HIGHLAND — There’s no place like home.
Calumet College of St. Joseph hosts the NAIA Invitational Championship this season, with the qualifying-round opening festivities Friday at Plaza Lanes.
Both the men’s and women’s teams earned a bye for Saturday and Sunday’s match play bracket but the reaction couldn’t be more different.
The Crimson Wave women, who practice at Plaza, bowled maybe their best opening day this season.
“It was our intention to get lined up as best we could, hit the pocket as often as possible and get a bye for tomorrow morning,” CCSJ women’s coach Randy Vania said. “(The bye) just allows us to sleep a little longer, make sure we’re well-rested.”
The men’s team snuck into the final bye, finishing 12th. It was a disappointing start for a squad that came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation and fresh off a first-place finish in the USBC sectional tournament.
“We didn’t bowl well. We never found something, as a team, that we could consistently repeat which is kind of a clear indication,” coach Mike Kubacki said. “There’s executing shots but then there’s really seeing and feeling shots. We executed shots but because we didn’t see it and feel it, we weren’t able to stay with it all day.”
The men’s team bowled a 4,788, well behind co-leaders Webber International and Robert Morris at 5,457.
“I think the guys were very flat, not traveling out of town, the way it picks up your emotions when you go out of town together,” Kubacki said. “They didn’t get that and they were very flat. You could see it. The energy level wasn’t there.”
A 239 in the 23rd of 24 games secured the fourth best qualifying round for the Wave women. The team finished with a total pinfall of 4,748.
Indiana Tech posted the best women’s score at 4,781.
“I’m extremely happy with the way we bowled today,” senior Brianna Ferro said. “This last tournament, we all came out with a bang and it was amazing. This is the best team I’ve bowled with in my life.”
This is the final tournament of the season for the women’s team after failing to qualify for the USBC team championship.
“It’s nice to have it here. It’s the first time we’ve hosted,” Porsche Chartrand said. “People have to come to our tournament at our alley.”
Some of the locals on the Calumet College roster were particularly appreciative of the short drive.
“I feel like when you’re at home, you’re in your own environment,” Gary native and Wirt Emerson graduate Carla Washington said. “I don’t know about anyone else, but I had an amazing night of sleep.”
Candice Tovo, of Chesterton, grew up bumper bowling at Plaza Lanes.
“From the time I started bowling, I bowled here,” she said. “That energy that we have, our family and our friends that have known us since we were all little, behind us and supporting us. I think that helped.”
The first of six rounds of match play for men and women begins at 8 a.m. Saturday.