NORTH KANSAS CITY, MO. In second place after the first day of the Intercollegiate Bowling Conference sectional qualifier at AMF Pro Bowl, Kansas University's men's club team bowled over leader Nebraska and the rest of the 12-team field Sunday to capture the crown.
Jesse James, Tom Partridge, Scott Light, Eric Topham, Marc D'Errico and Mike Keeler combined for a 12,537-pin total for the Jayhawks. Wichita State (12,352), Central Missouri State (12,154) and Nebraska (12,111) finished second through fourth and will join the Jayhawks at nationals next month.
"The way we performed this weekend, I don't know of any team that could have beaten us," said Partridge, a senior from Olathe. "We beat three of the top six teams in the country."
KU, seeded sixth for the qualifier and ranked 17th nationally, needed to place in the top four to advance to nationals, scheduled for April 18-21 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"The men moved into first at the start of the afternoon session and slowly pulled away," KU coach Mike Fine said following the Jayhawks' second sectional title in three years. "We felt had a real legitimate chance to do well at this tournament. The whole team bowled well. This is really significant for our program."
Partridge, Topham and Keeler were on that Jayhawk team in 1999 that placed ninth at nationals.
"It's really a relief," Partridge said. "Our goals have moved on past getting to nationals to winning it. It's a different feel."
At the women's tournament, KU placed sixth with 10,491 pins. The Jayhawks were in ninth after the first day. Wichita State won with 11,930.
The men will have three weeks to practice before heading to the 16-team national.
"We weren't flawless this weekend," Partridge said. "We have a lot of things to work on."
Kansas 12,537 (Jesse James, Tom Partridge, Scott Light, Eric Topham, Marc D'Errico, Mike Keeler), Wichita State 12,352, Central Missouri State 12,154, Nebraska 12,111, Northern Illinois 12,003, Illinois State 11,699, Illinois 11,666, Winona State 11,594, Minnesota 11,428, Lindenwood 11,420, Texas A&M; 11,368, St. Cloud State 10,829.
Wichita State 11,930, Central Missouri State 11,834, Nebraska 11,810, Illinois State 10,891, Illinois 10,709, Kansas 10,491 (Kimber Jantz, Nicole Mosqueda, Tiffany McBurney, Barri Forkos, Kristina Boehm), Lindenwood 10,394, Northern Illinois 10,315, Southwest Missouri State 10,176, St. Cloud State 10,089, McKendree 9,310.