Strike! Bowlers claim state title

Here is the 2018 State Champion Oxford Lady Wildcats varsity bowling team – Head Coach J.R. Lafnear (back row, from left) Marissa Smith, Megan Armbruster, Savannah Barnes, and Assistant Coach Fred Heichel. In the front row (from left) are Deanna Staser, Claire Sandstrom and Jenny Legault. Photo provided.
Here is the 2018 State Champion Oxford Lady Wildcats varsity bowling team – Head Coach J.R. Lafnear (back row, from left) Marissa Smith, Megan Armbruster, Savannah Barnes, and Assistant Coach Fred Heichel. In the front row (from left) are Deanna Staser, Claire Sandstrom and Jenny Legault. Photo provided.

On March 2, the Wildcats girls varsity bowling team claimed the Michigan state title for the first time in Oxford bowling history.

“What an emotional ride it was through qualifying and through match play. How crazy is it to think that, out of 91 Division 1 high schools, our Wildcats are Number One?” said Head Coach J.R. Lafnear.

During qualifying, the team stayed around the cut line in the eight baker games and first regular game.

In the final regular game, the team shot an incredible 1017 that catapulted it into the number two seed.

Only eight teams advanced out of the 18 that had made it to the finals.

In the finals, each team would bowl two baker games and one regular game, with the team with the most pins moving on.

The Lady Cats would face the team that finished behind them at regionals the week before, Saginaw Heritage.

After the two baker games the Wildcats were down by 18 pins. The team rallied from behind in the regular game winning 920 to 886. This gave the Cats a 16-pin victory to make the final four.

Holt High School awaited the Oxford girls in the next round. The girls won both baker games 158 to 154 and 172 to 149. After a back-and-forth game, the Lady Cats won 863 to 849. Their 1193-to-1152 win sent the Lady Cats back to the final game for the second year in a row.

Macomb Dakota was the other team in the finals. Dakota had already beaten the number 1 seed, Jenison and L’Anse Creuse North to make into the final 2. Oxford jumped out to a 192 to 160 victory in baker game 1. Dakota came back with a 169 to 163 win in baker game 2. The 26-pin lead for the Wildcats would be very important.

In the regular game, the Wildcats started strong, but Dakota rallied back. Going into the final frame, Dakota had over a 50-pin lead. Sophomore Mya Bruno brought the Cats back, bowling three strikes in the 10th frame.

Freshman Grace Meyer matched Dakota’s Emma Price in the 10th. Deanna Staser tossed the sixth strike of the game and bested Dakota’s Rachel Copley 204 to 198.

Megan Armbruster had a strike in the ninth frame and doubled up with a strike and a spare in the tenth. Oxford now trailed by 31-pins, but had 26-pins from the baker games in the bank. The match was down to five pins and both anchor bowlers scored strikes in the ninth frame.

Macomb’s Danielle McBride, who the following day won the state individual title, was up first. McBride, who had struggled in the final game, left a split in the tenth and totaled nine pins. Junior Claire Sandstrom, who had struggled in the final game, found her focus and threw a perfect shot and a strike.

Oxford lost the game 861 to 848, but won the match and the title 1203 to 1190.

“This is the first state title for the bowling program and I can’t believe it,” said Lafnear. “These girls were amazing all day and showed great poise and determination. They battled and fought like Wildcats and I’m so proud of them.”

In singles action, Armbruster qualified seventh but lost a close match in the first round.

 

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