dakota in the girls division 1,245-1,195.

On the boys side, Davison jumped from ninth after the first singles games of qualifying to first with a 1,113 score in the second set of singles for a total qualifying score of 3,598. The Cardinals had lost five of six starters from a year ago, which made the run to the top even more impressive.

Jenison was second in qualifying at 3,594, Utica Eisenhower third at 3,538 and Wayne Memorial fourth at 3.496. Macomb Dakota was the other Macomb Area Conference team to make the top eight with a score of 3,474.

Davison’s run abruptly came to an end, however, when eighth-seed Livonia Churchill prevailed, 1,177-1,162 to start bracket play. Churchill moved on to face Wayne Memorial, which had eliminated Dakota 1,179-1,162.

Brownstown Woodhaven bested Eisenhower, 1,308-1,251, and moved on to face Jenison, which was six pins better than seventh-seed Byron Center, 1,258-1,252.

Division 1 Final ResultsBoys | Girls

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

By Tim Robinson
Special for MHSAA.com

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