HIGHLAND — It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Calumet College of St. Joseph hosts the NAIA Invitational Championships this weekend at Plaza Lanes in Highland. The Crimson Wave men came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the country and coming directly from a first-place finish in the Intercollegiate Team Sectionals.
But CCSJ bowed out early Saturday, losing the first two rounds of match play.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” coach Mike Kubacki said. “We’ve got to cut down on the open (frames). Opens are like turnovers in basketball. They kill you.”
The Crimson Wave took both opponents five game in the best-of-five series. And both St. Ambrose and Hastings College posted games better than 250 in the fifth game.
Kubacki said there was no solace in seeing the Hastings faithful’s excitement in beating a programs of Calumet College’s caliber. The Broncos fans near the lanes could be heard talking about a “Cinderella story” and discussing calling CCSJ “a really, really good team.”
“Both of these losses hurt big because we were up 2-1 in both matches,” Kubacki said. “It’s pretty hard to beat a 250 in game five. We’re not sure what happened after game three in both matches because both game threes we shot 230s. Games four and five we just weren’t able to make enough good shots.”
The Crimson Wave women had an opposite experience.
After losing the opening round 3-1 to Webber International, CCSJ rattled off wins over Marian and Aquinas College.
“I’m happy with how we bowled our two middles sets (against Marian and Aquinas),” coach Randy Vania said. “We would’ve liked to have gone farther, but we definitely got some positives out of today.”
St. Ambrose stopped the Wave just short of making the Sunday field. The Fighting Bees won a 3-0 match.
“It’s always a tough loss when you don’t bowl well and we can bowl better,” Vania said. “You walk away thinking ‘We’re better than that.’”
The women bowled well during qualifying, finishing fourth and earning a bye.
“Overall, we made it to the last match (Saturday),” Vania said. “Of course we would’ve loved to make it to tomorrow but after losing this morning (to Webber) and not bowling well this morning, we bowled well enough to probably beat anybody in those two middle matches. I’m happy with that.”
The men still have the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships in Lincoln, Neb. on April 16 to 21. They’ll need to figure out their issues with match play before that.
“We know this is our challenge. We know that we have to get better in this environment,” Kubacki said. “It’s a really unique situation that we’ve been as good as we’ve been all season long in pinfall but seem to struggle in the match play format. Sometimes you’ve just got to catch a break at the right time.”
Junior Tyler James and junior Jeffrey Holden also qualified for the national singles championships next month.
“We’re going to lick our wounds and figure it out and get ready for Nebraska,” Kubacki said.