The Intercollegiate Team Championships for bowling date back to 1975, and no team has burst onto the scene quite like Calumet College the past decade.
With the regular season concluded, Calumet College is on the precipice of extending a record for most consecutive appearances in the Sweet 16 to begin a program’s existence.
Every year that Calumet College has had a team, the previous 10 seasons, the team has been through sectionals and into the national event’s final 16, which is the cut after 80 teams make sectionals.
“What makes me most confident is that although we are a very young team with no seniors, we have five players that were there last year,” Calumet College coach Mike Kubacki said. “They weren’t all competing in biggest moments, but they were at least there to know what to expect.”
This weekend the Crimson Wave compete in the Smyrna, Tenn., Sectional, one of four in the nation, and while the streak is on the line, redemption is a motive for Mike Davidson.
The NAIA Bowler of the Year in 2016, Davidson, a junior from Versailles, Ohio, suffered a devastating blow when he popped a tendon and had bad tendinitis across his palm and in his right ring finger during singles competition at nationals last season.
The injury cost Davidson singles play glory and hindered the Wave in team competition, which always follows individual play at the national level.
He had to sit six months before he could bowl again. Then he had to change his grip, physically and mentally.
“The beginning of this season was tough,” Davidson said. “I was expecting to be where I was last year, but the injury just messed up my mental game. Once I came to the realization that my game was different, my season started looking up. Since then, I haven’t looked back.”
Davidson felt a pull and a pop when he was on the verge of making the televised portion of the national singles event. His hand swelled, he couldn’t make a fist, and he was out from a team with seven seniors, including five of the top eight.
His injury prompted Kubacki to petition the national board to split the singles event, which could see a bowler run up to 23 games in a day, into a two-day event. The motion passed.
“Obviously the team advancing to nationals is the most important part of this weekend,” Davidson said. “If I qualify (individually), that’s great. The focus is on the team because it’s most important.”
Davidson, who spent his summer nursing the injury, training with cardiovascular activities, and working in a pro shop in his rural hometown an hour north of Dayton, isn’t the only member of Calumet College’s top eight who isn’t from the Region.
In fact, of the eight men spending Thursday on an eight-hour drive to Tennessee to bowl, only one -- Highland grad Tyler Trombetta -- is from Northwest Indiana.
Clout at the national level attracts bowlers to Whiting from as far away as Oregon or Florida and many spaces in between. More than 200 colleges have a bowling program, but the Crimson Wave, who finished the season ranked No. 7 in the nation, can get keglers from around the nation.
Nicco Vicari of Florida leads a strong sophomore contingent, and Jeffrey Holden of Oregon has superstar talent, according to Kubacki.
“When he is on, he’s as good as anybody in the country,” Kubacki said.
Pumas star headed to indoor nationals: St. Joseph's College will send Phillip Thompson to the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which begin Friday in Birmingham, Ala.
The junior jumper enters the national meet ranked fifth nationally in Division II with a mark of 15.45 meters in his signature event, the triple jump. He qualified at Grand Valley State on Jan. 28.
The Thornridge grad and former state champion triple jumper from Dolton previously qualified for outdoor nationals in the same event and was a second team All-American.
"He's ready," Pumas coach Bill Massoels said in a release. "He was pushed out of making nationals last year by just a few spots, so I know he's hungry. I have no doubt that Phil will bring us back another All-American trophy."
PNW golfers continue upward swing: When the first-year Purdue Northwest women’s golf team travels to the Ave Maria (Fla.) Duel Invitational next week, confidence will be high throughout the budding program.
The time between the fall schedule and the spring events saw the Pride golfers improve vastly.
Not only did Lacrosse grad Lauren Bailey, a freshman, set a program record with the first sub-80 round (79) and the lowest two-round score (170) at the UPike Spring Jump Start last weekend in Kentucky, the team’s second day score of 356 also set a program record by 22 strokes.
Boone Grove grad Meaghan Spalla, another of the five freshmen on the team, also set a career best in Kentucky.
The lone sophomore on the current roster, Allison Banasiak, cut eight strokes off her score between the first and second rounds at the UPike event. Highland grad Jenna Gericke also set a career best Sunday.