By David Carter/GCU Club Sports Web Marketing Intern
After a rough opening round in their inaugural appearance at the 2019 Intercollegiate Team Championships (ITC) National Tournament, the GCU Men’s Bowling team rebounded to finish tied for 9th place Friday in Dayton, Ohio. Along the way, the Lopes pulled off the stunner of the tournament, upsetting the top team in the field in Round 1 of match play. It was the second time in three weeks that the Lopes posted a top-10 finish in a national tournament, having finished 9th as well at the Collegiate Club Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, earlier this month.
The Lopes qualified for nationals for the first time after posting a 4th-place finish at ITC Sectionals in Dallas, Texas last month. That put them among the top 16 teams in the nation – all of whom qualified from the four sectional tournaments across the nation – but the Lopes were one of only two teams actually making their nationals debut in Ohio.
“The competition was extremely tough,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Ben Canfield. “It was a true test of our growth as a program.”
The Lopes resembled the part of first-year participants during Thursday’s qualifying round, showing early jitters to finish the round last, and get saddled with the No. 16 seed in the double elimination match-play bracket – pitting them against the top seed. That didn’t stop the Lopes from pulling off their best result from the weekend, upsetting No. 1 seed Wichita State University in the first round.
“The guys tied the first game, then won the last three games in a row to win the game 4.5-3.5,” highlighted Canfield. “Wichita is the most decorated team in collegiate bowling. We were tied at 3.5-3.5 after seven games, and then the men shot a 256 in the roll-off to get the win.”
While it was a benchmark victory for the program, the Lopes couldn’t sustain the momentum against a very strong No. 9 seed from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the champions of the 2019 Collegiate Club Championships. UWW played like champions, tagging GCU with the Round 2 loss, 4-1. After the loss, GCU received a 3rd-round bye, then saw their season end in Round 4 at the hands of No. 4 St. Ambrose University 4.5-1.5.
Although the Lopes may not have not ended up on top, Canfield remains optimistic about the difference the top-10 finish will have for the GCU Bowling program.
“We will take what we learned from this season and use that to build for next season,” emphasized Canfield. “We will start planning now, and work hard over the summer to continue making ourselves known as a collegiate bowling contender.”
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