Few MHSAA sports end with as many unexpected champions as emerge at the Bowling Finals, which will be contested this weekend at four sites around the state.
Below is our rundown of some of the favorites in each division -- and guesses at a few surprises as well.
Girls Division 1
Team: Of the top five teams in the final rankings, only one didn’t qualify for this weekend. Reigning champion New Baltimore Anchor Bay is back, but runner-up Taylor Kennedy moved into Division 2 this season. Top-ranked Davison, No. 3 Muskegon Mona Shores and No. 5 Brighton all won Regionals, and unranked Oxford did as well – ahead of four ranked teams.
Singles: Three of last season’s top four are back: reigning champion Tori Ferris of Portage Central, runner-up Kate Gladstone of Lake Orion and semifinalist Danielle Robson of Howell. Ferris won her Regional ahead of three placers from Davison, but finished just 12 pins better than senior Erin Brown – whose 531 series was third-best in the state this season according to the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association. Brighton senior Marissa Campbell and Ann Arbor Huron’s Allison Morris tied for just fifth at their Regional, but both have been among the top scorers this winter; Morris posted the fourth and eighth-best series in the state.
Boys Division 1
Team: Reigning champion Macomb Dakota is ranked just No. 6 and finished as a Regional runner-up to unranked Utica. Wayne Memorial also is unranked, but was a semifinalist last season and posted the top Regional team score in all of Division 1 by 54 pins. Top-ranked Davison had the second-best Regional score, and No. 2-ranked Sterling Heights Stevenson also qualified with a third-place finish at its Regional.
Singles: This might seem a little wide open with none of last season’s semifinalists back. The favorite could be Brownstown-Woodhaven senior Dustin Rose – his Regional score of 1,419 was 40 pins better than anyone else’s in Division 1, and his high two-game series this season of 548 is eighth-best in the state. Watch for Wayne Memorial senior Elliot Arnold, another Regional champ whose two-game 577 is the second-highest series statewide this season. Davison senior Tyler Greene and New Baltimore Anchor Bay seniors Shawn Bibee and Sean Mariotti also could be in the mix.
Girls Division 2
Team: All four semifinalists from 2011 are back, with reigning champion Charlotte, top-ranked Tecumseh and No. 2 Flint Kearsley all Regional champions last weekend. Charlotte was unranked entering the postseason, but placed three individual Finals qualifiers – and that group didn’t include arguably the team’s top two bowlers. Kearsley has four individual Finals qualifiers, while Tecumseh and Bay City John Glenn – last season’s other semifinalist – also has three. Also qualifying as a team was Taylor Kennedy, last season’s Division 1 runner-up.
Singles: This field is loaded, led by reigning champion and Flint Kearsley senior Lindsey Ploof. She finished second to Lapeer East senior Justice Schihl at the Regional. Tecumseh’s Jordan Richard made the semifinals last season and won her Regional last weekend – and her 548 series was second-best in the state this season. Charlotte sophomore Ciarra Landry has three of the top 22 series in the state this winter – and finished only eighth in a strong Regional.
Boys Division 2
Team: This is ripe for a surprise champ. Top-ranked Richland Gull Lake qualified, but after finishing only third at its Regional. No. 2-ranked Owosso and No. 3 Taylor Truman both failed to make the Final. Bay City John Glenn was a semifinalist last season and won its Regional with a Division 2-best 4,256 despite coming into the postseason ranked only No. 8.
Singles: John Glenn senior Zach Fylling came in only seventh at his Regional, but is the reigning Division 2 champion. Hazel Park senior Charles Zelechowski turned in the best Regional score in Division 2, a 1,323, although South Lyon East senior Anthony Dinsmore was just behind, both at the Regional and statewide, with a 1,319. Watch for Richland Gull Lake sophomore Collin Rickey. He won his Regional with a 1,305, and posted the third (568) and tied for fifth-best (555) two-game series in the state this season.
Girls Division 3
Team: All four semifinalists from 2011 are back, with Wyoming Kelloggsville again ranked No. 1 after winning the championship last season. Kelloggsville won its regional last week, as did Ovid-Elsie – which although unranked, also made the semifinals last season and beat No. 4 Richmond in the process of qualifying for Friday’s Final. In fact, Ovid-Elsie and Richmond had the highest Regional scores in all of Division 3, both by more than 400 pins.
Singles: Last season quarterfinalists Rebecca Jasinowski of Jackson Lumen Christi and Jessica Lubbers of Kelloggsville are contenders. Juniors Loretta Hinds of Battle Creek Pennfield and Lindsay Risden of Flat Rock both made match play last season and won Regionals last weekend. Also, watch for Ovid-Elsie senior Leah Hartman, whose 524 series was fifth-best in the state this winter
Boys Division 3
Team: Among regional champions were top-ranked Muskegon Orchard View and No. 3 Richmond, but also unranked Flat Rock and Birch Run – the teams Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard beat on the way to winning last season’s title in the semifinals and championship match, respectively. The top Regional score of 3,936 came from No. 6 Pinconning.
Singles: Ishpeming senior Spencer Leivo and Grand Rapids Catholic Central senior Henry Huvaere both made the semifinals in 2011 and are back – Huvaere missed the championship match by only five pins last season. Nine bowlers total rolled at least 1,200 at their Regionals, with Almont senior Jason McKelvey topping the list at 1,254. His series of 543 was 11th-best in the state this winter.
Girls Division 4
Team: All but one of the top 10 teams entering the postseason are in the field. After finishing 1-2 at last season’s Final, Vandercook Lake and Sandusky are ranked as such again. The only Regional won by an unranked team was claimed by Ithaca – but the Yellowjackets made the 2011 semifinals and are led by a veteran in senior Farrand Schneider, an individual Regional champ.
Singles: Although the reigning champion is not in this weekend’s field, the runner-up and two other semifinalists return. Sandusky senior Lillie Miller will attempt to move up one more spot after losing last year’s individual Final by just nine pins – and falling to teammate Bryanna Mater in last week’s Regional by 14. The other two returning semifinalists had mixed success at Regionals – Grandville Calvin Christian senior Allison Velzen won hers, while Bellaire junior Kristen Schlegel tied for fifth at her tournament. The high Regional scorer in Division 4 was Vandercook Lake sophomore Malloree Ambs, with a 1,231.
Boys Division 4
Team: Sandusky fell by only 24 pins to eventual champion Grass Lake in a Quarterfinal last season, but entered the postseason ranked No. 1 and posted the second-highest Regional score in this division. But no team in Division 4 last week got within 300 pins of No. 7 Rogers City, which posted a 4,225 and also made the quarterfinals last season. Reigning runner-up St. Louis is back, as is semifinalist Bad Axe. And don’t forget about No. 2-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia, another Regional champion.
Singles: This could be wide open as well. Rogers City junior Zach Hazel, Riverview Gabriel Richard senior Justin McClain and Sandusky senior Tyler Johnston are the only three of 16 from last season’s Division 4 Final match play who qualified this time – and none made the 2011 Quarterfinals. Hazel had the second-highest Division 4 Regional score last weekend, 1,257, behind only senior brother Justin Hazel’s 1,331.
PHOTO courtesy of High School Sports Scene.