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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Bowling teams qualify for national championships

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For the first time in team history, both the men's and women's bowling teams qualified for the Intercollegiate Bowling Championships.

The men's team finished second and the women's team finished third in last weekend's Midwestern Sectional in Chesterfield, Mo., which was one of four sectionals held around the country.

The sectionals had a total of 64 men's and women's teams from around the country. The top four teams in the men's and women's divisions qualified for nationals on April 24 in Tulsa, Okla.

The Kansas men's team was seeded 2nd in the sectional and 4th nationally. The women's team was seeded 5th in the sectional and 9th nationally. Kansas coach Mike Fine said this was the step the team needed to become a top-tier program.

"We've talked for years that we wanted to be one of the elite programs in the country," Fine said. "To do that you have to be able to get both the men's and women's team into nationals. It's something we've worked awfully hard for, for an awfully long time, and we are awfully proud."

This is the third straight year the men's team has qualified for nationals, and only the second time the women have qualified, the previous time in 1995.

The Kansas men's team, along with Wichita State University, ran away with the competition and easily qualified.

"In both the men's and women's competition there were two teams that were way ahead of the field. The real drama came to see was going to be third and fourth," Fine said.

Wichita State and Nebraska dominated the women's competition and Kansas, McKendree College and Lindenwood University were all in contention for the final two qualifying positions.

"After 11,000 pins, 63 games and nine frames, it came down to the 10th frame and the last bowler on each team," Fine said. "When the smoke settled our women finished four pins ahead of Lindenwood and six pins ahead of McKendree."

Members of the men's team were excited that the women's team also qualified.

"The women have been working so hard," Marc D'Errico, Rochester, N.Y., junior, said. "It is my third year going to nationals and I am happy that the women will get a chance to participate."

Kristina Boehm, Olathe senior, said that the men's team often helped the women in practice and tournaments.

"The men are a little more knowledgeable about the lanes and help us. There is little separation between the two teams," Boehm said. "We are really more like a big family than a team.

D'Errico agreed that it helped that the team was close to one another.

"I am from Rochester, N.Y., and when you are that far away from home, it is important to have a team that is more like a family," D'Errico said. "It helps both on the lanes and off the lanes."

The team now has nearly an entire month to prepare for nationals, but there's plenty of work to do between now and then, Fine said.

"I figured I would give them a day off and then it is back to the practice schedule," Fine said.

After getting yesterday off, the team will spend the next month re-examining equipment and skills set. The team will practice every day between now and the tournament for about two hours per day.

"We've prepared and practiced and now we just have to be ready when the time comes," D'Errico said.

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