Morningside’s men’s bowling team qualified for the ITC Sectional Tournaments for the first time in the three-year history of the program.
The Morningside College men’s bowling team made great strides throughout the 2015-16 season and as a result will compete in the Intercollegiate Team Championship (ITC) Sectional Tournament on March 11-13 at Stardust Bowl in Addison, Ill.
The Mustangs were one of 80 teams from all levels of collegiate bowling that were selected to compete in one of four ITC Sectional Tournaments sponsored by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), from which the top four teams from each sectional will advance to the 2016 USBC Intercollegiate National Championship to be held April 19-23 in Wichita, Kan. The other sectional tournament sites are Las Vegas, Nev.; Smyrna, Tenn.; and Stratford, N.J.
Morningside is in its third season of varsity competition and this is the first time the Mustangs have qualified for a sectional tournament.
Mustang head coach Steve Gonshorowski said the Mustangs’ progression this year has literally been from the bottom up.
“We finished dead last in our first tournament when we competed in the Sandhills Collegiate Classic in Lincoln, Neb., back in October,” Gonshorowski said. “Since that time we have beaten some of the teams that were at that tournament by as many as 400 pins.”
One month after the disappointing finish at the Sandhills Collegiate Classic, the Mustangs qualified for the match play portion of the Hastings College Invitational, where they upset No. 1 seed University of Nebraska in the semifinals en route to a second place finish. Gonshorowski called that a turning point in the Mustangs’ season.
“Beating Nebraska gave our guys a big confidence boost,” Gonshorowski said. “We went from being a competitive team to a highly competitive team. At our last two tournaments we placed fifth at the Viterbo V-Hawk Invitational and third at the Hastings Bronco Open.”
Morningside’s bowling program had a first at the Bronco Open when Alex Eukovich, a sophomore from Berwyn, Ill., finished first in the individual standings with a total of 1208 pins in six games for a 201 average to become the Mustangs’ first-ever tournament individual champion.
“He has come a long way in his two years here,” Gonshorowski said. “At our first tournament of the year he averaged 174 and then he averaged 201 at the last one. He has worked very hard and is probably the best practice bowler we have.”
Eukovich has an average of 181.8 for the year, while the Mustangs’ season leader is Austin Naylor, a junior from Wyoming, Mich., with an average of 188.5. Naylor made the all-tournament team at the Viterbo V-Hawk Invitational with a fourth place finish in the individual standings.
Eukovich and Naylor will be joined by teammates Jared Bade, a freshman from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa; Dylan Casper, a sophomore from Sioux City; Tanner Hansel, a freshman from Sioux City; Kyle Kommes, a freshman from Le Mars, Iowa; Tyler Lane, a junior from Dakota City, Neb.; and Dylan Malcom, a sophomore from Ida Grove, Iowa, in the group of competitors the Mustangs send to the ITC Sectional.
The sectional format will consist of 32 Baker games each day on March 12 and 13. Total pins for the 64 games will determine the four teams that will advance to the national championship event in Wichita.
In addition to the team competition, each sectional will host qualifying events on March 11 to determine the field for the national singles tournament on April 19 and 23 in Wichita.
Aside from Morningside, the other schools that will compete in the Addison Sectional include Bowling Green State, Calumet of St. Joseph, Clarke, Davenport, Grand Valley State, Highland Community College, Huntington, Illinois State, Indiana Institute of Technology, Iowa Central Community College, Morehead State, Mount Mercy, Purdue, St. Ambrose, Saint Francis, Waldorf, Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Wisconsin-Stout, Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Wright State.