By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
Coming off their best season in school history, the Grand Canyon University Men’s Bowling program had their work cut out for them this off-season. Lopes Head Coach Ben Canfield was tasked with replacing eight graduating seniors who contributed to the team’s last year.
Canfield’s scouting over the summer sent him to various events and tournaments around the west, including the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championships in Dallas, Texas. That tournament featured 3900 competing bowlers, all of which could have been “potential Lopes”.
“The West Coast bowling community is small, so events like these are great for the program,” said Canfield. “Because of the growth in our program, recruiting is more accessible, and our goal is to build the largest program on the west coast.”
Welcoming New Talent
The GCU Men’s Bowling program will be joined by two new promising athletes this fall. Practically bowling in the Lopes backyard, Arizona native Matthew Adragna is the first commitment on the list.
Coming from Tucson , Canfield describes Adragna as “a talented left-handed bowler with plenty of success” who has made noise in the Junior Bowlers Tour. In his most recent invitational, Adragna finished 21st out of over 50 competing bowlers in June . It was through the JBT where Canfield was able to recruit the newest Lope.
The second soon-to-be Lope is Jackson Speece from La Vista, Nebraska. Canfield met Speece by chance when Jackson and his family visited Phoenix a few years ago, and that meeting-as well as the Speeces’ impressions of the GCU campus when they toured it-stayed with Speece long enough to want to bowl for the Lopes this coming season. Speece was not only a member of the all-state bowling team his senior year, but he also earned two different individual bowling scholarships. Each scholarship was awarded by Greater Omaha Bowling Association & Sport of Bowling Senior and U.S. Bowling Congress Nebraska USBC.
With the loss of five bowlers to graduation last April, Adragna and Speece will have a chance to step in and immediately contribute to the new-look team.
“We’ll have to identify new leaders on the team,” Canfield said. “I want to continue being competitive, and we can continue to do that through the same process we’ve had these past years.”