College Sports

McKendree women place second, Clemmer wins title at intercollegiate bowling championship

McKendree’s fight song is played at the White House

During the national champion McKendree women's bowling team visit to Washington, D.C., a band at the White House played the school's fight song.
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During the national champion McKendree women's bowling team visit to Washington, D.C., a band at the White House played the school's fight song.

The McKendree University women’s bowling team went down to the wire in the championship match of the 2019 Intercollegiate Team Championship held at Poelking Lanes South in Dayton, Ohio, posting a second-place finish in the 16-team field.

The Bearcats were edged 3-2 in the title match by Robert Morris University (Illinois) Saturday morning. McKendree, which was bowling in its third consecutive ITC championship match, was seeking the program’s second event crown. The Bearcats won the 2017 championship down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before posting a runner-up finish last April in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“I’m so proud of our team and the fact they put themselves in a position to win,” said head coach Shannon O’Keefe. “It’s been an honor to coach this team, and to see them enjoy the game, and accomplish what they have, is just wonderful to see as a coach. I give all the credit to Robert Morris because they came back, and made some tough shots at key moments that put them in a position to win as well.”

McKendree opened Saturday’s match by winning the first two games in the best-of-five Baker finals. The Bearcats took an early lead with a 230-205 triumph in game one before taking the second contest, 177-165. Robert Morris began its comeback with a 212-185 win in the third game. After pulling even with a 217-181 decision in game four, the Eagles finished off the match with a 183-177 victory in the fifth and decisive game.

This was the 15th consecutive year that McKendree has competed at the Intercollegiate Team Championship. During that run, the Bearcats have won the 2017 title while posting four second-place finishes and a pair of third-place showings.

Eight members of the McKendree women’s bowling program were part of the Bearcats’ national championship squad this weekend. The group includes seniors Lauren Pate, Ashley Dunn and Ashley Hathaway, juniors Breanna Clemmer, Taylor Bailey and Shannon Grimm, sophomore Britaney Myers and freshman Hope Gramly.

Clemmer became the first bowler in program history to win an Intercollegiate Singles Championship title.

Clemmer, who entered match play as the No. 14 seed in the 24-bowler field, earned the 2019 ISC women’s championship by winning a pair of matches on Saturday at Poelking Lanes. After edging past seventh-seeded Sierra Kanemoto from Wichita State University in a semifinal contest, Clemmer won the title in convincing fashion with a 32-pin triumph over No. 8 seed Jordan Newman from Vanderbilt University in the finals.

“I was speechless, but was really happy and excited after the match,” said Clemmer after winning the championship. “I was heartbroken after our loss (in the Intercollegiate Team Championship finals) earlier in the day, and I wanted to win this for my teammates, and especially our seniors. They have always been there for me and I wanted to end this week on a high note.”

Clemmer, the 2018-19 National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) Division II/III Player of the Year, won three matches when the single-elimination bracket play began Tuesday afternoon and carried over into Wednesday morning to reach the national semifinals on Saturday.

Following her 226-194 victory in the finals, Clemmer was able to celebrate with her grandfather along with McKendree senior teammate Lauren Pate.

“They sat right behind me for the matches,” said Clemmer. “I was so happy to share this moment with them because of what they have meant to me.”

This was the second time that Clemmer had qualified for the Intercollegiate Singles Championship. She reached the quarterfinal round during her freshman season in 2017.