By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
It’s finally here.
The GCU Bowling teams will finally get their chances to compete for a national title. The Lopes will send both their men’s and women’s teams to Smyrna, Tennessee this weekend (April 7 and 8) to compete in the Collegiate Club Championships. The men’s team enters the tournament ranked No. 7 among club teams in the nation, while the women’s team is ranked No. 9.
Day 1 of the tournament will consist of pool play, with GCU facing off against in-state rival Arizona State, as well as Northern Kentucky, Ball State, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Rochester Institute of Technology. Pool play will determine seeding for match play, which begins Saturday night and determines the tournament champions Sunday.
Grand Canyon enters the tournament having made tremendous strides compared to where they were just a year ago.
“I’m extremely proud of where we are,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Ben Canfield. “Our goal is to win it all, but we have made such a big name for ourselves this year that it’s not a failed season if we don’t. When we are bowling at our best, we can compete with anyone.”
For the emerging program to play at its best, GCU will look to Lopes’ sophomore Kyle Reed to have a big outing. But despite having pressure placed on his shoulders, Reed is approaching the final tournament in a calm manner.
“Relax and have fun,” said Reed. “If we want to win, we all to focus on hitting our spares, and then moving on to the next frame. We can’t stress about any mistakes.”
Reed also sees the same progress this year for the program as his head coach.
“It’s because of our practice time,” Reed said. “We have a lot more time, our preparation is a ton better, and we’re all more experienced.”
On the women’s side, Lopes’ junior Emily Ornelas sees this tournament as an opportunity for a multitude of things.
“I’m looking forward to ending the season on a good note,” said Ornelas. “I’m super excited to go somewhere I’ve never been, and we have a good shot to win.”
When asked what important factors will lead to a team win, Ornelas replied, “We have to collaborate with each other. Talk through any struggles like splits and work together.”
This will be the second trip to nationals for both the men’s and women’s squads. They’ll both be trying to top their performances from last year’s tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana, where the GCU Men took 7th place, and the Lopes’ Women finished 9th.