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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Women’s bowling wins 11th national title, reflects on season

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(Photo courtesy of Wichita State Athletics)

Wichita State women’s bowling exited the intercollegiate level with a televised final win at the Intercollegiate Team Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Last week, the team added its 11th national title to its collection before transitioning to the NCAA later this year.

Wichita State won four straight matches before facing off against Jacksonville State in the final round. The Jacksonville State Gamecocks won the NCAA championship a week before the matchup.

Wichita State did not disappoint, winning its first two games in a best-of-five series. Jacksonville State fought back, winning the next two matches to tie the series, 2-2. 

The decisive fifth match was a walk in the park for the Shockers, who made nine straight strikes to lift the Helmer Cup and win its 11th national title, 264-199.

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Head coach Holly Harris said despite not having any children of her own, she felt like a “proud mom” to the team.

“They just worked so hard and to see them be rewarded was really cool and gratifying,” Harris said. “We went to tournaments, and they won one of them in kind of a pretty, like, back and forth way and to watch them just snowball from that to the national tournament was just special.”

Despite having a great spring season, Harris said she internally questioned whether the group would win a national title. 

“I would say the first month of team practice, if you would have asked me if we were going to win, there would have been a lot of hesitation in my answer,” Harris said. 

In December 2023, women’s bowling won the Las Vegas Invitational. Harris said she saw a huge confidence shift with the win as the team progressively improved. 

“It doesn’t matter if we’re down in a match or up in a match, they bought into the idea of just being present and just focusing on the next good shot,” Harris said. 

Senior bowler Mary Orf said the team said the team did not click at the beginning of the season, but as the year progressed they got to show out on and off the lanes. 

“I think … the more we got to know each other and got to be like goofy around each other and the more we got to hang out — it’s just that that’s really what brought us together,” Orf said. “(It) didn’t really fall on one person; we all just did it together.”

During the tournament, Orf said the team primarily focused on visualizing a victory. She said through visualizing, she was able to focus on the glory of a win and it ultimately booster her confidence.

Orf was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament, something she said she was not expecting. 

“I thought it was a surprise,” Orf said. “I didn’t really care what I did, as long as we did it together.” 

Harris said Orf’s experience of playing in a national tournament before has only let her grow and know what works for her. 

A standout, freshman Sarah Duque won the individual national championship. Less than 90 minutes after winning, Duque had to make a shift and focus on the team match.

“That’s really hard for anybody to be on that sort of cloud nine and just have to boom switch it over to a new competition,” Harris said.

Harris said while the transition to the NCAA is a “really cool,” the players did not think of the tournament as their last in intercollegiate. 

“It’s really just been the norm for us for so many years,” Harris said. “We’ve been to that national tournament 49 times.” 

Harris said the win gave the team more confidence as they prepare to transition to the NCAA on July 1.

“We’re not just a club team joining an NCAA program,” Harris said. “We’re an elite-level team, and we’re here to compete.”

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About the Contributor
Melanie Rivera-Cortez
Melanie Rivera-Cortez, Sports Editor

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