By Wesley Leffelman
Men’s Bowling, in the midst of a historical season, is returning to the National Tournament for the second time in program history. In 2013, the men were able to find great success placing 5th on the National stage and are now returning with a new goal in mind.
Coach Mark Van Wyk is confident in his squad, “Compared to our 2013 team this team is deeper 1-8, it doesn’t matter who we have in the lineup there is never a drop off in performance.” The level of depth and ability that this team has shown is a great benefit squad heading into Nationals and should bode well for the Statesmen.
The team appears to be in a pretty solid position to make a great run at the tournament based on the way that they have performed throughout this season. In a sport where the competition level is high at all times and most tournaments have teams from all divisions of college athletics, nothing is guaranteed.
Collegiate bowling season is a long and difficult grind. Beginning in September and running throughout the academic year, having a season good enough to make the National Tournament is a feat. However, plenty of hard work, combined with playing in the toughest sectional in the country has put the Statesmen in a great position to take the National Tournament by storm.
The work ethic of the team is obvious when you look at the success that they have had throughout the season and Van Wyk is incredibly proud of his guys heading into the tournament saying “They have worked their butts off in practice all year and for them to make Nationals couldn’t be any more fitting.”
Heading into the tournament the Statesmen are feeling good coming off of a very strong sectional performance where they bowled exactly to seed, placing fourth. In the latest ranking of the season the men came in ranked #16 in the nation, and this is right in line with the number of high-placing finishes the squad has earned this year.
The national tournament is what is called a Baker and luckily for the Statesmen they generally excel in that format, according to Coach Van Wyk. “It’s the hardest part of the tournament so bowling well in that gains you a lot of places in the standings. Baker is the sole format for sectionals and nationals so that is a big plus for us”.
When looking at all of the different factors it seems that our bowling team has overcome a tremendous amount to make it as far as they have and if they continue to bowl at such a high level they should have no problem finding success in the national spotlight. There are always a lot of variables that go into finding success at the highest level but the Statesmen have shown all of the traits necessary to do just that!