Being the “best blue collar team in the country” is a point of pride for the Wright State Raiders.
The Wright State women’s team is currently the top-ranked club bowling team in the country while the men are No. 3. Club bowling teams are programs that are not affiliated the NCAA, NAIA or NJCAA and don’t offer athletic scholarships. But, unlike, many other collegiate sports, club bowling teams compete regularly against NCAA teams and other scholarship programs.
“Our kids pay dues, they have skin in the game, this is their program,” Raiders coach Jeff Fleck said. “We absolutely have to fight harder, we’re that blue collar team.
“And when a club team makes nationals, it’s a big deal.”
The Raiders know first hand what it takes to qualify to nationals as the women have competed at the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships seven times since 2009 and the men twice since 2011.
“There are definitely teams that don’t like losing to a club team,” Fleck said. “Years ago, I think it was a little intimidating going up against some of those programs but, now, we thrive on it.”
The homegrown Raiders – with only one bowler on either the men’s or women’s roster from outside of Ohio – relish their underdog status. And success has become the rule, not the exception, for the Wright State bowling program. The women have already earned seven tournament titles during the 2018-19 season and the men have won two tournaments.
“Our women have had a lot of success the past few seasons and our men’s team is as strong as we have been in the past five or six years,” Fleck said.
The club rankings utilize point totals from the Collegbowling.com national power ranking, an objective point system for ranking all schools with college bowling teams based on regular season tournament performances. The Wright State women are currently No. 5 in the Top 100 and are the highest ranked club team. The University of Pikeville, Midland, Wichita State and Robert Morris universities are currently the top four-ranked teams, respectively. The only other club team in the top 10 is Bowling Green State University at No. 10.
In addition to participating in the ITC national tournament, the top club teams are also eligible to compete in the Collegiate Club Championship as the top 16 women’s teams and top 24 men’s teams compete annually. The Wright State women won the club title in 2015 and the men were runners-up last year.
The Raiders are on the road this weekend at the Kegel Midwest Collegiate Classic, a Tier 1 event, in Addison, Illinois.