VERNON HILLS, Ill. – The 11th-ranked Forester women’s bowling team, represented by Shelby New, Ayla Yeiter, Emerald Leong, Brooke Ewing and Casandra Griffith, made a great run to leave their mark at the 2014 NAIA Invitational Team Championships this past weekend by finishing 7th.
Twenty of the top NAIA teams around the country converged on Brunswick Zone Hawthorne Lanes in Vernon Hills, IL Friday through Sunday to crown the 2014 National NAIA Invitational Champion. Competition got underway Friday morning, with all teams bowling 24 Baker games for qualifying. The 24 games were bowled in 6-4 game blocks on different pairs of lanes against a different opponent to establish seeding for a 20-team double elimination best of five game Baker bracket. The double elimination Baker matches started Saturday morning.
The Foresters got off to a great start on Friday, averaging a 196.7, to find themselves seeded 6th after their 24 Baker games. Their sixth seed matched them up against 6th-ranked Grandview, the 11th seed, Saturday morning where they split the first two games. The Vikings won the first game, 192-188. HU followed up with a 203-188 win and then tied the third game, 190-190, before losing the last two games, 211-146 and 226-174.
It sent Huntington into the contender’s bracket where another loss would eliminate them from the tournament. A determined Forester squad wasn’t about to let that happen as they outlasted 17th-ranked Campbellsville, seeded 14th, for a 3-1 win, 192-174, 220-215, 166-175, 193-167. With this win, HU went on to eliminate 17th-ranked, 13th-seeded Martin Methodist by sweeping the Red Hawks in three games, 154-125, 184-182, 161-151.
Coach Bischoff’s squad continued to roll, knocking off 14th-ranked Calumet Saint Joseph, seeded 10th, on the TV pair. HU jumped out to a 2-0 lead with wins of 197-166 and 202-179 before losing game three 235-181. Game four was a back-and-forth battle with the Foresters answering Calumet every frame but coming up short to send it the rubber match.
Great shots down the stretch in game five, including a strike by Ewing in the 6th frame, tough six and eight count spare conversions by Leong and Griffith in the 7th and 8th frames, a clutch strike by Yeiter in the 9th and ten pin spare and eight count by New in the 10th gave HU the one-pin win.
That emotional on-camera win set up the match against No. 1 and eventual tournament champion Webber International. Webber had dropped into the contender’s bracket after losing to St. Ambrose early in the morning. Since that loss, the Warriors averaged 250, which included a 299 game, through seven Baker games and two wins against tough Midland University and Grandview.
Comparatively, the Foresters averaged 194 against Webber, 195.2 against Calumet, 166.3 against Martin Methodist, 193.8 against Campbellsville, 181 against Grandview for a 187.1 average over 21 games.
The 6th-round matchup lived up to its hype with HU suffering a tough 3-2 loss to the top-ranked, defending champions Webber International in the final match on Saturday afternoon. The eventual champions, who had outscored not only all the women’s teams in Friday’s 24 Baker qualifying games also all the men’s teams, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with wins of 208-194 and 205-188.
HU bounced back to shock Webber with a 192-171 win to pull within a game at 2-1 and then used this momentum to steal game four, 235-181, to force a fifth and final game. The Foresters didn’t go down without a fight as they stayed even with WIU through the first half of the game before succumbing to the Warriors 195-161.
The loss knocked HU out of the tourney with a 3-2 record in match play on Saturday but Coach Bischoff couldn’t have been happier with their performance, “It was a great run and great bowling by a great group of young ladies. On Friday it was a high scoring pace and they kept up with the field. We win or lose as a team and on Saturday they never quit and they answered over and over again in match after match and shot after shot. It was great to watch and a great team effort all weekend.”
Bischoff went on to say, “I was asked a number of times this weekend where Huntington is and others told me they were asked ‘who’s Huntington?’” The ladies made a statement this weekend for HU bowling. I am very, very proud of them.”
The match against Calumet can be seen at:
Ladies come to pair to practice at 1:21 of video, practice starts 1:36, match starts 1:38. The TV coverage switches back and forth between the HU-Calumet match and the men’s Martin Methodist-Grandview match.
The complete winner’s and contender’s brackets can be seen at:
The qualifying scores from Friday can be seen at:
Webber, coming out of the contender’s bracket to defeat Robert Morris(Ill.) twice to claim their second straight NAIA National Invitation title. On the men’s side, Robert Morris (Ill.) defeated Midland for the title.