By John Ostapowicz
To kick off the eighth season in program history, the sixth-ranked Youngstown State University bowling team hit the lanes for the yearly Penguin Classic from Oct. 13 through Oct. 15.
With the team’s departure from the Southland Bowling League to join Conference USA to start the 2023-24 season, it faces new opponents as well as eight former teams from the previous conference.
Over the three-day tournament, the Penguins welcomed 12 universities to the home lanes at Holiday Bowl in Struthers.
The Penguins started out Day One undefeated after they posted the second-best Baker set in program history.
As a team, it averaged a score of 204.2 a game and 1,021 pins per set in Baker play. The combined total of 5,105 total pin fall was the second-highest in the lanes.
The five-bowler lineup of graduate student Megan Gram, juniors Lyndsay Ennis and Madison Doseck and seniors Kirsten Moore and Madyson Marx all combined for 1,170 total pins against Wright State University.
The feat earned the lineup its second-highest Baker set in school history. With a score of 278 in game two, the Penguins tied for the fourth-best Baker game to add another notch to the record book.
Despite a pivotal first day, the Penguins sat 70 pins behind first place Arkansas State University.
Youngstown State followed up its dominant performance on Day Two with three Baker pinfall matches to remain in contention for the qualifying round and remained in second place by one pin.
The accolades for the team continued as Moore was the third Penguin in program history to win tournament MVP honors as the highest individual finisher. Through two days, Moore bowled a five-game set of 1,099 and helped the team combine for 4,997 total pins.
In response to earning tournament MVP, Moore credited the team and head coach Doug Kuberski for contributing to her break-out performance.
“It was a very big accomplishment for me. I’ve put in a lot of work up to this point in the season to try and accomplish something like that,” Moore said.
Moore’s impressive day continued as she averaged 241.7 pins over three games and bowled above 185 through five games.
With the momentum from the previous days, Youngstown State set its sights on the top spot in the championship round but fell short to Arkansas State.
The Red Wolves swept the Penguins in a best-of-seven Baker match, 4-0, to claim the tournament victory for the second time in Arkansas’ program history.
For YSU, it claims its third-straight runner up finish at the Penguin Classic since 2021.
Although it was the first tournament of the season, Kuberski felt that the team “checked all the right boxes” heading into a busy schedule.
“I feel really good about where we are at as a team heading forward, we are really deep and we are really excited about the season,” Kuberski said. “Overall, great start to our season.”
The bowling team is back in action Oct. 27 through Oct. 29 at the Sunshine State Classic hosted by Sacred Heart University in Orlando, Florida.