by Marlin Copeland
The Jennies bowling team earned the fifth at-large selection to this year’s NCAA Bowling Championships at Tropicana Lanes in St. Louis. Competition gets underway today and runs through Saturday.
“We feel really fortunate to be in this group again, and the ladies are really excited,” said head coach Ron Holmes.
The eight-team field, by seeding order, is Nebraska, Fairleigh Dickinson, Arkansas State, Vanderbilt, Central Missouri, defending champion Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The Jennies are 83-38 this season and have been ranked in the top 10 in every National TenPin Coaches Association poll this year. With their selection, the Jennies along with Nebraska are the only two teams that have been selected for every NCAA Championship since they began in 2004.
“I’d like to think it’s all me, but I know the ladies put in a lot of hard work, and it’s a different formula each year,” Holmes said.
The St. Louis Sports Commission has teamed up with the University of Central Missouri to host the NCAA Bowling Championship in the Gateway City.
Holmes said he feels this poses some advantages for the bowling team.
“I think the biggest thing is for us having this (championship) close for alumni and campus to get to,” Holmes said.
The team is hoping not to end a good season on a disappointing note.
“We always go there with the hope of winning and the expectation to play well,” Holmes said. “If we don’t do that, it would be a disappointment to the team.”
Team chemistry has been the key to the Jennies success so far this season.
“This group has a good mix of upperclassmen and freshmen,” Holmes said. “They have done a nice job working together and develop their different communication skills.”
Holmes also said the team came together during an absence of former starter Mary Wells.
“One of my starters left due to personal issues, and she was a key part of the team because she played a lot,” Holmes said. “It took us some time to regroup, but I think it shows that this group can handle some adversity.”
The Jennies last saw action at the Vanderbilt Music City Classic March 6-8, where they finished in third place behind Nebraska and the host school Vanderbilt. UCM finished with 5,211 total pins, just 99 pins behind Nebraska.
The championship final will air on ESPNU at 7 p.m. Saturday.