The pins just keep falling for the St. Ambrose men’s bowling team as they are trying to reach a second straight Intercollegiate Team Championship birth this year.
The Bees, ranked 17th in the nation by collegebowling.com, are in the home stretch of their season with the MCC Championships taking place this past Saturday and only one tournament left before sectionals, the qualifier to reach the ITC.
While the program is only four years old, the Bees have enjoyed many successes in the past few years. Last season, the Bees qualified for the ITC for the first time in school history, and followed it up with a fifth place finish. This season most of those from the first recruiting class are now seniors using that experience to help to achieve even greater goals this year.
“I think St. Ambrose has built a good program,” senior bowler Sam Perterlin said. “It’s to the point where we have a lot of good bowlers bringing in other good bowlers and you know the rest of the college world is starting to respect us.”
Sophomore Kyle Anderson is leading the team this season in average and total pinfall, which puts him at 59th nationally. Anderson, coming off a freshman season where he won MCC Newcomer of the Year, all-conference honors and two individual titles, is one of the big pieces for this team not only for his bowling, but leadership too.
“He’s got great leadership skills and he’s very helpful for as good as he is,” Jeff Griebel, the assistant head coach, said. “He’s very team oriented, very supportive.”
However, since bowling in college is a team sport, the Bees look to other great options for help. The Bees have six bowlers in the top 20 conference averages, more than any other MCC team.
“That’s why we’ve been successful this year,” Griebel said. “I think the players are finally trying to understand the importance of the whole team chemistry that is necessary to be successful.”
Some of that chemistry gets lost during winter break. Unlike other school sports, the bowling season is split up into two parts, a fall season and a winter season. The six weeks the bowlers have off during winter break can be hurtful to the chemistry.
“It definitely gets you out of sync,” Peterlin said. “Having six or seven weeks off really does kill. Things were going smoothly in the first half of the season, then coming back from break to place 22nd at the Blue &
Gold Classic is kind of a reality check.”
Griebel is trying to get the team out to more tournaments over winter break in the future to limit that decline in team chemistry.
The Bees are without senior leader and second leading scorer Bryan Thompson, who is out after having back surgery in the last few weeks. He hopes to return to the team by sectionals. In the meantime, the Bees are working to improve and have a strong turnout for the end of the season.
“I think there’s just a little revenge out there,” Peterlin said in reference to the fifth place finish at the ITC last year. “We’re walking around with a chip on our shoulder like we’re one of the better teams. We’re a lot of fun to watch.”
St. Ambrose is looking to improve their ranking and shot at a national title. With the depth, talent on the roster, and the fifth place finish last season, those goals seem to be within grasp.