The Grand Canyon University bowling teams’ disappointments in exiting the Collegiate Club Championships on Sunday only showed how far they had come this season.
The men’s and women’s teams each entered the weekend national event with a No. 10 ranking and performed to that expectation. The men tied for seventh overall and the women time for ninth place.
Those feats need the perspective of knowing that GCU bowling more than doubled its participation since last year, when it went to nationals with one co-ed team. Each team will return every player for next season.
“We’re now known in the college bowling community as a school that is competitive and is one of the top schools in the West,” Lopes second-year coach Ben Canfield said. “Next year, we can make a run to be the best team in the West.”
The men’s team won two tournaments – Montclair (Calif.) Open and Antelope Shootout – and the women won a Tier 1 event, the Rebel Classic in Las Vegas.
On Saturday, the GCU men beat Bowling Green, 3-0, in the opening round of the Collegiate Club Championship and rallied from an 0-2 deficit in the second round to defeat Ohio State, 3-2. Morehead State handed GCU a 3-2 loss that put the Lopes in the elimination bracket, where GCU beat South Florida, 2-1, before dropping the second game of a 2-0 loss to Toledo in a season-ending heartbreaker.
The Lopes men’s team was anchored by Cameron Smith and captained by Kyle Simi with teammates Joshua Mabry, Nick Ochse, Ronald Dela Torre, Zachary Rapp, Michael Heath and Kyle Reed.
The GCU women’s team had a more difficult path after losing a first-round match with Purdue. They rebounded to beat Ball State, 2-1, but were eliminated by Adrian College.
Correen Lieber anchored the women’s team with teammates Naomi Miller, Debbie Papin, Emily Ornelas and Jennifer Pheigaru.
“I learned a lot and I’m excited for the future,” Canfield said. “We showed a lot of growth. Our goal was to win one tournament this season and we won three.”