Women’s Bowling: Team rolls off to nationals

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By Justin St. Peter

“We really aren’t afraid of any of the bigger schools,” junior Katie Zwiefelhofer said.

The No. 7 ranked Warhawks’ women’s bowling team has every reason not to be afraid, as they have beaten every single team in the championship field. The ‘Hawks head to the NCAA Nationals on Tuesday to prepare for the Thursday match in Canton, Michigan. They are proud owners of a 66-34 season record.

“We have anywhere from three to six matches in one single day,” head coach Leann Eimermann said. “What we do is very hard to have a winning record, especially with all the teams that we have to compete against.”

This is the first time in school history that the women’s bowling team is headed to the NCAA tournament. The Hawks’ have the second hardest strength of schedule this year and are the only division three team in the field. In addition to that, there are multiple ‘Hawks up for All-American honors or honorable mentions at the Champions Dinner on Wednesday night.

“The season so far has been really amazing,” Zwiefelhofer said. “We have done the best we ever have. This is the best that the women’s program has ever done in all of bowling history.”

The only Division II team in the field is Central Missouri, which is ranked No. 1. The rest of the field is made up of Division I teams. Maryland Eastern Shore, ranked second, is the two-time defending champion. They are followed by Nebraska, Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Sam Houston State. The eighth seeded Fairleigh Dickinson rounds out the field of eight competing for the championship.

“All of the other teams that are at nationals have all been there before,” Eimermann said. “Actually, six of the eight teams are there every single year.”

In women’s bowling, there are approximately 70 teams competing in NCAA competitions. The number varies because some teams do not compete at the NCAA sanctioned competitions. There are three Division III teams, 12 Division II teams and the rest of the bowling teams are made up of Division I teams.

On Thursday, each bowler will bowl seven team games, which means each bowler bowls one game. The five games are added up to reseed the teams for Friday’s double elimination matches. They will be seeded like the NCAA tournament in best of seven matchups to advance.

When that is finished, the two teams remaining will advance to the televised finals matchup on ESPNU. The match will be shown at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 13th and tape delayed the next day on ESPN at 1 p.m.

“No one really has high expectations for us, which is awesome for us, because that will be less pressure for ourselves,” Eimermann said. “We are just going to go in there with a positive attitude, as well as a mentality that any team can win this, and that’s the nice thing about the bracket style.”

The ‘Hawks have also qualified for the United States Bowling Congress Team Championships (USBC) nationals for the fourth straight year. The USBC tournament features NCAA, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and club teams from around the country competing for the championship. That will take place in Lincoln, Nebraska April 18-20.

“For USBC, it’s pretty much the same thing, get into the top and work our way up to face more of the prestigious schools and get our name out there even more,” said Zwiefelhofer.

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