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Wichita State bowler Tan looks to complete standout career with team title

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 7:46 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 18, 2013, at 6:34 a.m.

Word on Wichita State bowling travels fast. And far.

It reached Jazreel Tan, one of the best bowlers on the largest continent. The Singapore native became part of an international networking system WSU coaches Gordon Vadakin and Mark Lewis have developed over the years, frequently hearing about and from former Shocker bowlers overseas.

The connection between Tan and WSU is even deeper than most because her national coach in Singapore, Pat Henry, is a former WSU assistant. As Tan became a proficient bowler during her teenage years, she went back-and-forth about whether to attend college in her native country or in the United States.

Eventually, the chance to play for a renowned program — the Shocker women have won nine intercollegiate national championships — pulled Tan to Wichita State. The two-time college player of the year has helped lead the Shockers to a No. 1 national ranking and to the USBC Intercollegiate Championships, which begin Thursday in Lincoln, Neb.

"Everything just found its way back," Tan said. "(Henry) just kept recommending me to come here because he says it’s just a different concept. Yes, the level of bowling might not be as good as international bowling, but it’s not about the scoring, it’s not about the winning. It’s about learning team play, communication, and everybody coming together for one reason — to win a national championship."

Tan decided that she was going to continue to pursue education after the Singapore equivalent of high school, but she also wanted a chance to continue to bowl at a high level — she was the national champion in her native country about two years after she took up the game and is a two-time sportsgirl of the year in Singapore.

Her pursuit of bowling, she said, troubled some teachers who felt she needed a better balance between playing and studying. She thought she could find that balance at WSU. She continues to play occasionally in Asia, where she earned three medals in the Asian Bowling Championships in 2012.

"They told me, ’If you’re going to go to college bowling in America, Wichita State’s the school to go to,’ ” said Tan, a WSU senior. "I totally believe in that. I can’t speak for other schools, but I know how hectic and how strict our training schedule is.… We still have the fun aspect. It doesn’t get boring."

Tan has racked up numerous awards, including the Amateur Bowler of the Year in 2012 and four times on the college All-American list. Her achievements are especially impressive because she didn’t start bowling until she was 13.

Bowling was just the next sport on the list for Tan to try as she discovered, at an early age, her passion for athletics. She began bowling just for fun, but when she began to notice that she was better than everyone else, it got serious.

"I was a swimmer before I started bowling, and I’ve always been in sports my entire life," Tan said. "I can’t live without sports, so I think that kind of helped me in picking up bowling faster."

Tan has won essentially all of the awards a college bowler can earn but her career isn’t yet complete because she hasn’t yet won a national championship. The Shockers have a strong chance to emerge as champions after winning eight of their 11 regular-season tournaments.

The national tournament will be Tan’s farewell to the United States, as she’ll return to Singapore after she graduates in May. There is no better way to go out than winning it all.

"It’s kind of sad that I only have two weeks left with these girls, because I’m done after this," Tan said recently. "It’s pretty sad, but knowing this is my last one is an extra motivation."

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