The one thing Newman’s women’s bowling team could count on this season was that there was always someone to count on. The mystery came in which player it would be.
Nine players combined for 15 top-12 tournament finishes for the Jets, who are ranked No. 12 nationally. In eight of Newman’s nine tournaments, it had at least one top-12 finisher, and in five tournaments the Jets had two or more.
Newman will play for the intercollegiate team championship, which begins Thursday at Northrock Lanes. Haley Williams and Miranda Hejny qualified for the 16-player singles tournament, which began Tuesday.
“It says a lot for our depth,” Newman coach Billy Murphy said. “I think we do have a lot of depth, and someone different has been stepping up each event. It’s nice to have that depth.”
Newman’s depth features quality at the top. Williams and Kelly Machacek each had three top-10 finishes, though none were in the same tournament. In qualifying last month for the singles tournament, Williams scored 1304 for six games, 27 pins better than her closest competitor.
Ashley Hare has two top-10 finishes and Caycee Landers, who once played at Wichita State, joined Newman for two second-semester tournaments and has a team-best 205.9 average. She finished second in the regular-season-ending Hoosier Classic in February.
“It’s honestly easier to relax going into this tournament knowing we have eight girls who at any given time can go in and bowl well,” Hare said. “It’s OK if somebody has an off day because there is always somebody there who is going to step up and pick up the slack.”
The depth discovery didn’t end with the regular season – Newman found a late surprise in Hejny.
After finishing 345th at the Hoosier Classic, Hejny, a sophomore, finished tied for third in singles qualifying to reach this week’s 16-player field. She bowled five of six games better than her 177.7 average, including a 246 in Game 6 to earn her championship spot.
Murphy said Hejny went through some mechanical changes to her swing that allowed her to improve post-Christmas.
“She was going through a little bit of a rough patch there,” Murphy said. “The changes in her physical game have come along. Right before the (qualifying) tournament, I thought she was bowling better. I’ve always known she had it in her, but I think it just kind of clicked.
“The swing change started feeling a lot better, she got a little confidence and that kind of put her over the top.”
Depth is important in the national tournament and few can equal Newman’s. It helped the Jets finish in the top eight in each of its events and survive what Murphy called a mini-slump near Christmas.
Last season, Newman missed the national tournament.
“Based on the way our season ended last year and the taste it left in all of our mouths, I think we have such a drive,” Williams said. “We’re all working so much harder and going so much harder because we didn’t want to be in the same position as we were last year.”
Singles – No local players reached the semifinals during Tuesday’s singles play.
Wichita State’s Estefania Cobo qualified sixth but lost in the second round Tawni Vollmer of Webber International 648-608. Williams beat Samanth Pasch 582-476 in the first round, but lost in the second round to Emily Eckhoff of Hastings 578-544. Hejny lost in the first round to Jacqueline Evans of Lawrence Tech 660-578.
In men’s singles, Wichita State’s A.J. Chapman lost in the first round to Kenneth Ryan of Robert Morris 576-512, and WSU’s Stephen Cowland, the No. 2 seed, was knocked out in the second round by Ben Pallardy of Lindenwood 692-577.
Singles semifinals and finals will be contested Saturday.
- When: Thursday-Saturday
- Where: Northrock Lanes
- Thursday: qualifying 8:45 a.m.; Round 1 match play, 4:45 p.m.; Round 2, 6:30 p.m.
- Friday: Round 3, 8:15 a.m.; Round 4, 10 a.m.; Round 5, 1:45 p.m.; Round 6, 3:30 p.m.; Round 7, 5:45 p.m.
- Saturday: Men’s singles semifinals, final, 9 a.m.; Women’s team finals, 11 a.m.; Women’s singles semifinals, final, 3:30 p.m.; Men’s team finals 5:30 p.m.