Midway through the fall semester within the heat of tournament competition, the Oklahoma Christian University men’s and women’s bowling teams are rolling through their season with top-15 finishes, sparing no effort as they look to continuously build and improve.
In their second year of competition, Coach James Hays brought in six new additions to the women’s team and five additions to the men’s.
Hays said he believes the growth and potential of his young team provides a unique advantage.
“We are in our second year, so having some returners brings our experience level up,” Hays said. “Our teams are still very young, but full of potential. The coaching staff feels they can be real competitive as the season progresses.”
Each program has competed in three tournaments this fall. In their most recent tournament, the Tier I Mid-States Championship on Sunday, Oct. 20, the women placed 12th out of 26 teams.
Junior Abbey Parks, a dual athlete in bowling and softball, said she performed under average in the tournament and wants to improve her spares and pocket percentage, while focusing on why she loves the game.
“In our last tournament, I averaged a 179.5, with the team’s top single game at 220,” Parks said. “I did OK, but it needs to be at least a 190 average. I enjoy bowling because you can never be satisfied. There is always something to improve. It is very competitive and creates mentally strong athletes.”
The women will not return to competition until Dec. 18-21, when they travel to Las Vegas to compete in two Tier I events—the Glenn Carson Las Vegas Shootout and the Collegiate Shoot-Out.
The men bowled Oct. 20 in their first Tier I event of the season, the Mid-States Championship, posting an 11th place finish out of 34 teams. Oklahoma Christian missed the bracket play tournament for champion by two places.
The Eagles will return to competition next week, Nov. 2-3, when they travel to Lawrence, KS, to compete in the Jayhawk Collegiate Challenge.
Hays said he expects both teams to make a push to qualify for post-season play next semester.
“I feel both teams can make a run at qualifying for the sectional tournament in March,” Hays said. “We have a lot of work to do and a lot of experience to gain, but I feel good overall at their capabilities.”
Parks said she set three personal goals for herself to accomplish this season.
“Individually, I would like to win a tournament, average 190 for the season and be a good role model for the younger girls,” Parks said.
As the team looks to future competition, Hays said he set several team goals for the season to improve overall performance and have a positive team experience.
“Team culture and chemistry are very important in bowling, so finding those early and getting all the men and women working together will be big for the success of the teams this year,” Hays said. “We also have to become better spare shooters. If we want to compete for championship, then our spare percentages have to be higher.”
With the bowling teams practicing off-campus and traveling for tournaments, students can support the team through social media and even attend nearby competitions.
“People should post on their social media about us, follow our Facebook page or maybe even go to the close tournament in Shawnee, OK,” Parks said. “Bowling is a very hard sport to support due to the fact that we never have a home tournament.”