Hundreds of the best collegiate bowlers in the country will descend upon Northwest Indiana this weekend.
Cal College of St. Joseph, in conjunction with the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, is hosting the NAIA Men’s and Women’s Invitational Championship at Plaza Lanes in Highland from Friday through Sunday.
Twenty men’s and 20 women’s teams will play on Friday in 24 baker matches that will determine seeding for match play which will begin on Saturday with the finals playing out on Sunday.
Both the Cal College men’s and women’s teams will compete in their respective tournaments this weekend with the men entering as the top ranked team in the country according to CollegeBowling.com.
“It’s very exciting and a little nerve-wracking,” Cal College men’s coach Mike Kubacki said. “I’m the coach and also the president of the association. It’s going to be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. We’re excited.”
The men’s team has been dominant throughout the season, winning five tournaments, including the USBC Intercollegiate Sectionals earlier this month in Fairview Heights, Ill. Junior Tyler James won the individual portion of the tournament as the Crimson Wave qualified for the USBC National Championships which will be held in Lincoln, Neb. next month.
“We’ve had a very good season,” Kubacki said. “We’re the only school to win two Tier-1 events. The motivation is there and they know they’ve performed well this season except for in the match play style. They know we have to be better in that. This tournament should be a unique experience and a great challenge.”
The women’s team, led by coach Randy Vania, enter the tournament looking to recapture the magic they displayed in Las Vegas last December when the Wave finished second in the Glenn Carlson Las Vegas Invitational. Cal College upset Midland and top-seeded Wichita State before falling to St. Francis in the title match.
“They’ve beat some very good teams in match play and they’re an example of a team that could be better suited for match play where (the men) have struggled in that format,” Kubacki said.
VU's Hazen to transfer: Valparaiso freshman Parker Hazen confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that he will transfer after spending one season with the Crusaders.
Hazen started 11 games during the 2017-18 campaign and averaged 1.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 21 games. The Columbia City native scored a career-high eight points against Trinity Christian in his second collegiate game and then scored just 10 points the rest of the season.
“I have nothing bad to say about Valpo,” Hazen said. “It was a difficult decision because of the 14 guys and because of my coaches. I’ll be looking at all the options I have. Whether that’s at the D-I level or going to Juco where I could play right away. The first priority is looking at all D-I offers.”
Hazen started at power forward for the first 10 games of the season before coming off the bench for a game at Northwestern in which he only played four minutes. He played in 15 minutes the next game against Santa Clara, but then was relegated to the end of the bench, save one more starting spot in the conference opener against Indiana State. Hazen didn’t play in 10 of the final 13 games of the season and played in just 11 minutes in 2018.
“It was difficult going from starting to not playing,” Hazen said. “I kept the same approach and I worked out even harder. I worked toward getting more opportunities. I’m grateful for everything even if those opportunities never came. Mentally, the guys that kept me going were my teammates.”
The Crusaders are expected to have two scholarships open now after losing Tevonn Walker and Max Joseph to graduate and Joe Burton to academics in addition to Hazen’s transfer. Valparaiso has Whitney Young product Javon Freeman coming in as well as Canadian point guard Daniel Sackey.