By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half
ALLEN PARK – The minute she saw the match play draw at Saturday’s Division 1 Bowling Singles Finals, Oxford’s Megan Armbruster’s eyes lit up. She had already mentally circled a name on her half of the draw.
A year ago Armbruster’s dreams of winning an individual championship were dashed by Jenison’s Lauren Slagter, who ousted Armbruster in the first round of match play. It’s something that did not sit well with the Wildcats senior. So when she saw a potential semifinal matchup at this year’s Finals, she was all in.
“(Slagter) had knocked me out last year and I was upset,” Armbruster said. “After I won the quarterfinal match here today, I noticed that I had to play her and I just wanted to get revenge.”
She certainly got her revenge, and then went on to defeat St. Clair Shores Lake Shore sophomore Dani Decruydt in the title match, 416-367, at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park.
“It feels so awesome to finish my career off like that,” said Armbruster, who was seeded 12th out of the qualifying round. “It was super quiet out there, and my legs were shaking, but I didn’t feel my nerves at all. I just kept throwing the ball, staying super calm and shooting the ball one at a time.”
Armbruster collected four strikes in her first five frames of the final and did not have an open frame the entire first game. She led Decruydt by 34 pins after Game 1 and calmly pulled away for the first Finals singles bowling title in Oxford history.
“I’m especially proud of Megan. Her brother (Eric) bowled for me when she was like in the sixth grade,” said her coach, J.R. Lafnear. “She saw her brother bowl … and she fell in love with the sport.
“So she began working with us. Her mom and the rest of her family are outstanding supporters of our program. For her it’s special.”
Armbruster defeated Taylor’s Abigail Bird in her first match of the day before ousting Flushing’s Evelyn Cano in the quarterfinals.
Decruydt was the seventh seed after six games of qualifying action. She defeated Farmington-Harrison’s Carrington Beaman in her first match and followed it up with wins over Holt’s Gabriella Van Horn and Jenison’s Anna Bartz to reach the Final.
“Dani never gets too high or too low,” said her coach, Jeff Villasurda. “The great thing about Dani is that nothing ever really fazes her. Nothing’s too big for her. So she wasn’t really fazed by what was going on out there. The other girl just made a couple extra shots.”
Over on the boys’ side, Brownstown Woodhaven senior Jeff Lizewski went out in style, catching fire at just the right time.
After piecing together a mediocre qualifying block score of 1,210 – good for just the 15th seed – Lizewski averaged a 222 over eight games of match play, capping things off with a 453-322 victory over Jenison senior Nick Slagter.
Lizewski strung together five straight strikes to open the final and never really had to look back.
“I came out of qualifying 15th, and I started off real bad. I didn’t have a good look at all in the first game,” said Lizewski, who reached the quarterfinal round last year as a junior. “I made a big ball switch, and I threw it until I came home with a win.”
Lizewski, who will be bowling at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater next year, narrowly edged the 2-seed, Abery Thomas of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, in his first match, 445-440. He then got past Macomb Dakota’s Kyle Finn, 443-435, in the quarterfinals and downed Salem’s John Hall, 433-325, in the semifinals.
Slagter defeated Saline’s Dallas Casey and Walled Lake Central’s Nick Casagrande and Jarrod Willbur in his next two matches to reach the final.
“If there was one person I’d want to lose to over there it would be Lizewski,” said Slagter, who wrapped up his high school career Saturday. “I have bowled against him in some out-of-season tournaments, and he’s filthy.
“I feel like I bowled great this weekend. I tried my best in the team event yesterday, and we fell just a little short in making the cut. But today, I did fall a little short in the championship match but I’m really happy overall. I had fun.”