WSU Bowling looks to defend National Championship

Last season, Wichita State’s bowling program collected two national championship victories in both the men’s and women’s division. This year, the Shockers are looking to repeat history.

WSU houses the most accomplished collegiate bowling program in the nation with 22 men’s and women’s national championships. They are also the only team in history of the International Bowling Media Association to rank in the top-10 of every poll since its inception.

The women’s team has been top-tier in the nation for over four decades. The team has won ten national titles with the latest in May 2021, under the direction of Holly Harris. Heading into this season, Harris and her bowlers are staying calm and collected to finish off their season.

“We throw really good shots over our targets and just really try to focus on trying to stay in control,” Harris said. “Our process and preparation to get there is really good. We’ve talked a lot about how fun the tournament is and how we play so much better when we’re having a good time, so we’re really putting the focus on just us doing our thing and having a good time and the rest will take care of itself.”

On the men’s side, they hold the history as the first ever “three-peat” team winning back-to-back national championships from 1993-1995 and again in 2008-2010. The team has ranked No. 1 41 times out of 107. No other men’s team has ranked more than 13. This season, they hope to build their winning streak.

“We had a good season this year,” Men’s Head Bowling Coach Rick Steelsmith said. “They’ve been bowling really well here towards the end of the season.”

Both the men’s and women’s team had returning players who played as major assets to the teams.

“They can share that with the players that are new,” Steelsmith said. “Once you experience that feeling you want to experience it again. They’re pretty motivated, pretty driven and they’re really anxious to get going.”

The women’s team has four returning players, who have bonded with the five new players sharing their experience at the tournament and holding the trophy.

“I think it kind of gives them the confidence that we did it before, so we can do it again,” Harris said. “Last year, not that we’re sitting and dwelling on that, but it brings kind of the good stuff and the good energy.”

Due to COVID protocols, the teams were forced to cancel their fall 2020 schedule, where they compete in the majority of their tournaments. When the tournaments returned in the spring of 2021, parents and spectators were not allowed to attend. With both teams running in full operation, they were able to compete in all of the tournaments and meets this season. As they head to the National Championships, spectators are welcomed to cheer on their Shockers.

“It’s always more energetic when you have a crowd back there,” Steelsmith said. “It was definitely a little shorter window last year to prepare everything and get ready, so [this season is] kind of more just a normal feeling of having enough tournaments to have us settle in a little bit and get the equipment that we’re looking to use at nationals.”

The Shockers will defend their title, starting next Wednesday at the Intercollegiate Team Championships in Addison, Illinois.