High school bowlers do well at finals

Steve Brownlee

Usually advancing further into a state playoff means less success for local athletes no matter what the sport. The quality of the competition just keeps getting better and better.

But the the Ishpeming-Negaunee and Westwood high school teams bucked that trend at the MHSAA Bowling Finals held downstate over the weekend, as I read the results on the MHSAA website, www.mhsaa.com.

In singles competition held Saturday, regional champion Megan Wilkins of I-N and freshman Stephen Kangas of Westwood each advanced through qualifying and two rounds of match play to reach the semifinals of their respective tournaments.

Four other bowlers from the two schools also made it to match play, for Ishpeming-Negaunee in Division 3 held at Northway Lanes in Muskegon and Westwood in Division 4 at M-66 Bowl in Battle Creek.

A day earlier in the team competition, the two area teams that qualified for the state finals, the I-N girls and Westwood boys, also made it through qualifying to match play.

This was particularly impressive in singles, considering that each field included 60 bowlers who were the top 10 finishers at the six regionals held in every division.

Following six games of qualifying at the finals, the top 16 scorers advanced to match play, much like the Upper Peninsula Bowling Conference did in its singles finals in February.

Maybe that’s why Wilkins and Kangas did so well — they were also qualifiers at the UPBCs.

Wilkins rolled the second-highest score of the 60 girls in Muskegon, 1,159 for a 193.2 average. That included a 648 start on games of 205, 210 and 233. Top qualifier with 1,291 was Kendyl Hofmeister of Essexville Garber, who is the daughter of Michigan Majors all-time champion Dale Hofmeister.

Wilkins then won a pair of two-game matches to reach the semis, beating No. 15 qualifier Morgan Hosbein of Coloma with games of 224 and 177 in a 401-367 win, then defeating No. 10 Lynsey Blonshine of Stanton Central Montcalm with 262 and 191 for a 453-335 blowout.

Wilkins then ran into No. 11 Tessie Birchmeier of Birch Run as she shot games of 184 and 155 in a 397-339 loss.

Birchmeier lost in the championship match to Shelby Kapanowski of Algonac, 372-320.

Kangas, an accomplished two-hander, qualified in a more modest 12th in Battle Creek with 1,125, making the 16-bowler cut by 26 pins. His top games were 235 and 200.

Then he caught fire, beating No. 5 Vaughn Filkins of New Lothrop with games of 189 and 180 for a 369-310 win, and besting No. 13 Grant Huebel of Oscoda with games of 201 and 194 for a 395-374 victory.

His semifinal loss came to No. 8 Luke Cantrell of Genesee with 200 and 213 in a tough 423-413 loss.

In the next match, Cantrell edged Keegan Campbell of Vandercook Lake 356-354 for the state title.

Three more I-N bowlers also made match play. The lone boy from I-N, senior Hunter Peterson, was fifth in qualifying with 1,252, including 235, 227, 211 and 203.

In his opener, he felled No. 11 Luke Dalman of Portland with games of 202 and 186 in a 388-367 win, then lost to No. 14 Jack Dalman of Portland with 186 and 172 in a 458-358 decision.

Two I-N girls also qualified. Caitlyn Lee was tied for fifth with 1,092 including games of 213, 204 and 200, while Kassidy Pirkola was 13th with 1,062 and a 205. Pirkola beat out the first bowler to miss match play by just 13 pins.

Lee lost in her first match to Birchmeier, rolling 181 and 135 in a 405-316 setback, while Pirkola was defeated by No. 4 Kayla Kern of Wyoming Kelloggsville with 133 and 156 in a 313-289 loss.

Kangas’ sophomore teammate Dylan Junak, like Wilkins a regional champion, qualified ninth with 1,150 including 228.

He lost his opening match to Cantrell, shooting games of 219 and 143 in a 488-362 loss.

One other area participant at the finals just missed the cut to match play. Westwood junior Brayden Vickstrom was 21st with 1,088, just 11 pins off the cut as he shot a 236 best game.

In team competition on Friday, the 18 teams in each division rolled eight Baker-style games — where teammates alternate frames to come up with a single-game score — and two “regular” games, with the top eight advancing.

As in singles, these were the top qualifiers from the six regionals.

The Patriots’ boys qualified second in Battle Creek with 3,297, a full 174 pins ahead of the first team out in ninth place. WHS had a top Baker game of 206 and team games of 954 and 945.

Westwood won its first match over No. 7 Houghton Lake, 1,166-1,083, to advance to the semifinals. Each match included two Baker games and a regular game with the Pats shooting 144 and 233 Baker and 789 regular.

The Pats then lost to No. 3 Bronson, 1,275-1,125 as they shot 165 and 143 Baker and 817 regular.

Bronson went on to win the state championship, 1,354-1,283.

The I-N girls qualified fifth in Muskegon with 3,039, 86 pins ahead of the first team out and had a high Baker game of 204 and regular games of 852 and 894.

I-N then was eliminated in its first match, 1,288-1,158 by No. 4 Caro. I-N had 146 and 183 Baker and 829 regular.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.