For any team, nationally ranking 9th and winning first place at a sectional tournament is impressive. However, despite their success, chances are you haven’t heard much about the RIT Men’s Bowling Team. Later this month, the team’s eight members will compete against 15 other teams during the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Intercollegiate Team Championships in Columbus, Ga.
The team qualified for nationals after winning first place at sectionals in Allentown, Pa. There are four sectionals with 16 teams in each section, each representing a different skill level of ability. This design was intended to equally distribute skill throughout the four sectionals, allowing for fairer play.
Tournament bowling is a bit different than recreational bowling. Collegiate teams usually compete in a bowling style known as baker, where five members of a team each bowl two frames per game. For example, the player who bowls frame one also bowls frame six, the second teammate bowls frames two and seven, and so on.
RIT emerged on top after a two-day, 64-game sectional tournament. The team started out strong on the first day, averaging 220 points per game. When asked how they felt about the win, teammates Philip Kulis, a fourth year Civil Engineering major, and Steven Kaiser, a second year Mechanical Engineering major, gave the question some thought. After a moment, they both spoke up, saying “ecstatic” in complete unison.
According to Tyler Herrman, a third year New Media Interactive Development major, this chemistry is partially accountable for the team’s success. “This is the best bonded team we’ve had so far,” he says. “No drama. We’ve taken less talent, but have gone further with it.” He goes on to explain that during each meet, a different member of the team excels. In previous years, there have been outstanding individual players, but not necessarily a well rounded team. The players train twice a week at Clover Bowling lanes from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, or, according to Herrman, “whenever they kick us out.” While the practices are usually low-key (another reason why the team stays well grounded), preparing for nationals requires extra effort. Kulis anticipates that “until nationals, practices will be more focused.”
Nationals will be held on April 21-23 in Columbus, Ga. The three-day event will culminate with a televised final round between the two top teams. The first day of the event will serve to seed the teams into their tournament placing, which will take place on the second day in several rounds of double elimination baker-style play. The third and final day will be a competition between the two remaining teams.
Herrman has high expectations for nationals: “I personally want to win [nationals], but there’s a lot of good competition that we need to beat. We did it at sectionals, we beat teams that were theoretically better than us according to ranking. If we can repeat that, but just better, then I think we have a shot.”