It may have just been a coincidence that the state’s most successful women’s college NCAA bowling program was the opponent for the state’s newest NCAA team, the Tulane Green Wave, on Saturday, but the dynamics of the match were not hard to get a grasp on.
Tulane, which joins Southern, Grambling and Louisiana Tech as the fourth state school to begin an NCAA-sponsored women’s bowling program, is the 35th school in the country to put a team under NCAA rules and sponsorship. Southern is a multi-time SWAC champion that has made it to the final NCAA Tournament.
Tulane hopes that its program can follow in the footsteps of another major private university, Vanderbilt.
It wasn’t that long ago that a first-year Vanderbilt program was in Baton Rouge with lots of scholarship money for an NCAA program, but a team picked off the campus that really wasn’t very good. But at this tournament were all the best small-school East Coast bowling programs, and I told a member of the Vanderbilt sports information staff soon afterward that their program would quickly blossom, because all those bowlers know now Vandy has a bowling program and needs bowlers.
Two years later, Vandy won the national championship and is still a tournament participant almost every year.
Tulane coach Hayley Beavis is in a similar situation. She had to piece a squad together, but has a couple of nice bowlers who will be very useful as her program builds. Unlike Vanderbilt, the program is not fully scholarship funded, but Tulane will have some aid money available next season. That will be the start, and with work and department support Tulane could start challenging Vandy for their spot in the NCAA tournament.
Sarah Knapp, in the five-player team event, rolled a 592 and averaged 192. Jessica Cwik averaged 183 for the Green Wave, but Southern’s very deep roster was a little too much, winning the three-game total, 2,734-2,364.
In the five-game Baker format matches, the teams tied 2.5-2.5 in wins and losses, but again Southern had the better pin count, 903-849.
“It’s not easy coming out for the first time not knowing what to expect,” Beavis said. “I’m sure nerves played a little in part of the first game, but as the games went on, the girls got better and better. It is a good sign.”
Southern was led by Kate McConnell, who averaged 193; Shannon Pearson, 192 average; and Tatianna Francis, with a 181 average.
One of the great things about the Green Wave program is their venue, the new Rock ‘N’ Bowl location in New Orleans. Now that venue could turn out to be a very interesting home lane advantage in future years.
There are a couple of little things that the Wave needs to iron out before hosting big tournaments, but those should be easy to figure out. For owner John Blancher and the folks at Rock ‘N’ Bowl, which is certainly more concerned with things other than competitive bowling as their main source of revenue, they should be commended for their part in Tulane’s bowling future.
We’ll be keeping a closer eye on our college teams as we get into the new year.
I received my team reservation this past week for the USBC Open in Baton Rouge, so stay clear of the River Center next July 1.
Ricky Achord will be visiting the three centers and talking with league members in the days and weeks ahead to make sure as many locals as possible have the chance to bowl in what in our case is a twice-in-a-lifetime hosting situation for Baton Rouge.
The tournament begins in exactly four months, Feb. 11, but more importantly, the Dec. 15 entry deadline is quickly approaching.
Dunaway Honor Roll notes
Brian Yoches led a big scoring session with an 818 series that included a 300 game, while Mary Mansur led the women with a 737 that included a 278 game.
Ralph McNemar topped 700 with a 723 in the senior leagues, while Justin Bui had 715 and Christian Vicknair had 708 in the youth leagues.
Now how about the Team Slumber Parties in the Coke Classic league at All-Star, which had a clean 1,246 scratch series in the third game of league. The term “clean” means no opens by the five bowlers in the game. Impressive.
Matthew Sharper was almost perfect on a 299 game and 774 series, while Barbara Nickes picked up the 6-7-10 and Alton Moore the 4-10 split. Senior bowlers Sheila Barton, Jerry Wagener and Cheryl Shuffield bowled 50 pins over average.
Cameron Hariford’s 201 was a first 200, while Averi Laughlin was over 500 with 505. Marie Jarreau broke 200 with 219.
Matt Smith’s 631 was a first 600, and senior bowler Vernon Landry had 11 strikes in a 297 game.
We’ll preview’s SASBA’s return to Baton Rouge when we join you again on Oct. 25. Until then, good luck and good bowling.