Husker Bowling: We are the CHAMPIONS!!


For the fifth time in school history, the Nebraska bowling team was crowned national champions on Saturday night at the NCAA Bowling Tournament held at Tropicana Lanes in St. Louis, MO. The Huskers defeated Stephen F. Austin 4 – 2 in the midst of a packed house, many of whom were wearing Husker red.

The Huskers went to St. Louis on a mission. The last time they hoisted the championship trophy was in 2013. The Big Red reached the final last year but fell to Sam Houston State. Loaded with talent including the NTCA Bowler of the year, Liz Kuhlkin, Nebraska was up to the task and ready to roll.

The Huskers went 5-2 in the qualifying rounds Thursday and Friday morning which placed them as the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Friday afternoon began double-elimination bracket play. Nebraska opened up with a rematch of last years NCAA championship final against Sam Houston State. NU avenged its loss in the championship final last year by defeating SHSU 4-1 (212-174, 217-224, 186-181, 212-174 and 196-181).

Big Red moved on to face Arkansas State in the second match of the double-elimination match play. NU claimed a 4-2 victory over Arkansas State (206-165, 190-183, 262-214, 178-269, 171-204 and 203-198). With two victories under their belt, Nebraska moved on to Saturday’s competition.

On Saturday morning, the Huskers again met Sam Houston State. Determined to reach the Saturday night final game, the Big Red defeated Sam Houston State 4-2 in the semifinal round.

Saturday night Nebraska found themselves where they wanted to be. With the tv cameras rolling and bright lights reflecting off the lanes, the Huskers were ready to go. Their opponent, Stephen F. Austin, stood in the way of another national championship. Nebraska understood the task at hand. They had bowled against SFA during the regular season and lost to them twice.

The championship final turned out to be quite a battle, not only between two teams but it was also a battle against lane conditions. As the teams, the crowd and the tv audience looked on, it became apparent that the left lane condition was challenging all the bowlers and it was a factor in the match.

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Huskers, who opened play on the right lane, narrowly beat SFA 237-232 in game one. In game two, Nebraska ran into difficulty on the left lane. Leaving some pins out on the alley in the first five frames of the game, the Huskers tried to get back on track but a 49-pin deficit is hard to recover from. Stephen F. Austin threw seven-consecutive strikes to defeat the Huskers 253-178.

Nebraska regrouped in game three on the right lane. They began with three strikes and two spares, giving NU a 13 pin lead after five frames. The Huskers were “striking it lucky” through the rest of the game, winning 201-171.

Back on the left lane for game four, it seemed as though NU had it figured out. The Huskers opened the game with two strikes and a spare to grab the early lead. NU took an 11 pin lead to the media timeout but that lead dissolved and SFA edged out NU 188-179 to even the match up 2-2.

Game five was a very close affair as the Huskers and Lady jacks traded the lead back and forth. NU was able to close out SFA after clutch shots from both Julia Bond and Liz Kuhlkin, as the Huskers took game five 205-201.

Game six was “do or die” for both teams. The Big Red trailed SFA by four entering the sixth frame. Following an open frame in the seventh, Andrea Ruiz hit a huge strike to put the Huskers ahead. Both Bond and Kuhlkin came through again with Kuhlkin throwing the final spare to give Nebraska the win 194- 154 and the match win 4-2.

As the team celebrated a national championship, they also celebrated two other awards. Husker freshman Julia Bond of Aurora, Ill., won Most Valuable Player in the NCAA National Championship match and senior Liz Kuhlkin made the all-tournament team.

A splendid night night indeed. The goal achieved. Congratulations to the Nebraska Bowling team!! GO BIG RED!!