Bowlers aim for national tournament in Wichita

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

After a strong fall season, the bowling team is ready for the spring semester. The team has 13 players in total to make up both a junior varsity and varsity team. There are usually seven on varsity and six on junior varsity.

The team competed in eight tournaments in the fall, finishing in the top 10 and even the top five on several occasions.

On Nov. 1, the team hosted the 2014 Jayhawk Collegiate Classic at Royal Crest Lanes in Lawrence and finished in fourth out of nine teams. Freshman Madison Kent led the Wildcats with an average score of 178 and finished in 19th place. Junior Becca Wood and sophomore Lynae Soderholm finished in 20th and 21st, respectively.

“We came really close to beating Wichita (State),” Hill said. “They’re a force to be reckoned with I’d say, but we almost beat them and that’s an accomplishment because they have a lot of international players.”

The team also finished in seventh place at the Leatherneck Classic in Davenport, Iowa, and took sixth place overall at the National Collegiate Team Match Games hosted by McKendree University in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

After the Christmas break, the team came back and played its first tournament on Jan. 17 in Addison, Illinois. The team finished in the top half of the KEGEL/ISBPA Midwest Collegiate Classic.

“This was our first tournament of the semester so we still have two more tournaments to try and make up ground,” sophomore Krista Hill said.

Hill transferred into the Baker bowling program from NCAA Division I Prairie View A&M University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Hill played one year at Prairie View and then came to Baker as a sophomore.

“I decided to come here, which I heard about through my coach at home, like my personal coach, because she knew the coach here,” Hill said. “Otherwise, I probably would have never found out about Baker.”

Coming from an NCAA Division I school, the bowling in the NAIA is much different for Hill, but not necessarily in the skill level.

“In NCAA there’s a lot less teams in the bowling,” Hill said. “NAIA, I’d say, there’s a lot more teams, which I guess it’s more competition too just because you see more people everywhere you go.”

At the NCAA level, bowlers are not permitted to play tournaments outside of the play with their college team. At the NAIA level they can play other tournaments outside of team competition.

Junior Becca Wood and sophomore Lynae Soderholm are roommates of Hill, and Hill thinks they’ve both played well this season. Hill also commented on the great play of junior Allyson Ware.

“Allyson Ware has had a really good season and she’s actually our anchor bowler,” Hill said.

Bowling tournaments usually consist of two days of play. The first day usually consists of team games, when five bowlers play individual head-to-head matches with another team’s five players. They’ll play six team games.

On the second day, they usually play a style in which the whole team bowls in one game. The first person will bowl the first and sixth frames; the second person will bowl the second and seventh frames, etc.

The anchor bowler, which is Ware’s position, bowls the fifth and 10th frames. The 10th frame has the potential for three shots if three strikes are thrown. But if the bowler doesn’t strike or spare in the first two shots then she doesn’t get a third shot. The anchor position can make or break a game.

“They’re all important but she’s the one who has to make the shots in pressure situations, and I think she’s done a really good job with that,” Hill said. “So she’s had a really good season compared to last year.“

The team will play in three more tournaments this season, including sectionals. Sectionals are similar to a regional format for many other sports in which the teams are selected to play at different regional venues to determine who makes the national tournament.

“We draw for where we go,” Hill said. “So we’re going to go to Fort Worth this year or we’re going to go to Addison, Illinois.”

The teams bowl against several other teams and the top four are allowed into the national tournament. There are five other locations around the country, which means the national meet features the top 20 teams in the country.

The national meet is in Wichita this season, which would be conveniently close for Baker’s team.

“We were saying how convenient it would be for us to make it and we’d only have to go two hours away,” Hill said.

But until then, the bowling team hopes to stay strong through the remaining tournaments. The next will be on Valentine’s Day at the Hoosier Classic in Indianapolis, Indiana.