Tales of Teams, Trophies & Trinkets

March 30, 2016

By Ron Pesch
Special for Second Half

High school athletics leaves behind an amazing array of treasures – although while buried in a keepsake box, or trophy case, the awards stand silent. 

For many, their meaning and worth only continues to grow in value. Yet, in other cases, time can be cruel. For some trophies and trinkets, their worth diminishes as the stories contained within are lost behind retirements, neglect, administration decisions and death.

Following are a few tales that live on from more than a century of Michigan high school sports.

  1909

Muskegon High School

Track Trophy

The search continues for the oldest state title trophy presented to a high school in the state of Michigan. This beauty, on display at Muskegon High School within the school’s storied trophy cases, currently leads the pack.  In 1909, Muskegon coach Robert Zuppke’s team tallied 43½ points to win the fourth annual Michigan Agricultural College Interscholastic meet in Lansing. The total was the largest sum in the history of the meet, exceeding Detroit University School’s total of 27½ points and Detroit Central’s third-place total of 25 points.

Dominant in the field events, Muskegon was led by George Shaw, who set a new record in the pole vault at 11 feet, 2 inches, and by George Cowley, whose 4:47 time in the mile also set a new mark. Cowley’s time in the mile ranked among the top in the middle west.

Zuppke moved on a year later to coach at Oak Park, Ill., then to the University of Illinois where he became known as one of the great coaching minds in the history of college football. Shaw would school at Northwestern University while Cowley spent some time at the University of Chicago following graduation.

1923

Dollar Bay

2nd U.P. Class B Tournament  

Someone within the Dollar Bay roster was once the proud owner of this silver basketball fob, given to team members by Northern Michigan Normal College for finishing second in the 6th annual Class B High School Basketball Tournament hosted at Northern State Normal College. According to documentation on the event, six sessions were held, and during presentation of the awards, only seven fobs were awarded to each of the top three teams. As was quite common at the time, only last names of players were mentioned in the game program and newspaper coverage. I guess back in the day, everyone who needed to know already knew the player’s first name.

Purchased on Etsy, perhaps this medal was owned by Stevens, who played one of the guard spots and served as team captain. He was responsible for all nine of the team’s points in the Class B championship game.  Perhaps it belonged to Penphrase or Mattson, who each scored four points in the semifinal round, where Dollar Bay trounced Stambaugh 21-12. Munising defeated Newberry 15-10 in the semifinal, setting the stage for the title game. Munising won the Saturday evening contest, 17-9, and earned the right to play the Class A winner for the “supremacy of the Upper Peninsula." One week later at the Normal Gym, Munising topped Escanaba, winner of the Class A tournament, for the honor.

  1927

J. Perry Austin

Three Oaks

4:57.3

Along with his brother Phil, Joseph Perry Austin was one of 20 graduates in the class of 1927 at Three Oaks High School (Today known as Three Oaks River Valley). The most famous of the group was perhaps Joe Savoldi, who would star at Notre Dame.

The Austin boys moved to Three Oaks from Waukegan, Ill, when they reached high school age. There, Perry, as he was known among family and friends, would excel athletically and academically, winning the Class C MHSAA state championship in the mile and serving as valedictorian of his class. Phil was salutatorian. This medal, presented at Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Michigan State University) was found on Ebay.

Following graduation, Perry attended the University of Michigan, where he was crowned Big Ten Champion in the two mile in 1931. That same year, Austin was honored by the Big Ten with the conference’s prestigious Medal of Honor, awarded one per sport, for athletic and academic achievement in Track & Field. He would remain at Michigan, earning a doctorate in chemistry in 1935.

After graduation, he worked for Abbot Labs in Chicago. In the 1940s, Austin joined the seminary and became an Episcopalian priest, serving parishes in Wisconsin, Texas and Michigan. Ultimately, he returned to education, teaching high school chemistry in Toledo, Ohio. He passed away in 1991.

His brother Phil would ultimately become an internationally renowned watercolorist and a member of the exclusive American Water Color Society. 

1940

Merrill Vandals scoreboard

Castle Museum, Saginaw

As the story goes, Merrill High School students built this scoreboard in shop class sometime during the late 1930s for use in their high school gymnasium. The board served the district for approximately the next 50 years. “It was always an honor to be selected as one of the kids to operate the scoreboard,” recalled Keith Clark, a former Merrill student who in later years served as a coach, then administrator in the district. “One kid would operate the home side and the other would operate the away side.”

When the new high school opened in 1956, the scoreboard remained in place at the building where it served junior high school teams until the 1980s. It was ultimately presented to Walt Krause, a longtime employee of the Merrill school district. Thanks to the efforts of Clark, and the kindness of the Krause family, the board eventually made its way to the Saginaw Sports Hall of Fame with a single stipulation – that the score displayed should always show Merrill leading.

1947

Brethren Dickson

Basketball Team

A scan of a photo cherished by the son of one of the team members, this team picture would likely go unnoticed mixed in with a stack of others. Yet, standing in the back row, wearing number 27, is an individual with a likeness, and most certainly a voice, that would be recognized by tens of millions. The Brethren Dickson basketball team of 1947 was eliminated early in the tournament. The 1932 team finished the year as runner-up to Portage for the Lower Peninsula’s Class D title. In 1963, Brethren lost in the state semifinals to eventual Class D state champion Britton.

Using his full given name, one can argue that James Earl Jones ranks with Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the state’s most famous basketball player, though his fame is for something entirely different than his ability to shoot a basketball.

1967

Ann Arbor University High School

Track Trophy

Found at a thrift store in Ann Arbor, it was purchased for $2.12, tax included. Showing its age, the trophy was earned by Ann Arbor University High’s track team that finished second to Detroit St. Charles.

Ann Arbor University High was a demonstration school operated by the University of Michigan’s School of Education. In 1922, the State of Michigan legislature approved $525,000 for the construction and furnishing of the building near the campus of the university. In the fall of 1924, the school was opened with 123 students in grades 7-12. In 1930, an elementary school was added. According to U-M’s Bentley Historical Library, “the school was used as a demonstration center for educators in the newer practices of educating children.”

University High’s athletic teams were nicknamed the Cubs, an obvious nod to the University of Michigan’s Wolverines. University High continued to operate into the 1960s, when a decision was made by U-M’s School of Education to close the school.

The 1967 team, led by Dave Shipman, finished second to Detroit St. Charles in point total, 64 to 47. Shipman, an individual winner in both the 100 and 220-yard events, also ran on University’s victorious 880 relay team. A year later, the final senior class graduated from the school.

1984

Brimley High School

Volleyball

This medal dates to the days when champions were crowned in volleyball in both upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. (In the year 2000, the tournament was unified.) This is another Ebay find.

Between 1980 and 1990 the U.P. staged a single open tournament for all schools north of the Mackinac Bridge. Despite competing against schools with much larger enrollment, the Brimley Bays captured seven titles during those 11 years of competition. Located just off I-75, coach Charles Compo’s team traveled extensively into the Lower Peninsula to gain experience. The time and travel paid dividends as the team captured five straight titles between 1981 and 1985. The 1984 title came with 15-3, 15-11 wins over Bessemer. That season, Compo was named U.P. Coach of the Year.

“Compo retired in 1990 with an amazing record of 408 victories and only 74 losses,” notes the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, recognizing the achievements of those squads. “Seventeen of Compo's players would earn all-state honors, a total of 32 times.”

  2009

Allison Pall

East Grand Rapids

1:50:09

“When the boys on the football team got whiny about practice, their coach would bring them to one of our practices,” remembered Allison Pall, discussing the hours spent training before earning this medal as a member of the East Grand Rapids 200 medley relay team. Those practices were run by legendary swimming coach Milton “Butch” Briggs, Jr. Since taking on the task in fall of 1975, Briggs has led the girls to 19 MHSAA championships and the boys to 10 titles.

Pall, along with schoolmates Ally Bremer, Molly Lundquist, and Karly Surman won the 200 medley relay with an MHSAA Finals time of 1:50.09 at Eastern Michigan. A year later Pall, Bremer, Emily Lundquist and Katie Lachance again won the 200 medley relay, at 1:48.82 at Holland Aquatic Center. The girls clocked a 1:48:75 in the prelims the day prior, establishing a then-school record.

A late beginner in the sport, Pall took up competitive swimming in seventh grade. Following high school graduation, Pall headed to Ann Arbor to enroll at the University of Michigan, where she left behind her swimming career. Her height, an advantage in swimming, meant she was recruited to join the University Rowing team. She stayed for a season, deciding to dedicate herself to studies. Today, Allison is in pursuit of her Master’s degree in Public Health. Her medals will not be found for sale online. They still mean the world to her.

Ron Pesch has taken an active role in researching the history of MHSAA events since 1985 and began writing for MHSAA Finals programs in 1986, adding additional features and "flashbacks" in 1992. He inherited the title of MHSAA historian from the late Dick Kishpaugh following the 1993-94 school year, and resides in Muskegon. Contact him at [email protected] with ideas for historical articles.

PHOTO: George Shaw prepares for the pole vault for Muskegon High in 1909. (Photos gathered by Ron Pesch.)

Preview: Contenders Old & New Seek to Join Growing Series of Bowling Champs

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 29, 2024

Recent history tells us that perhaps no MHSAA Finals gives us a greater variety of champions than the season-concluding tournaments for girls and boys bowling.

Aside from dominance over the last several seasons by the Flint Kearsley and Bronson girls teams, almost every other division has seen an annual rotation of winners – and we’re guaranteed at least four new singles champions as well this weekend.

Below is a look at possible contenders for all 16 championships, team and singles. Action begins both days at 8:25 a.m. – teams competing Friday and singles Saturday – with Division 1 at Allen Park’s Thunderbowl Lanes, Division 2 at Waterford's Century Bowl, Division 3 at Jackson’s Jax 60 and Division 4 at Muskegon’s Northway Lanes. Find the full list of qualifiers and come back all weekend for coverage from all four Finals sites on MHSAA.com.

Girls Division 1

Team: The last seven seasons have seen seven different champions. Macomb Dakota took the title in 2022 and entered this postseason ranked No. 2, and may be the favorite. The Cougars rolled a 2,989 to win their Regional at Five Star Lanes in Sterling Heights. Reigning Division 1 champion Holt posted the top Division 1 Regional score, however, with a 3,092 at Grand Blanc Lanes, and Utica followed with a winning 3,083 at Century Bowl in Waterford.

Singles: It was easy to anticipate the strength of this field even a year ago as all eight quarterfinalists were either sophomores or juniors. Total, nine of the 16 bowlers who reached match play at last year’s Final will compete again this weekend, headlined by Flushing senior Hannah Reid, the returning runner-up. Novi junior Maddy Gazzarari and Traverse City West senior Taylor Phillips also are back after making the semifinals a year ago. Reid, Phillips and Gazzarari all won Regional titles last week, joined by Utica freshman Ava Mazza, Zeeland senior Rylee Smith, Westland John Glenn junior Tiara Henderson, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North freshman Lauren Zalenski and Lincoln Park senior Brianna Peters.

Boys Division 1

Team: Wayne Memorial made it six different winners in six seasons last year, and it will become seven over seven seasons this weekend as neither Wayne nor any of the previous five champions are in this field. In fact, Dakota and Hudsonville are the only two of the 16-team field to ever win a Finals team title. Jenison and Livonia Churchill did make the semifinals last season, and both were Regional champions last week.

Singles: Reigning champion Brendan Riley is back as a senior for Waterford Mott and Regional runner-up last week, when he finished eight pins behind Utica Eisenhower junior Dylan Harnden – a quarterfinalist last year. Traverse City Central junior Carter Banton also is back after making the semifinals in 2023, and total six of last year’s match play competitors will attempt to contend again. Joining Harnden as Regional champs were Traverse City West senior Cooper Phillips, Portage Central junior Matt Sprau, Walled Lake Northern senior Alex Harwood, Davison junior Joe Merz, Plymouth senior Dakota Law, Macomb Dakota senior Landen Moore and Belleville junior Johnathan Hatcher.

Girls Division 2

Team: Flint Kearsley has won eight of the last 10 Division 2 championships and entered this postseason as the top-ranked team – and should be further motivated after entering match play last season as the top seed but failing to advance. The Hornets were one of three Division 2 Regional champs last week to break 3,000 pins, along with Bay City John Glenn and Tecumseh. Reigning Finals champion Sparta also was a Regional title winner, by 221 pins at Eastbrook Lanes in Grand Rapids, and four of the team’s five regular game bowlers from the 2023 championship match also qualified for singles play this weekend.

Singles: Opposite of the Division 1 scenario, only three of last season’s 16 match play qualifiers are bowling this weekend – Flint Kearsley senior Ava Boggs, Livonia Clarenceville junior Caitlyn Johnson and Goodrich senior Rebekah Muzyk. Boggs and Johnson were Regional champions last week, joined by Bay City John Glenn junior Lacy Jamrog, Tecumseh senior Wendy Ketola, Sparta junior Katelyn VanderWerff, Hudsonville Unity Christian sophomore Jaydan Blouw, St. Clair Shores Lake Shore freshman Sara Augustitus and Sturgis senior Kortnie Matz. Muzyk finished runner-up to Boggs at Richfield Bowl in Flint.

Boys Division 2

Team: Eight teams have won this championship over the last eight seasons, and Division 2 hasn’t seen a repeat since Kearsley did so in 2015 – but the Hornets are in position to achieve the same this weekend. The reigning champ entered this postseason ranked No. 2 and posted last week’s top Regional score in the division, 3,679. Last season’s runner-up New Boston Huron and semifinalist Tecumseh also were among Regional champs last week.

Singles: Reigning Finals champion Zeke Heerema dominated his Regional last week at Spectrum Lanes in Wyoming; the Grand Rapids Christian senior won by 180 pins. Last season’s runner-up Owen Williams also will be back after finishing runner-up to Tecumseh teammate and senior classmate Kaden Salts at their Regional. Heerema and Williams are joined by five more returning from last year’s match play, plus Midland junior Evan Daly who made the Division 1 match play in 2023. Daly won his Division 2 Regional last week as well, joined also by Grand Rapids Northview junior Cadyn Pranger, Kearsley senior Gavin Haack, Madison Heights Lamphere junior Nick Weidenbach, Sturgis senior Lane Malone and Huron junior Bradley Hughes.

Girls Division 3

Team: Flint Powers Catholic last season became the sixth team in six years to win the Division 3 team title, and the Chargers were No. 5 in the latest poll this winter – but did finish 332 pins behind Regional champion Madison Heights Bishop Foley at Richfield Bowl. Last season’s Division 3 runner-up Ishpeming Westwood also will be back, but also was a Regional runner-up this time to Cheboygan at Sparetime Lanes in Cheboygan. Milan was the highest roller at a Division 3 Regional, scoring 3,145 at Flat Rock Lanes to win there by 604 pins.

Singles: Reigning champion Sydney Nichols is back as a senior for Onsted and won her Regional by 91 pins last week at Royal Scot in Lansing. Powers senior Elizabeth Teuber won the Regional at Richfield by 169 pins – and was the Finals champion as a freshman, runner-up as a sophomore and reached match play a year ago. Four more match play qualifiers from last season also are back, and two won Regionals last week as well – Westwood senior Elisa Ketola and Shepherd senior Sarah Montney. Grand Rapids West Catholic sophomore Ashley VanLinden, Three Rivers junior Tayler Mohney, Armada sophomore Reese Cecil and Milan sophomore Maggie Smith also were Regional champs.

Boys Division 3

Team: Only two of last season’s match play qualifiers are back this weekend, 2023 semifinalist Gladwin and quarterfinalist Armada, the latter thanks to winning its Regional. Two other Regional champions broke 3,500 pins – Milan (3,533) at Flat Rock Lanes and Frankenmuth (3,509) at Alert Lanes in Essexville.

Singles: Harvey Zelt was the only non-senior to reach the Division 3 semifinals last season, and the Gladwin now-senior will contend this weekend after finishing second at Sparetime Lanes last week to Standish-Sterling junior Kyler Cook. But Zelt also is one of nine from last season’s match play back in this field, including as well Hopkins junior Charlie Brown III, another Regional champ last week. The other Division 3 Regional winners were Armada senior Jacob Meerschaert, Olivet senior Levi Rigelman, Blissfield junior Blake Terrill, Powers Catholic junior Michael Teuber, Frankenmuth senior Mayson Knop and Central Montcalm junior Paytin Pearson.

Girls Division 4

Team: Reigning champion Taylor Trillium Academy is back after finishing Regional runner-up to Allen Park Cabrini at Ten Pin Alleys in Tecumseh. Bronson last won a Finals title in 2022 and will be seeking a fourth championship in six seasons coming off the Division 4-high Regional score of 2,925 last week at The Bronson Strike Zone. Jonesville and Cabrini made the match play semifinals last season, and Jonesville was another Regional champ last week, by 119 pins at Jax 60 in Jackson.

Singles: Three-time reigning champion Morgan Brunner from Gobles graduated, but a pair of semifinalists from last season will bowl this weekend – New Lothrop senior Isabella Dilts and Trillium senior Abbey Slaven. Five more from last season’s match play also will compete Saturday, including Bronson senior Hadassah Bloom and Burton Atherton junior Reagan Baker coming off Regional championships. They were joined as Regional winners by Dilts, Traverse City Christian senior Gwen Oliver, St. Louis senior Madyson Hartman, Ravenna junior Emma Herremans, Jonesville senior Hallie James and Trillium senior Mackenzie Peplinski, who finished just head of teammate Slaven.

Boys Division 4

Team: Reigning champion Grass Lake competed in Division 3 this season, but 2023 runner-up New Lothrop was a Regional champion last week, as were both of last year’s other semifinalists Bronson and Britton Deerfield. Houghton Lake rolled the division’s highest Regional score, 3,518, to win at Lucky Jacks in Traverse City by 365 pins.

Singles: Reigning champion Alex McCarthy is back as a junior and Regional champion as he and his Saginaw Nouvel teammates took the top three spots and four of the top five last week at Northern Lanes in Sanford. Cabrini junior Bryce Cadaret also is back after finishing 2023 Final runner-up, as are semifinalists Matthew Miller from Burton Atherton and Cole Bradshaw from New Lothrop – those two both seniors this season. Three more from last year’s match play are back as well, including two more Regional champions from last week – Detroit Loyola senior Ryan Champion and Jonesville junior Andrew Sackett. Also winning Regionals were Burr Oak junior Jacob Trennepohl, Atherton junior Michael Demey, Ravenna senior Matt Anton and Traverse City Christian junior Ethan Ehlert.