For the third time in the four-year history of the Sam Houston women’s bowling program, the Bearkats are headed to the NCAA Championships.
The SHSU women are one of eight teams that will participate in the NCAA Division I bowling championships to be held Thursday through Saturday, April 10-12 in Wickliffe, Ohio. The Games of Wickliffe bowling center will host the event.
“Obviously you’re always nervous because you’re not in the tournament until your name is called,” Sam Houston head coach Brad Hagen said after the NCAA Committee’s selections were announced at 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. “But we felt confident that we had done everything we had to do to put ourselves in a position to be selected. Especially in our last couple of tournaments during the regular season we really picked up a lot of momentum. Now we need to carry that momentum into the tournament.”
During the 2013-14 season, Sam Houston has compiled an overall record of 90 victories and 42 losses in dual match play. That includes a 47-38 record against teams in the top 20 and 21 wins over top 10 teams.
Only No. 1 ranked Arkansas State has posted more victories (91). The Bearkats have four wins this season over the ASU Red Wolves and three victories over last year’s NCAA champion Nebraska.
The selection Wednesday was most meaningful for Bearkat seniors Kimi Davidson and Neishka Cardona, both the only remaining members from Sam Houston’s inaugural team from 2010-11.
“Getting back to the NCAAs has been our goal all year and we’ve really pushed each other to get there,” Cardona said. “When we were sophomores, we didn’t get selected. That tournament was in Cleveland and so is this year’s. So we feel that this is the one that got away.”
Davidson and Cardona both believe they can help their teammates by sharing their experiences in the previous two trips to the Elite Eight. Sam Houston placed seventh both years at the NCAA tournament.
“The first two years we were excited just to get in the tournament,” Davidson said. “Now, as seniors, we want to go out winning a national title. We knew coming into the second half of the season we had to go full steam to accomplish our goal of earning an NCAA berth. We need to keep that going and keep pushing as we head to Cleveland.”
Arkansas State, Central Missouri, Nebraska, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Fairleigh Dickinson, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin-Whitewater are the other seven teams selected. Sam Houston has victories this season over each of those teams.
“Down the stretch in the last month, the girls have really shown up in match play,” Hagen said. “Now we have to stay focused, build on the momentum we’ve achieved and carry it over to Cleveland.”
All eight berths in the national tournament are at-large selections. Seedings for the Elite Eight are set during the first day of the NCAA event as the squads play a round-robin schedule. Double elimination match play begins on the second day.
"Whatever happens, I'm proud to the job our girls have done this year," Hagen said.