Ranked 20th in the nation in the NTCA preseason poll, the Valparaiso women’s bowling team, under the leadership of head coach Stephen Anthony, is ready to get its first season of intercollegiate competition underway this weekend at the Greater Ozark Invitational.
The Crusaders’ roster for its inaugural campaign features 11 bowlers, two of whom are entering their senior year at Valpo. Five of the student-athletes are transfers, while the other four arrived at Valparaiso this fall as true freshmen. Erin Gleason and Alana Mackenthun are the two upperclassmen on this year’s Valparaiso squad, both of whom bowled for their varsity teams throughout their high school careers.
Among the Crusader transfers are twins Amanda Cortese and Natalie Cortese, both of whom have three seasons of eligibility remaining after transferring to Valpo from national-runners up University of Central Missouri. Natalie ranked fourth on the Jennies last year with a 189 average as a freshman, while Amanda averaged a 180 on the lanes in her rookie season.
Valpo also welcomes two other transfers from national semifinal teams. Jessica Guertin joins the Crusaders after spending her freshman season at national semifinalist Fairleigh Dickinson. Guertin, who won the MHSAA Division I Singles state title in 2006, bowled in five tournaments for the Knights as a freshman, including the NEC Championships. Krystyna Johnson comes to Valpo from national semifinalist Delaware State, where she carried a 183 average in limited action as a freshman after earning All-State accolades in her senior year of high school.
Ashley Busiel also transferred to Valpo prior to this academic year, but has freshman eligibility, as she joins the Crusaders from Harper College, which does not have a bowling squad. Busiel captured the Wisconsin Scholarship Bowling Club championship in March of this year. Prep classmates Nicole Hamilton and Lisa Janasik arrive at Valpo for their freshman year from Plainfield South [Ill.] H.S., where they served as co-captains, leading the squad to a fourth-place finish in its first-ever appearance at the state championships. Hamilton was a two-time state qualifier individually, while Janasik bowled leadoff for the Cougars last year and earned the team’s Cougar Award.
Morgan Sharp [begins her collegiate career after a very successful prep career, where she captained the Lockport TownshipIll.] H.S. bowling squad to a state title as a senior. Sharp placed 21st individually at the state tournament as a senior as well, rolling a 203.6 average. The final Crusader freshman is Gretchen VanHeeren, a four-year varsity bowler for Byron [Ill.] H.S.
This weekend’s tournament is one of ten that the Crusaders will participate in over the next five months as they prepare for their first appearance at the NCAA Championships, scheduled for April 8-10 in North Brunswick, N.J. Included on Valpo’s schedule this year is its first home event, the Crusader Classic at Inman’s Recreation Center on November 13-14.