Allen Park — Farmington-Harrison Unified built a 70-pin lead after the first Baker game against Oxford in the boys Division 1 bowling finals at Thunderbowl Lanes on Friday, but knew that it had work to do in order to maintain that and capture the team's first state title.
It then tacked onto that lead, heading into the third leg of the championship match with an 89-pin lead, and held on to secure the Division 1 title, 1,453-1,273.
"It's surreal," Farmington-Harrison coach Dennis Hermani said. "These kids have bought into the mantra of 'it's not bowling, it's family.' "
Each round after the initial qualifier consists of two Baker games, in which a team combines to bowl a single game, and one 10-frame game where each bowler on the team bowls 10 frames.
Senior Blake Ryntz believed his team's day was done after the qualifying round as Farmington-Harrison barely snuck into the quarterfinals. He went from an emotional low to bowling one of the best games of his career to hoist the state title trophy.
"I'm very relieved," Ryntz said. "I'm going to get a little emotional about it. It's my last shot with my teammates. Honestly, it was the greatest feeling of my life, winning this championship."
Ryntz finished with a 269 final game to help Farmington-Harrison cruise to a victory.
Farmington-Harrison came into the finals as the No. 1-ranked team in the state and earned the sixth-seed in the qualifying round. It lived up to that lofty ranking by posting the highest score in each round starting with the quarterfinal.
"It's an out-of-body experience," Hermani said. "I'm so proud of them. We barely made the cut today. When they got (to the finals), they shot the lights out. This is what they wanted."
New Boston Huron qualified as the No. 1 seed heading into the quarterfinals and rolled to the final round. It defeated Tecumseh 1,403-1,352 to secure the first boys bowling state championship in school history.
The Division 2 champs beat eighth-seeded Jackson Northwest and No. 5 seed Owosso to make it to the finals.
There was another first-ever state champion as Gladwin captured the crown with a 1,229-1,152 victory over Ogemaw Heights on Friday.
This was the furthest Gladwin had ever made it in the tournament and it won as the No. 2 seed from the qualifying round, beating Belding and Corunna along the way.
Bronson won the final comfortably over Unionville-Sebewaing, 1,282-1,173.
It won each round by at least 50 pins to win its second straight Division 4 title under Roger Wisman, beating No. 8 seed Portland St. Patrick and No. 4 seed Ishpeming Westwood in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.