Allow Wichita State senior bowler Dasha Kovalova to describe what it feels like in the moments before finishing off the only opponent that stands in the way of a national championship berth.
“I felt like a rock star,” Kovalova said. “If we would be at the top and the crowd would be at the bottom, I would probably jump into it. But coach (Mark Lewis) probably wouldn’t like it because it’s dangerous. That’s how I felt.”
The Shockers beat Maryland Eastern Shore 4-0 in Friday’s best-of-seven semifinals, advancing to face Webber International in Saturday morning’s best-of-five intercollegiate championship at Northrock Lanes. WSU won each game by at least 39 pins in front of a large, loud cheering section that included several former bowlers celebrating a reunion weekend.
WSU’s men, who began in the losers bracket early Friday morning, won four match but lost in the semifinals to William Paterson, and Newman’s women were eliminated in the morning by Delaware State.
The WSU women played a seven-game first-round match but defeated its other three opponents in five games or fewer. The most thorough domination came in the semifinals, in which the Shockers had three streaks of at least six strikes in a row.
“We had a pretty good idea what to do and what adjustments to make, and the girls really saw it really good,” Lewis said. “We just had a really good game plan, and you can’t really execute it any better than that. It was great. Great.”
WSU was energized by Sydney Brummett, the leadoff bowler in the Baker format in which five players bowl two frames apiece. Brummett, a sophomore, notched strikes in all eight of her semifinal turns as the Shockers took permanent leads in the first frame of three of the four games.
Also providing a boost was the pro-Shockers contingent that grew more boisterous with each strike in Game 4 until WSU finished with 10 in a row. Lewis smiled at the crowd’s inventive chants and the Shockers played into their enthusiasm by engaging and reacting to them.
“The alumni group that’s in town, they’ve been unbelievable,” Lewis said. “They’re making (the players) laugh, they’re making me laugh.”
Even though Maryland Eastern Shore had a more taxing day coming through the losers bracket, WSU’s emotions also seemed to run the gamut. Immediately following the celebratory final frames, some players cried at the recognition of their accomplishment and the effort it took to reach it.
WSU hasn’t won a women’s championship or played in the title game since 2009, but the Shockers can imagine what it might feel like.
Allow Kovalova to describe that elusive feeling.
“I would probably cry a lot,” Kovalova said. “But at least it would be happy tears, right? It would mean a lot, too. It would mean a whole lot.”
WSU men lose in semis – Playing their fifth match of the day, WSU’s men lost 4-2 to William Paterson in the semifinals, missing a chance to defend their 2015 championship.
“We’ve been here over 11 hours,” WSU coach Gordon Vadakin said. “It’s like five basketball games in a row is what it’s like. This is one of the toughest mental and physical tests any student athlete in our sport goes through – coaches for that matter, too. It’s mind-numbing stuff.”
- Where: Northrock Lanes
- Saturday: Men’s singles semifinals, final, 9 a.m.; Women’s team finals, Wichita State vs. Webber International, 11 a.m.; Women’s singles semifinals, final, 3:30 p.m.; Men’s team finals, William Patterson vs. McKendree, 5:30 p.m.