The Baker Women’s bowling team wins Hoosier Classic and Conference Championship


Courtesy of Baker University Athletics

The Baker Women’s Bowling Team places first at the Hoosier Classic tournament Feb. 19-20. The team prepares for the NAIA National Championship March 24-26. “We are prepping to win,” Head Women’s Bowling Coach Cheryl Keslar exclaimed. “My life goal, at the moment, is to be the first sport at Baker to win the NAIA championship, barring wrestling and dance don’t do it before us.”

The Baker University women’s bowling team has continued their strong season with wins at the Hoosier Classic Feb. 19-20 and the Conference Championship Feb. 26-27. The team has looked strong all year and has taken two trophies home this season.

“We have been bowling good all year, but we just got to figure out how to finish games,” Cheryl Keslar, the head women’s bowling coach, said. “The team needed to be a little more self-centered and do their job to finish frames.”

Keslar said the team “had to be mentally tough” in these tournaments and the ones to come as there have been stumbling blocks along their journey. Trouble with a charter bus almost made it so Baker could not participate in the Hoosier Classic, the biggest tournament of the year.

During the Hoosier Classic, the bowlers came on strong qualifying in sixth with 5,745 points to start the tournament, according to a Baker Athletics article recapping the event. Performances from Junior Caitlin Lucas, Junior Emily Stamper and Senior Hailey Howard powered Baker to first place in the head-to-head matchups.

“Our team is different than the other teams. The team likes to be together and have a lot of trust in one another, that is why we are winning,” Keslar said.

The week after their win at the Hoosier Classic, the Baker women’s bowling team set their sights on the Heart Conference Championship tournament with a milestone on the line. That milestone was a three-peat of winning the Heart of America Conference, which they won by beating William Penn University in a best-of-7 series winning 4-3.

“We get in, do our job with respect to the other teams and we leave with a trophy,” Keslar said. “William Penn’s A.D. said Baker’s team played with class and respect while winning the tournament.”

While winning their third conference championship, Keslar explains that “this team’s word is blind trust,” and that the connection between coach and player has been integral for the strong season. The team has a saying according to Keslar that has also driven them, “we over me.”

With the winning streak coming right before the national tournament, the women’s bowling team could make history by winning the national title. Keslar, a decorated coach who just won her third coach of the year award, is feeling optimistic.

“We are prepping to win the NAIA championship,” Keslar exclaimed. “My life goal, at the moment, is to be the first sport at Baker to win the NAIA championship, barring wrestling and dance don’t do it before us.”

Lucas, who got first place in the Hoosier Classic over 478 other bowlers with an impressive score of 290 in game two of the tournament, added similar sentiments.

“We will continue doing what we are doing and have blind trust in one another to get the job done,” Lucas said, in regards to prepping for the NAIA championship.

The team enjoyed a well-deserved week off during spring break to relax as they prepare for the tournament. The NAIA Women’s Bowling Championship will be held from March 24 through 26. Keslar plans to drive the team to Detroit. Lucas thinks of traveling together as a team in a van as a superstition and a tradition for the team.

“We are a close team and this type of bonding helps us work on and off the lanes,” Junior Emily Stamper explained the tradition of the van ride. “We are a superstitious team so taking a van to nationals is one of our quirks and we enjoy spending time together.”

This week, the Baker women’s bowling team looks to prepare as they attempt to win the NAIA championship after back-to-back tournament wins at the Hoosier Classic and the Conference Championship.