By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
The 2017-18 bowling season came to an end last weekend for the Grand Canyon University Bowling teams in extremely satisfying fashion. The Lopes’ Men’s and Women’s teams traveled to Smyrna, Tennessee for the Collegiate Club Championships. With this being the final opportunity to make a statement, GCU gave one of their best performances of the year with a 5th place finish for the men, and 3rd place for the women.
Having not placed as high as third since October, the Lopes’ Women set the tone on day one by finishing second in their pool. Despite only having five bowlers with no subs, Grand Canyon used that momentum to sweep West Texas A&M, 3-0
“It was the best that they worked together all season,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Ben Canfield. “It all came together in match play.”
The Lopes made it to the final match in the winner’s bracket before falling to Bowling Green State University (the eventual tournament winner) in a close five-game series, 3-2. Grand Canyon then faced Morehead State University for the right to play Bowling Green in the championship match, but lost in a three game series, 2-0.
Lopes’ senior Correen Lieber reflected on what this type of performance meant to her and the team.
“It shows that we are working hard and improving,” said Lieber. “This will get us tons of exposure to get new recruits. We used to try to make decisions on our own, but we talked a lot more this time around.”
With this season beings Lieber’s last, she also reflected on her career as a whole.
“It’s definitely sad. I was dreading that moment all year. Bowling collegiately has been so fun, and working with others is an experience you don’t really get anywhere else.”
Meanwhile, the Lopes’ Men accomplished one of the main goals they set before leaving for the Volunteer State by besting their 7th-place finish at nationals a year ago, finishing 5th in Smyrna. While they have grown accustomed to finishing higher than 5th this season, unprecedented milestones at the tournament branded the entire weekend a success. In a pool-play race that essentially became a four-way tie, the Lopes earned the first-place victory by defeating their archrivals from Arizona State University.
After losing in the third round to Morehead State University, the Lopes found themselves in a final elimination rematch with ASU. With everything on the line, and GCU having beat the Sun Devils once already, the Lopes secured the victory again in a 2-0 sweep.
For Lopes’ senior Kyle Simi, this was a moment he could remember forever.
“It’s been such an incredible journey,” said Simi. “We made so much progress since my freshman year. Everyone has worked. So hard it feels amazing to be able to end my career here on a high note.”
“We struggled to beat them consistently all year,” said Canfield. “To beat ASU twice in one weekend is a major accomplishment for the program as a whole.”
The Lopes finished out the tournament with a 2-0 sweep over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before falling, 2-0, in their final match against University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the top-ranked team in the field.
With both teams having plenty to be proud of, Canfield reflected on the season’s end, and having to say goodbye to his seniors.
“It’s always a bittersweet feeling,” said Canfield. “We went out on a positive note, and it’s a testament to how hard the team worked all year long. This continues to put our name on the map as a relevant college team on the west coast, and we look forward to competing with the best schools in the nation next year.”