By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Beginning with Friday's Team Finals, the MHSAA will cap a decade of bowling as a sponsored sport by awarding 16 champions over a 30-hour period.
On the girls side, a number of previously-successful teams and individuals should contend again. The boys Team Finals in particular should be a little more unpredictable, with two of four 2012 champions not qualifying for this season's field.
All Team Finals are Friday, and Individual Finals are Saturday. Click for the full list of girls qualifies and boys qualifiers, and come back to Second Half all weekend for coverage from all four Finals sites.
Girls Division 1
Team: Reigning champion Davison has been ranked No. 1 in the last two coaches association polls and rolled the highest Regional score, 3,876. Only Macomb Dakota – a Quarterfinalist last season – came within 170 pins of matching the Cardinals last weekend, rolling a 3,865. Second-ranked Muskegon Mona Shores did win its Regional, tallying a 3,683.
Individual: Reigning champion Allison Morris was only a freshman last season when she defeated then-junior Kristen Young of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 393-354 in the Final. Both are back, along with six more of last season’s match play qualifiers. Davison senior Brooke Wood was a Semifinalist in 2012 and Sterling Heights Stevenson senior Lauren Krywy was an all-state first-team selection. Wood’s 1,310 was 72 pins more than any other Regional score in this division last weekend.
Boys Division 1
Team: There definitely will be a new champion in this division, as 2012 and 2011 winner Macomb Dakota didn’t qualify for Friday’s tournament. Nor did 2012 Semifinalist Davison, although runner-up Canton did get in with a third place at its Regional. Unranked Utica was the fourth Semifinalist last season and posted the division’s highest Regional score of 4,156, followed at its Regional and overall by also-unranked Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (4,144).
Individual: This could be the most unpredictable of the weekend’s events, with none of last season’s Division 1 match play qualifiers back for these Finals. But Division 2 champion Derek Nyenhuis is rolling in this division this season, and was runner-up at his Regional. Another intriguing possibility is Utica senior Josh Pointer, who bowled last year for Dakota’s team champion and threw a 300 in winning his Regional with a 1,392. Only two others – Kalamazoo Loy Norrix junior Zach Brandt (1,371) and Grand Blanc senior Travis Sutherland (1,321) broke 1,300 pins in Division 1 last week.
Girls Division 2
Team: Flint Kearsley claimed its first championship last season by 161 pins over runner-up Tecumseh, and those two plus Semifinalists Jackson Northwest and Charlotte all are back this weekend after claiming Regional championships. Although third-ranked Holly did not qualify for the Finals, No. 4 Bay City Western did by finishing second to Kearsley at their Regional. Jackson Northwest’s 3,934 was the highest Regional score in the division.
Individual: Only four of last season’s match play qualifiers in this division weren't seniors, but three are back at the Finals including reigning champion Jordan Richard. The Tecumseh senior won her Regional by 25 pins over sister Haley, also a senior. Teammate Lauren McKowen, another senior, also is back after making the 2012 match play. Richland Gull Lake senior Samantha Knight rolled a 1,199 for the top Regional score in Division 2 last weekend, and three other 2012 Finals qualifiers also won Regionals.
Boys Division 2
Team: Like in Division 1, there will be a new champ as last year’s winner, Mason, didn't qualify. But Bay City John Glenn lost to the Bulldogs by only three pins last season and won its Regional by 123 with a total of 3,923 to finish ahead of No. 2 Bay City Western and No. 3 Flint Kearsley at their site. Top-ranked Swartz Creek also won its Regional, but the high score in the division went to unranked South Lyon, 4,013.
Individual: With Wyoming’s Nyenhuis now in Division 1, the only match play qualifier coming back in Division 2 is Bay City John Glenn senior Nathan Moszyk, who won his Regional with the second-highest score in his division for the day. The best belonged to Holly senior Andrew Anderson, who rolled a 1,359 to win his Regional by 127 pins.
Girls Division 3
Team: Reigning champion Flat Rock defeated runner-up Richmond by 106 pins in last season’s Final, but with 3,619 was only 10 better than the Blue Devils for top Regional score in Division 3 last weekend. Six of last season’s Quarterfinalists will be back Friday, with unranked Cheboygan one to watch after rolling the third-highest Regional score in this division, 3,550.
Individual: Although seven of last season’s 16 match play qualifiers are back this weekend, this championship could land with any of a number of contenders with only Richmond junior Noelle Scheuer back among 2012 Quarterfinalists. She won her Regional with the third-highest score in D3 last weekend – a 1,202 – while Flat Rock senior Lindsay Risden was first for the weekend with a 1,325 and Alma junior Hannah Chase was second with a 1,297. Chase was the top match play qualifier last season, and Risden missed the group by just 23 pins.
Boys Division 3
Team: Reigning champion Fremont is ranked No. 1 again and qualified second at its Regional behind unranked Hudsonville Unity Christian. Ishpeming and South Haven both will be back as well after making the Semifinals last season. Ishpeming was one of four teams to break 4,000 pins at a D3 Regional, where it finished runner-up to No. 8 Pinconning – the top roller in the division for this round with a score of 4,366.
Individual: Onsted senior Cory Hunt, Unity Christian junior Troy Potgeter and Otsego junior Ryan Lovett all made the Quarterfinals last season, and Hunt won his Regional last weekend. A contender to keep in mind is Essexville-Garber senior Ethan Ayala, who qualified for the Finals last season and threw the best Regional score in Division 3 last weekend of 1,361. Bridgeport senior Oscar Gutierrez was just behind him with a 1,327.
Girls Division 4
Team: All eight of last season’s Quarterfinalists advanced to Friday’s championship tournament again, with reigning champion Sandusky (3,347), runner-up Vandercook Lake (3,618) and three others winning Regionals. One of those, Portland St. Patrick, rolled the division’s highest Regional score of 3,673.
Individual: Vandercook Lake likewise could dominate this competition, with three who made the match play last season back again. Junior Jessica Bunch won her Regional with a 1,233, with teammates Becky Cecil (senior), Malloree Ambs and Kelsea Reichard (both juniors) rounding out the top four – and any of the four would've won two other Regionals with their scores. Watch for Sandusky junior Melissa Sleda, a Finals qualifier in 2012 and the second-highest roller of all Division 4 Regional competitors last weekend with a 1,168.
Boys Division 4
Team: Rogers City is ranked only No. 6, but it’s the reigning champion and won its Regional by 237 pins. But top-ranked Sandusky – a Semifinalist last season – plus No. 2 St. Louis and No. 5 Bad Axe all are in Friday’s field as well. Unranked Ravenna posted the highest Regional score in Division 4, 3,847.
Individual: Only four non-seniors made the 2012 match play, and only Whittemore-Prescott senior Cody Clough is back for Saturday – he advanced to the Quarterfinals last season. Muskegon Western Michigan Christian senior Jacob Bush made Finals weekend last season, and could be a contender after winning his Regional with a Division 4-best score of 1,341.
PHOTO: St. Louis sophomore Zach Fenby hopes to help the Sharks win their first MHSAA team championship this weekend. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)