The McKendree Bearcats bowling team earned a runner-up finish at the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Intercollegiate Team Championships. The Bearcats were defeated Saturday afternoon in the finals by Robert Morris University.
The tournament was held at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Neb.
The McKendree men's program was making its first appearance in the national finals and was bowling in the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships for just the second time. This is the highest national finish for the program, which was started back in 2001.
"I'm so proud of what the guys accomplished this weekend," said McKendree men's bowling coach Dennis Knepper. "You could tell that they were a little off their game at the start, but once we got back into a rhythm we really started to bowl well.
"We had a chance in that first game but the breaks didn't go our way. But you have to credit Robert Morris. They bowled well from start to finish and earned it on the lanes."
After grabbing the No. 8 seed following the 24-game qualifying rounds, McKendree proceeded to post a 4-1 overall record in match play to reach the championship round. The Bearcats won both of their matches in double-elimination play on Thursday before falling to Fresno State in its first contest on Friday.
McKendree bounced back to handle Notre Dame College in an elimination match before meeting Fresno State again with a berth in the title match on the line.
The Bearcats needed to defeat Fresno State twice to reach the Saturday finals, and McKendree was able to deliver. McKendree swept the Bulldogs in the first semifinal match before posting a 4-1 triumph in the second best-of-seven match to set up its meeting with Robert Morris.
In the finals, which was a best-of-three contest, Robert Morris rolled to a 223-192 win in the first game before taking the title with a 258-207 decision in game two.
"Our team really showed it was just that this weekend, a team," said Knepper. "Everyone stepped up and contributed and made it a phenomenal experience."
Sophomore Adam (A.J.) Johnson was named to the All-Tournament team at the conclusion of the championship match. Johnson served as the Bearcats' anchor bowler all weekend and made some big shots to propel the Bearcats into the championship match.
Eight bowlers represented the Bearcats at the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships.
In addition to Johnson, McKendree also had seniors Richard Arens, Darren Dunning, and Billy Netzhammer, junior Dillon Polansky and freshmen Shawn Bibee, Ryan Patterson and Riley Smith on its tournament roster.
The championship match of the 2013 USBC Intercollegiate Team Championship will be aired on a tape-delay basis by CBS College Sports on May 24 at 9 p.m.