By Mark Meyer
Special for Second Half
LANSING – Kyle Tuttle is the undisputed, three-time heavyweight champion of Division 4 bowling in the state of Michigan.
The junior’s victory Saturday in the Singles Final at Royal Scot, 418-381 over Luke Cantrell of Genesee, contained very little of the drama that surrounded last year’s one-pin survival against Ethan Sobczak of Bad Axe.
Tuttle started the first game against Cantrell with strikes in four of the first five frames en route to a commanding 225-192 lead.
“I try not to put myself in situations where I have to dig out of a hole,” said Tuttle, the only three-time singles champion in MHSAA history. “I try to make as many quality shots as possible, and make ‘em all count.”
St. Charles coach Mark Faupel watches Tuttle not so much in amazement but as in admiration.
“He really battled today,” Faupel said. “It might not have showed on the scoresheet, but his hand was sore from a lot of bowling this weekend. Our team made it to the Finals (on Friday), and today he comes back and bowls another full day.
“But, he’s used to it, and he really enjoys it.”
Tuttle, the second seed behind freshman Korey Reichard of Vandercook Lake after the morning qualifier, rattled off match play victories over Logan Hughes of Sandusky (479-353), Tucker Hemmila of L’Anse (419-388) and Austin Kraemer of Riverview Gabriel Richard (392-346) to reach the Final.
Cantrell, a sophomore and the ninth seed after qualifying, reached the Final by defeating Blake Gulick of Ithaca (393-318), Reichard (426-371) and Isaac Solis of Adrian Madison (346-332).
“A bit less hectic this year,” said Tuttle, who practices at least five times a week while also working at Crooked Creek Lanes in Saginaw. “I had things going pretty well this weekend and was able to stay out of trouble.”
Senior Brianna Fish of Vandercook Lake made the big shots when they counted most by striking out in the 10th frame to defeat Alana Wirgau of Rogers City 350-344 in the Division 4 girls championship match. Fish lost the first game of the Final, 181-158, but didn’t reach for the panic button.
Fish’s coach, Todd Reichard, helped her relax and “bowl her game” despite trailing at the midway point.
“Coming into the tournament, I certainly didn’t expect to make it this far,” said Fish, who was seeded third after qualifying and then defeated Rachel Forest of Galesburg Augusta (412-373) in the round of 16, Erica Jones of Sandusky (342-339) in the Quarterfinals and Hayley Sigafoose of Ithaca (363-314) in the Semifinals. “As I went along I gained confidence and felt pretty good going into the Finals. I didn’t get started quite the way I wanted to but it worked out well at the end.”
Wirgau, a senior, worked her way through the bracket as the fourth seed by defeating Shai’erica Gould of Flint Beecher (442-420, including a 49-27 tiebreaker), Lillian Warner of Vandercook Lake (384-380) and Jasmine Lowe of St. Louis (378-357).
Reichard complimented his senior champion for her persistence and practice.
“We worked hard on our 10-pin and spare drills,” Reichard said, “and Brianna showed that, although she struggled at times early in the season, she was willing to put in the work on her game and became a much better bowler by the end of the season.”
PHOTO: Vandercook Lake's Brianna Fish claimed her first MHSAA title at Royal Scot on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Vandercook Lake athletic department.)