The Forester bowling team wrapped up its regular season at the Hoosier Classes, the largest national tournament at the collegiate level, Feb. 15 in Indianapolis, Ind. The tournament pitted the university’s bowlers against teams from all levels – including NCAA Division I programs.
The men’s squad faced 76 contenders at the tournament and competed in nine team games in a long and grueling two-day tournament. Following Saturday’s performance on a challenging 44-foot flat oil pattern, the Foresters were seated in 57th place and needed a strong Sunday outing to increase their postseason chances.
“They really needed to put a good showing in because they were close to the cut,” coach Jim Bischoff said.
In the final and pinnacle game of the tournament, sophomore Joe Miller bowled strikes in each of the first nine frames to fuel his team. Ignited by Miller’s timely performance, HU shot up 10 spots to capture a 47th place finish.
“My goal going into each game is to bowl well and contribute as much as I possibly can to the team’s score,” Miller said. “I was relieved after the last game because it turned out that most of the team struggled that game, and my score was able to keep us from losing any spots in the standings.”
The Lady Foresters entered the tournament ranked 14th but struggled with the 42’ flat pattern on Saturday. Posting one of its lowest scoring outings of the season, the women’s team were in 37th place after the first day of the tournament.
HU had inconsistent scoring on Sunday, but the team bowled well enough to finish 32nd out of 67 teams.
“This wasn’t one of our best tournaments placing-wise,” sophomore Brooke Ewing said. “But it was also one of our toughest, and I thought we made improvements as the tournament wore on.”
Shelby New guided the Foresters with a 193.4 average over the nine games. She earned a 21st place ranking among 438 bowlers.
Despite a challenging weekend, the Lady Foresters are still optimistic entering the postseason.
“I don’t see this getting in the way of us competing in nationals and sectionals,” Ewing said. “I know when the time comes for that, we will rise to the occasion.”
Miller is also confident in his team’s readiness for sectionals.
“I think, as a team, we can really make some noise,” Miller said. “If we can get five of us to bowl extremely well during sectionals, I think we’d actually have a realistic shot at making nationals.”
With solid performances at sectionals, the squads could qualify for the NAIA Nationals, which only includes the top 20 teams in the nation. Both HU teams just barely missed the Nationals cut last season.
The USBC Sectionals will take place March 13-15 in Smyrna, Tenn. Bischoff calls it “a great draw” and says the team has faced many of the teams already in the season.
Each need will need to place in the top four at their sectional location in order to advance to the final round.