Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Valparaiso Bowling Earns Bid to NCAA Championship
Crusader team members celebrate after the selection of the Crusaders to the NCAA Championship. (Fred Villarruel)
Crusader team members celebrate after the selection of the Crusaders to the NCAA Championship. (Fred Villarruel)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A journey which began in February 2009 with the introduction of the women’s bowling program to the Valparaiso University athletics department took a giant step forward on Wednesday, as the Crusaders learned they were one of eight programs selected to compete at the 2012 NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship in Wickliffe, Ohio on April 12-14.  The bid is Valpo’s first to the national championship in just the third year of program existence.

“I’m very excited that our bowling team will be competing for the university’s first national championship in any sport,” said Valpo director of athletics Mark LaBarbera.  “When we started the program, we were confident given the popularity of bowling in this region, combined with the quality of our institution, that we’d be able to recruit skilled bowlers that would be competitive at the highest level nationally.  I give a lot of credit to Stephen Anthony, our first coach and the one who got the program off the ground, as well as our current coach, Matt Nantais, and all our bowlers who have worked extremely hard to earn the opportunity to compete for the national title.”

Valparaiso (81-37) opened the season ranked 18th nationally in the NTCA Coaches Poll, but vaulted to #1 in the nation after winning the Greater Ozark Invitational and the Crusader Classic, before finishing third at the Hawk Classic.  The Crusaders have remained ranked among the country's top-eight squads ever since, finishing above .500 at all but one of their nine tournaments this season, and are ranked sixth in the latest iteration of the coaches poll.

“When I interviewed for the coaching position last summer, I told the team that we were going to go to the national championship this year,” said Nantais.  “After we started practicing and bowled our first tournament of the year and the bowlers saw how they were able to bowl together as a true team, I think it changed the team’s outlook and made them believe that they could get to the championship.  They’ve bought into the system and have worked hard to get to this point, and we look forward to focusing and taking this tournament just like every other one this season.”

Competition at the national championship begins with qualifying rounds on Thursday, April 12, in which each team bowls one five-person regular team game against each of the other seven teams participating in the championship for a total of seven games.  Teams will be seeded for bracket play based on their win-loss record during the qualifying rounds. 

Teams will then compete in best-of-seven baker matches in a double elimination tournament beginning on Friday morning, April 13.  In the Baker format, each of the five team members, in order, bowls a complete frame until a complete 10-frame game is bowled.   This year’s championship finals will air on ESPNU at 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday, April 14, with a replay of the championship finals on ESPN at 1:30 p.m. CDT Sunday, April 15.

“It means everything to us to be able to go to the national championship this year,” said senior Krystyna Johnson, one of six members of the 2011-2012 Crusader squad who have been with the program since its inception.  “We’re excited to have the chance to compete for the title, and it’s great to finally see all the hard work we’ve put in mean something.  We know going in that we have great team chemistry, and that gives us the confidence no matter what position we’re in to know that we can do great things.”

The Crusaders will be joined at the championship event by Arkansas State, Central Missouri, Fairleigh Dickinson, Maryland Eastern Shore, Nebraska, Sacred Heart and Vanderbilt, a group which contains all eight previous national champions, as well as seven of the previous eight runner-up squads. 

W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. #21/21 Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay