Last season, both the men’s and women’s bowling teams came close to making the NAIA national tournament final cut which eliminates all but the top 20 teams in the nation.
Both teams kick off a season Sept. 27 that they hope will end at the national tournament exactly six months later.
Head coach Jim Bischoff said the teams set high standards for themselves this year.
“The expectation is that they’ll make it this year,” he said.
Both teams began practicing during the second week of classes to prepare for the program’s third season. The teams face several NCAA Division I opponents, like Ball State and Wichita State, coupled with a fair amount of traveling.
Bischoff said the teams travel to places such as Atlanta, Ga. and Milwaukee, Wisc. to compete in highly-respected tournaments that award more points for HU’s national ranking.
The individual teams’ training aims to prepare them for long two-day tournaments in which members typically bowl three to four individual games on Saturday. Meanwhile on Sunday, each whole team will join together to split frames, playing up to 20 games.
Six returning bowlers lead the women’s team,while five freshmen round out the roster.
Junior Shelby New said while the freshmen may be nervous at first, she anticipates the upperclassmen will reach out to help them adjust.
“Yes, we’re a team, but we’re mainly a family,” New said. “With the incoming freshmen, we have a good shot of making it further than we did last year.”
The men’s team remains nearly the same from the previous season, aside from the addition of two transfers, Colin Madden and Jake Neely. The Foresters look to build on their momentum and chemistry from last season, which was aided by a strong class of freshmen who now hold eight spots on the roster as sophomores.
“This season, I think we’re going to come back really strong,” senior Tyler Neff said. “The guys have a lot of experience now. I think we have a really good chance of making it to Nationals.”
The Foresters don’t host any home tournaments due to the size of their practice facility, Oak Lanes, located in Huntington. Many wish their fellow students could experience the environment of tournaments which can include up to 80 lanes and seven bowling balls per person.
“I wish there was a way to transport people, just to have them witness the atmosphere, the energy, and the heart we all give,” New said. “If they could see [it], they’d see why we love it so much.”