Valparaiso got in its final preparations for the 2012 NCAA Bowling Championship on Wednesday, culminating with the annual NCAA Championship banquet, where senior Natalie Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) was honored for the second straight year as an NTCA Honorable Mention All-American. The three-day tournament begins at Freeway Lanes in Wickliffe, Ohio Thursday morning at 8 a.m. CDT.
Valpo’s journey began on Tuesday, as the Crusaders departed the ARC with a sendoff from a number of their fellow student-athletes and staff members at 9 a.m. Valpo rolled into its hotel in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, on Tuesday afternoon, and after a visit to Freeway Lanes (a 20-minute drive) to drop off equipment and a stop for dinner, the Crusaders took time out for some fun, taking on the Arkansas State squad in a few games of laser tag.
Wednesday saw the Crusaders head to Freeway Lanes for their 90-minute practice session at 10:30 a.m. local time. Following the practice, Valpo hung around the alley while all of its bowling balls were weighed, checked in and certified for competition. The Crusaders then traveled back to the hotel, where the annual NCAA Bowling Championship banquet was held Wednesday evening, featuring a keynote speech from former collegiate bowler Jeri Edwards, who has gone on to serve as head coach for Team USA and currently is the head coach of Team Puerto Rico.
The banquet culminated with the announcement of the National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) All-American Teams, and for the second straight year, Cortese was named an Honorable Mention recipient after earning Second Team honors as a sophomore. Cortese paced Valpo this year with a 195.5 average over 47 traditional matches, including 19 games of 200 or better. An All-Tournament Team honoree at Vanderbilt’s Music City Classic and Central Missouri’s Greater Ozark Invitational, Cortese was recognized as one of Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” in its Dec. 5, 2011 issue.
Valpo begins the 2012 NCAA Bowling Championship Thursday morning, as introductions begin at 9 a.m. local time (8 a.m. CDT). Following a half-hour of practice, the first match is scheduled to begin at 8:50 a.m. CDT. The Crusaders will face each of the other seven teams in round-robin action on Thursday, contested in the traditional team format, with win-loss records on the day determining seeding for Friday’s bracket play. Valpo will take on Central Missouri, Nebraska, Sacred Heart and Arkansas State in the morning session, and will face Maryland Eastern Shore, Fairleigh Dickinson and Vanderbilt in the afternoon session.