Members of the Raiders are, front (left): seniors Tori Pappas, Sarah Carpenter and Kira Lade. Back (left): head coach Jeff Fleck, freshman Briann McKnight, sophomores Ashlynn Stollings and Jessica Pitt, freshmen Madison Stiffler and Kara Buckner, and assistant coach Colleen Hines. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Raiders women’s bowling team wins club championship

The Raiders saved their best for last.

The Wright State University women’s bowling team started the season strong – winning six of seven tournaments – but the wins became more difficult to come by late in the season. The Raiders’ frustration only grew after falling short of qualifying to the Intercollegiate Team Championships.

“It was like we lost our mojo,” said Wright State coach Jeff Fleck.

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Despite the late-season slump, the Raiders were the top seed heading into the Collegiate Club Championships. Teams qualify for the tournament based on their ranking in the CollegeBowling.com Power Rankings, with the top 24 men’s and top 16 women’s teams qualifying.

“We were the favorites – again – but I told them no one is going to hand it to us,” Fleck said. “We needed to go out and bowl like the champions we know we are.”

The Wright State women did just that. The Raiders topped the field in pool play and went through the double-elimination winner’s bracket undefeated.

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“Our energy was a lot better and everyone seemed to be on the same page,” senior Tori Pappas said.

The Raiders translated their frustration into motivation.

“I feel like not qualifying to ITC pushed us to do better at this tournament,” said Pappas.

After being the top seed the past three years, the Raiders finally came out on top. After dropping the first match to contenders bracket winner West Texas A&M, Wright State bounced back, sweeping West Texas A&M 3-0 in the championship match to take home the women’s Collegiate Club Championship at All Star Bowl in Indianapolis last weekend.

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“We were definitely grinding it out,” senior Sarah Carpenter said. “But, we knew that if we didn’t strike, a 9-spare was better than a 9-open so we fought for it.”

Open frames were few and far between for the Raiders, who bowled 30 frames without an open in the finals.

“It was amazing to finish out my college bowling career on this note,” senior Kira Lade said. “I’m a little sad that it’s over, but to finish this way is awesome.”

One night earlier, Fleck was recognized as the Club Team Bowling Coaches Association (CTBCA) Women’s Club Coach of the Year for a fifth consecutive season.

“It’s definitely an honor, but I told them, ‘I’m sick and tired of winning the coach of the year and not winning the tournament,’ I felt like I didn’t earn it,” Fleck said. “This year, we earned it.”

Fleck wasn’t the only one who earned individual accolades. Pappas was named CTBCA Player of the Year and Tournament MVP for a second consecutive year. Freshman Madison Stiffler was the 2019 CTBCA Rookie of the Year and named to the All-Tournament First Team. Sophomore Jessica Pitt was named to the CTBCA Second Team.

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