For the second time in program history, the McKendree University men’s bowling team is one victory away from a national championship.
The Bearcats, seeded No. 10 after qualifying play on Thursday, secured a spot in the title match at the 2016 Intercollegiate Team ChampionshipsFriday night by defeating previously undefeated and third-seeded Webber International University twice in bracket play. By coming through the elimination bracket, McKendree will now square off against No. 9 seed William Paterson University Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan.
This will mark the Bearcats’ second ITC championship match in four years. Back in 2013, McKendree made an undefeated run to the title contest before Robert Morris University (Ill.) took home top honors by sweeping the Bearcats in a best-of-three Baker match.
Three seniors on this year’s McKendree men’s bowling squad – Riley Smith, Ryan Patterson and Shawn Bibee – were all part of the Bearcats’ squad that competed for the 2013 ITC national championship.
“These guys have been so resilient all weekend,” said McKendree men’s bowling coach Dennis Knepper. “They have done a tremendous job of staying in the moment, staying focused and making the big shot when we needed it. It’s been a total team effort, and they feed off one another. I’m proud of their effort and determination all season long, and especially the way it has come through here in the national tournament.”
McKendree entered Friday’s competition with a 2-0 record in double-elimination bracket play. The Bearcats began the day’s action by meeting Webber International. The Warriors knocked McKendree into the elimination bracket with a 4.5-1.5 victory. Up next for the Bearcats was Midland University, which was the No. 2 seed through the qualifying rounds. The match went the full seven games, with McKendree rolling past the Warriors 230-192 in the deciding contest for a 4-3 triumph.
The win over Midland paired McKendree back against Webber International once again. This time, the Bearcats needed to defeat the Warriors twice to advance to the championship match. McKendree dropped the first two games before fighting back to win the match in seven games. The Bearcats then needed just five games in the “if necessary” match-up to qualify for Saturday’s championship.
William Paterson made an undefeated run through the bracket to earn its meeting with McKendree. The Warriors were 2-0 on the first day of bracket competition before posting a pair of 4-3 wins in Friday’s contests, defeating Robert Morris and Wichita State University for its spot in the finals.