Freshman bowler builds off tryout experience to motivate Shockers

Grant Cohen

Freshman bowler Enzo Hernandez was recruited by Wichita State to be apart of a team that won the 2015 Intercollegiate National Championship. However, his journey onto the Wichita State roster was unlike any of the other freshmen. 

Being from Manila, Philippines, head coach Gordon Vadakin had heard about Hernandez, but did not have the chance to see him play very much. Vadakin requested he attend the Wichita State open tryout, not giving Hernandez any guarantee of obtaining a roster spot. 

“Enzo had a distinguished youth career, but we didn’t know as much about him since he was in the Philippines,” Vadakin said. 

During the tryout held from Aug. 27 through Sept. 11, 2015, Hernandez and 29 other men went through a series of on-lane portions and a physical skills test. With the lane conditions being more difficult, the bowlers were tested on how many strikes they could obtain on first ball attempts, with Hernandez ranking third in the men, bowling 122 strikes on 366 first ball attempts.

Competing in nine games, the three-time Youth Bowler of the Year award-winner managed to knock down 5,898 pins, and had an average of 178.7. 

In the physical portion, Hernandez was tested on how many push-ups and sit-ups he could do in a two-minute window, in which he completed 49 push-ups and 50 sit-ups. The WSU coaching staff then took a timed two-mile run, which Hernandez completed his run in 21 minutes and 38 seconds. 

The skills test composed of the athlete’s ability to knock down single-pin spares, along with testing the bowler’s ability to hit an inside and outside angle/line. 

Hernandez managed to score 12 out of 32 points in the skills test, hitting a perfect four 10 pins in four attempts. 

“I was excited to tryout for the team and meet the coaches and players,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t really that bad. It was kind of awkward at first, but once I settled down, it was really fun overall.”

Confident that his performance was enough to make the team, the 2014 Philippine International Open Youth Champion was ecstatic when he found out that he was an official member of the WSU bowling team. 

“I felt like I had earned my spot on the team, and that was huge for my confidence level,” Hernandez said. “I was ready to contribute to the team and see what we could do this year.”

Hernandez made an impact right away on the 2016 team’s journey to the National Championship, appearing in 12 matches and having an average score of 176.9. 

“Seeing him go through that tryout and eventually making the team, I have a lot of respect for Enzo,” Freshman Brandon Biondo said. “It is probably the toughest tryouts in nation.” 

With a plan to graduate from WSU in spring 2019, Hernandez plans to keep improving on his game to help continue the Shockers’ success while obtaining a degree in business. 

While WSU is looking ahead to this week’s National Championship, they also look at what he will bring to the table in the following years. 

“There’s things to work on, but to his credit he’s worked on them,” Vadakin said. “We are pretty excited about Enzo Hernandez. We think he is potentially a terrific player who could help us down the road.”