In a field loaded with seven squads ranked among the top-20 in the nation, the 20th-ranked Valparaiso bowling team sits in third place after the first day of competition at the Big Red Invitational, hosted by the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.
The Crusaders tallied a pinfall of exactly 3,000 pins over the 16 games on Thursday evening to finish the night in third place among the eight competing teams. #2 Vanderbilt leads the way with 3,124 total pins, while #4 Central Missouri is in second place with 3,102 pins. Among the teams Valpo currently leads are the nation’s #1 (Nebraska), #7 (Arkansas State), #12 (Minnesota State-Mankato) and #17 (Elmhurst) squads in the preseason top-20 poll.
"I am pleased with our performance today,” said Crusader head coach Stephen Anthony. “The field in this tournament is outstanding and it is a great opportunity for us to compete against the best. We approached the day with two goals and I believe we accomplished both of them; we obviously wanted to compete and put ourselves in good standing in the tournament after the first day. We were consistent today and were able to stay in the top half of the standings. We also wanted to post a positive W/L record and splitting after bowling four top-20 programs was a good result for us today."
Valparaiso used a consistent day on the lanes, contested in the baker format where five bowlers alternate to bowl two frames apiece each game, to claim third place after the first of three days of competition. 15 of the Crusaders’ 16 games on the day came in at 173 or better, but Valpo broke the 200-pin barrier just three times on the evening.
The Crusaders opened competition against Vanderbilt, falling in the four-game set against the Commodores 807-718. Valpo bounced back in its next four-game series against the host Huskers, the nation’s top-ranked team in the preseason, outscoring them 769-742, highlighted by a 212 third game.
The Crusaders followed with another victory in their next match versus Elmhurst, holding a 769-719 advantage over the Bluejays over the four-game set, including a 215 in the third game for their best team game of the day. Valpo closed competition on Friday with a 754-pin series against Central Missouri, but fell to the Jennies 786-754.
Valparaiso (11-7) continues play at the Big Red Invitational on Friday, as the second of three days of competition will be comprised of five games of traditional team play, commencing at 11:30 a.m.