The Valparaiso bowling program is set to host the fifth annual Crusader Classic at Inman's in Valparaiso this weekend. The three-day event, which begins Friday morning, welcomes many of the nation's best teams to the Crusaders' home lanes.
14 teams in all will compete for the Crusader Classic title this weekend. Included among the 14 teams are nine squads ranked among the nation's top-20, including the 14th-ranked Crusaders. Seven of those teams are ranked in the top-nine nationally, including the nation's top-four teams - #1 Nebraska, #2 Vanderbilt, #3 Central Missouri and #4 Arkansas State. Valpo also welcomes the winner - #9 Stephen F. Austin - and runner-up - #8 UW-Whitewater - from the nation's premier opening weekend tournament, the New Jersey Jamboree. Also competing are Alma, Elmhurst, McKendree, #19 Prairie View A&M, #6 Sam Houston State, Tulane and UAB.
In its fifth year, the Crusader Classic continues to grow. The inaugural edition in 2009 featured six teams, and the field has expanded every year since, not only in size but also in quality. Minnesota State-Mankato won the inaugural iteration of the event, and has been joined as Crusader Classic champions by Nebraska (2010), Valparaiso (2011) and Central Missouri (2012).
"I am pleased with the growth of the Crusader Classic," said Valpo head coach Matt Nantais. "I feel we have one of the nation's top tournaments that teams want to attend. We have expanded each year since I have been with Valparaiso, and this year we have 14 teams. This will be a very tough tournament for everyone, with the format set for each team to bowl everyone in the field at least once."
Announcements, introductions and the national anthem will kick off the tournament Friday morning at 9:50 a.m., with the teams competing over the course of the day in six four-game baker matches. Saturday's action, which will consist of six traditional team matches, begins at 8:30 a.m. Play on Sunday will also begin at 8:30 a.m., starting with a single best-of-seven baker match before entering two rounds of bracket play, also contested in the best-of-seven baker format, to determine the tournament champion. An awards ceremony will be held following the conclusion of play. Tickets for the tournament cost $5 per day, or $12 for a three-day pass.