By Kyle Wills
Youngstown State University women’s bowling team competed in the Bearcat Hammer Open this past weekend in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The women’s impressive performances in the first two days gave the Penguins an opportunity to win the tournament on the final day, but ultimately finished as the runner-up.
The bowling team became the first YSU team to compete since collegiate sports were canceled in March. Head coach Doug Kuberski said he is excited to finally be able to get their season started.
“It feels great. We’re really honored to be the first team at YSU to get back and compete. We just had a lot of fun out there,” he said. “It felt normal again to get out there with the ladies and coaches and with our bowling family. It felt really great and we’re really grateful to be able to [compete].”
On day one of the Bearcat Hammer Open, the women went 3-2 in head-to-head Baker matches. They also posted the second-highest Baker game in program history with a score of 265 with the lineup of Madyson Marx, Alexis Sullivan, Kirsten Moore, Emma Dockery and Emma Wrenn.
After beating Valparaiso 809-753 in their first match, the Penguins improved in each of their next three matches as they settled their lineup. YSU lost 1,030-909 to No. 7 Stephen F. Austin and fell 963-914 to No. 1 McKendree. The Penguins then had a 1,066-897 victory over Lewis and in their final match were victorious 833-818 over Upper Iowa.
On day two of the tournament, the women again went 3-2 in their traditional matches. The Penguins lost their opening match 875-837 to Drury, but they won their next three matches.
They had a 938-923 win over No. 18 Maryville where Kirsten Moore and Emma Dockery both doubled in the 10th frame. YSU then topped Upper Iowa 987-799 behind three 200 games, and the Penguins beat Lewis 975-860 to improve to 3-1. Sarah Florence delivered the highest game of the day by a Penguin with a 233 versus the Flyers. Youngstown State threatened No. 1 McKendree in the 10th frame in the final match of the day, but ultimately lost 980-959.
On the final day, the bowling team secured a top-four seed for bracket play when they beat Maryville 859-850 in the final match of qualifying. They then upset top-ranked McKendree and made a push in the final game of the championship match before settling for a second place finish by two pins.
The Penguins finished the weekend with an 8-5 overall record in head-to-head matches, and they were 3-4 against ranked teams. This performance did not come as a surprise for Kuberski.
“We really felt confident and we knew we were going to be there in the end with a chance to win,” he said. “Obviously, our focus was on the process and my goal was to get the ladies some experience and in pressure situations. It gets the chemistry tested out in competition and we’ve been working on it a lot in practice, obviously with some team bonding but it’s always different when the lights are on.”
YSU will continue on with their season next weekend at the Crusader Classic Oct. 30-Nov. 1. in Merrillville, Indiana.