Bowling: Wright State heads to nationals for 3rd straight year

The Wright State Raiders ham it up after qualifying to the International Collegiate Championships for a third consecutive year. First row left to right: Alyssa Oster, Leslie Campbell, Colleen Hines. Second row left to right: Tori Pappas, Kira Lade, coach Jeff Fleck, Sarah Carpenter, Hannah Niekamp. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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The Wright State Raiders ham it up after qualifying to the International Collegiate Championships for a third consecutive year. First row left to right: Alyssa Oster, Leslie Campbell, Colleen Hines. Second row left to right: Tori Pappas, Kira Lade, coach Jeff Fleck, Sarah Carpenter, Hannah Niekamp. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Wright State women’s bowling team qualified for its third consecutive and seventh trip in the past nine years to the Intercollegiate Team Championships with a third-place finish at the ITC sectional qualifier in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The Raiders had neither depth nor experience, but they had confidence.

“I knew we had a chance and I thought we’d be in the hunt but, I have to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised,” Wright State coach Jeff Fleck said. “It was like they had all been there before. It really has become a tradition for us.”

The Raiders are young, without a senior in a lineup that includes three sophomores and a freshman. Factor in an injury to junior Alyssa Oster and the Wright State women faced a tough challenge in a competitive field that included Webber International and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — which finished first and second, respectively at the sectional.

“Their attitude, the camaraderie, the way they communicated — it couldn’t have been any better,” Fleck said of the Raiders. “They did their jobs and they stayed steady.”

Fleck shuffled the lineup several times during the two-day, 64-Baker game sectional qualifier. All seven bowlers competed and Fleck used three different anchor bowlers.

“It was a great team effort,” he said. “We had some experience, but they all looked like veterans.”

Unlike past years that Fleck described as nail-biters, the Raiders had some breathing room this year. Wright State finished the final round with a 166-pin advantage over fourth-place Notre Dame College.

“It was kind of nice. The final round felt like a victory lap,” he said.

As is often the case, Wright State was the only non-scholarship team from the sectional to advance to the national tournament.

“Some people might look at it like we’re a Cinderella story or a blue-collar team,” Fleck said. “We look at like we’re a solid bowling program where people come to win.”

The Raiders will take that winning attitude to the Collegiate Club Championship April 8-9 in Indianapolis and the Intercollegiate Team Championships April 19-22 in Baton Rouge.

“You don’t have a tradition without having the confidence that you can beat everyone else,” Fleck said.

Urbana rolls on: With a second-place finish at the Smyrna, Tennessee sectional qualifier, the Urbana Blue Knights earned their fourth consecutive trip to the Intercollegiate Team Championships. The Urbana men's team finished second to Calumet.

Solo success: While Haley Cummings will compete with her Lindenwood University squad at the ITC, the Wayne High School graduate also qualified as an individual. Cummings' fifth-place finish at the Intercollegiate Singles Sectional Qualifier in Addison, Illinois earned her a spot in the Intercollegiate Singles Championship.

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