Wichita State’s women’s bowling team needed Sydney Brummett more than she thought it would.
Brummett, a freshman from Fort Wayne, Ind., expected a year of development and slow progress on a team that ended the 2013-14 regular season as the top-ranked team in the nation.
“I kind of expected my first year just to be about experience,” Brummett said.
The Shockers needed more, though, after losing six of their top seven players from a team that finished ninth in the intercollegiate team championships, and Brummett has come through.
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She is second on the Shockers, and 10th in the nation, with an average slightly below 203.4. After early struggles, she finished third and first in WSU’s final two tournaments.
WSU is again top-ranked entering this week’s intercollegiate championships at Northrock Lanes. The Shockers maintained their perch, winning eight of 11 tournaments, with greater-than-anticipated performances from returners and newcomers.
WSU’s men, who finished first in last month’s qualifier in Fort Worth, also compete this week.
“This is a pretty new group that dominated,” WSU women’s coach Mark Lewis said. “… It’s kind of taken a while to get to that and blend to that and get those girls to get together a little bit better. After that fourth event where we went to Las Vegas and won those events, there was some learning process.”
Lewis describes some mild adversity that would be difficult for an outsider to find. The Shockers won their first tournament of the season in mid-October, won again a week later, and never finished worse than fifth.
WSU discovered depth along the way that the Shockers may not have known they had. Besides the in-season improvement from Brummett, holdovers such as Chenoa Rhoades and Laura Plazas became more prominent players, with averages in the top 40 nationally.
Rhoades won the Jayhawk Challenge in November giving WSU five tournament wins from three players – senior Dasha Kovlova won three.
“I think it helped that we had a lot of incoming talent,” Rhoades said. “Just a lot of positivity surrounding us. I think that’s what helped us have the season we’ve had so far.”
Kovlova was second in the nation in scoring last season, and the Shockers needed even more from her. She gave them more, becoming the country’s best scorer by average this season and finding a different level as a vocal leader.
Brummett, who had a 166 average in her second tournament, credits conversations with Kovlova for her rapid in-season turnaround. Lewis said Kovlova became more comfortable with her big-sister status.
“She’s from the Ukraine originally, her parents live in Moscow,” Lewis said. “Very quiet and timid when she got here, and she’s blossomed into the leader that she really can be. She’s more vocal, it’s not just by example.
“She’s a hard worker. She works it with the other girls. She’s encouraging, she helps them see what’s out there. She’s done a very good job from where she was when she first got here, when she barely talked.”
What: Intercollegiate Singles Championships and Intercollegiate Team Championships
Where: Northrock Lanes