The Fighting Bees and Queen Bees headed to Western Bowl in Indianapolis, Ind. for the biggest regular season tournament of the year. With 77 men’s teams and 60 women’s teams, both teams looked to gain momentum heading into sectionals.
The men would bowl first in the morning squad on Saturday and bowl six team games. St. Ambrose would find themselves close to the top of the leader board after the first day. The Fighting Bees would find themselves in fourth, less than 100 pins out of leader Morehead State University. Joe Kopera led the Fighting Bees, averaging 224 for the first six games and would be second individually heading into Sunday.
Sunday provided a longer oil pattern, 48 feet, and three games before a cut to the top 12 teams with the top four teams receiving a first round bye. St. Ambrose would start the day strong shooting 1012 for five men. However, that would be the highest score on Sunday as the Fighting Bees would fall to eighth for match play. St. Ambrose would face up against Saginaw Valley State, No. 9 seed, in the first round of match play. After losing the first game, St. Ambrose would battle back to tie the match up before winning the best-of-three series in the following game.
With some momentum in their corner, St. Ambrose would face the No. 1 seed, Morehead State, in the round of eight. However, the Fighting Bees would struggle late in game and allowed for Morehead State to wiggle their way back in and win the first game. Trying to bounce back in the second game would be unsuccessful, as St. Ambrose would be swept by the Eagles.
“The guys stepped up big time this weekend,” men’s coach Duane Fleming said. “A top eight finish at the biggest tournament of the year is exactly what we needed heading into the postseason.”
Kopera finished in seventh, averaging 209 and was the highest freshmen in the field. He also won a $150 scholarship. Morehead State would go on to eliminate McKendree University and Wichita State University en route to winning the 44th Annual Backhaul Direct Hoosier Classic.
The Queen Bees would get their weekend started late Saturday and would struggle out of the gate shooting 784. Starting in a hole, the Queen Bees started to climb out over the next two games up to 18th with 924 and 899 respectively. The next three games would only allow for minimal movement as the Queen Bees would move up to 13th to end the day. Looking to make a run on Sunday and make match play would be unsuccessful as the Queen Bees would only move up to 12th.
Maggie Suchoski led the Queen Bees throughout the weekend averaging 191 over nine games. Becca Czlapinski finished in 49th averaging 178 and in 50th was Kelly Granzow, also averaging 178. Both teams will wait for sectionals assignments to be announced Wednesday.
Last week both teams were placed in the Fairview Heights sectional which includes the number one team in the country, Robert Morris University. Sectionals will take place March 9-10 with the top four from each of the four sectional sites advancing to the Intercollegiate Team Championships in Lincoln, Neb.