With the MHSAA Division 3 Boys Bowling Team State Championship all but wrapped up, Pennfield senior Max Jackson helped the Panthers win with some style.
The three-year varsity captain capped off his team career for the Panthers by rolling six consecutive strikes, helping fifth-ranked Pennfield defeat top-ranked Corunna in the finals at their home alley by a score of 1,312-1,129.
“It is just kind of surreal,” said Jackson, who fired a 187 in the championship at M-66 Bowl. “We would always talk about it all season long. To actually do it, that just puts it over the top.”
With Jackson as captain and fellow senior Bailey Neal leading the way, Pennfield won its first state championship in program history after finishing third in 2015 and runner-up in 2016.
“We worked really hard all season long for it,” said sophomore James Ruoff. “All season long, we put the anger we had from losing last year at state and put it into every match and it finally paid off.”
In the championship, Ruoff rolled a game-high 231. Also for Pennfield, junior Sean Young shot a 222, juniors Joe Larsen and Nick Hohnberger combined to roll a 158 and Neal fired a 150.
“A long journey the last three years with my two seniors,” said Pennfield boys coach Rickie Hinds Jr. “And they finished by achieving the goal they set out to finish.”
Pennfield emerged from the qualifying block as the No. 1 seed, and defeated Durand in the quarterfinals (1,222-1,093) before topping Cheboygan in the semifinals (1,235-1,023).
“From Day 1 at practice, this has been their goal and this has been what they’ve had their sights set on,” said Pennfield program director Mike Roach. “Every tournament we were bowling in, they were the No. 1 seed and they were getting ready for today – and they got it done.”
In the girls final, third-ranked Birch Run won its first title by defeating eighth-ranked Gladwin by 40 pins in the championship.
Fourth-ranked Pennfield was eliminated in the state quarterfinal by Caro, losing by just two pins (1,122-1,120).
DIVISION 1: Seventh-ranked Salem captured its first state championship since 2013, defeating Hudsonville by 53 pins in the boys final. On the girls side, top-ranked Davison repeated as state champion by rolling past fifth-ranked Oxford in the finals.
DIVISION 2: Lowell won its first state championship, defeating Eaton Rapids in the boys championship. Top-ranked Flint Kearsley won its fourth consecutive girls title, defeating Bay City John Glen in the championship.
Sixth-ranked Coldwater defeated Trenton in the girls quarterfinal (1,091-1,040) before falling to Gladwin in the semifinals.
DIVISION 4: No. 2-ranked Vandercook Lake won its first championship, cruising past Sandusky in the boys final. On the girls side, top-ranked Vandercook Lake made it a clean sweep by defeating No. 2-ranked St. Louis in the championship.
The Bronson boys advanced to the quarterfinal round, where the Vikings were defeated by St. Charles.
Nick Buckley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley