Shocker bowling advances to national competition

Sports Editor

After taking the crown at the Intercollegiate Team Championships (ITC) Sectional Qualifier in Fort Worth, Texas, a month ago, Wichita State Shocker men’s and women’s bowling teams have earned a spot to compete for the national championship in Reno, Nev., starting Wednesday.

The teams’ successes have been a steady flow through the entire regular season.

Both teams face other collegiate teams they have not met with this season.

Senior Allie Ijams said she feels if the team remains focused, it will not be any different than what both teams have already seen.

“This tournament, even though the caliber is higher, it is no different than anything else that we have ever done,” Ijams said. “It’s still the same process, we’re still the same girls, and we’re still going to work like the same great team.”

The Shocker women’s bowling team placed first in all but two tournaments.

With a solid streak of impressive wins, the team has earned the No. 1 spot in national polls, including the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches’ Association, International Bowling Media Association and College Bowling Power Rankings.

“The ladies have been dominant all year,” head coach Gordon Vadakin said. “They just have been really strong, and they haven’t missed a beat. They are playing as well as they have all year.”

Vadakin said he attributes their success to the women’s depth of experience and their hunger to prove they are the best.

“It’s a very experienced group,” Vadakin said. “Four seniors in this group that have been there. Starting off as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, they have been together the entire time. We’re a deep, experienced, hungry group on the women’s side. They want this bad.”

The men’s team has earned the No. 5 spot in the International Bowling Media Association poll and the No. 6 position in the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches’ Association and College Bowling Power Rankings poll.

But Vadakin said the ranking is an understatement to what the team is capable of and how well they can play together.

“It doesn’t happen every year, but it is happening this year,” Vadakin said.

“On the men’s team, we have four or five guys, easily, maybe more, that are playing the best that they have played all year. That’s a good sign.

“The team is ranked sixth nationally on the guys’ side — that’s a little deceiving, because I think we’re playing as good as anybody is right now.”

While the women’s and men’s teams are competing for the championship title, seven Shocker bowlers, four women and three men, will compete at the individual level in hopes of earning a championship title with their own name on it.

Intercollegiate Singles Championship qualifiers include Ijams, junior Heather Melvin, senior Kelsey Muther, senior Tannya Roumimper, senior Devin Bidwell, junior Francois Lavoie and sophomore Zach Rhoades.

Being just a sophomore on the team, Rhoades said he is looking forward to competing for an individual title, but plans to remain focused on the task at hand.

“For individuals, I just want to make sure that I stay within myself and not let too many thoughts get into my head and just throw the ball good,” Rhoades said.

The bowlers who qualify for individual competition left for Nevada over the weekend, while the rest of the team will join them Tuesday and begin the tournament on Wednesday. 

With a large task at hand and a championship on the line, Vadakin said the team is more than prepared for the tournament and is ready to finish strong.

“That’s the goal, is beat the lane condition,” Vadakin said, “stay up with it and we will be fine.”