Highland Bowling Teams Set Eyes on NJCAA National Championship and Beyond

The Highland Community College Bowling teams had one goal when they began the 2013-2014 season — to win a NJCAA National Championship. This week, we will see if their season-long excursion has prepared them to do just that.

Both the Men’s and Women’s Cougar Bowling teams head to Buffalo, NY to compete against the nation’s best NJCAA programs hoping to bring home the title to northwest Illinois.

And while both teams have legitimate shots at achieving their goals, it appears the Highland Lady Cougars have positioned themselves as a favorite in Buffalo.

The Lady Cougars — consisting of Johanna Craig, Antonia Royal-Whitmore, Marshell Davis, Amanda Plaster, Stevie Luy, and Jessica Mordick — have competed throughout the year against the top bowling colleges and universities to prepare themselves. In the nine events they competed in, their crowning achievement was a 2nd place finish in the Warhawk Open in Madison, WI. The team knocked off the top women’s team in the nation (Robert Morris-Illinois) while eventually losing to University of Illinois for the title.

“We are ready to do this,” says women’s coach Thomas Endress. “We have been competitive all season long for the most part, and against schools much bigger than we are. Now it’s time to show our strength against other NJCAA teams, and I like our chances. We have the ability, we just need to focus and bowl like we know we can.”

Endress says the team really has come together throughout the year.

“When we started, we were six good bowlers without any collegiate bowling experience,” continues Endress. “Now we are not only better with the on-lane adjustments, we are a team that works together to finish as high as possible.”

As far as the men’s team, the second semester has certainly been an improvement from the first.

The Cougar Bowling team — consisting of Kyler Jacobson, TJ Eggleston, Evan Johnson, Lucas Korntved, and Nick Cassidy — had a rough early season, but is starting to show signs of success as the regular season concludes. They have been challenged throughout the season competing against some very strong fields in challenging formats to prepare them for a year-end tournament run.

The NJCAA National Bowling Championship begins with practice session on Thursday, February 27, singles and doubles competitions on Friday, February 28, with the team championship on Saturday, March 1 in Buffalo, NY.

And there is more on the horizon for these young programs. It was announced last week that both men’s and women’s teams earned berths into the 2014 National Collegiate Bowling Championships. When the sectional pairings of the top 64 teams in the nation were announced, both Highland teams were placed in the Ft. Worth, TX sectional.

The USBC Collegiate Committee ranks all collegiate bowling teams throughout the year based on their finishes in the events in which they compete. At the season end, the top 64 teams throughout the nation are chosen and then placed in four 16-team sectionals. Those sectionals are in Addison, IL, Nashville, TN, Allentown, PA, and Ft. Worth, TX.

“This is quite an accomplishment for the Highland Bowling teams,” says Jeff Johnson, the proprietor of The 4 Seasons Bowling Center where the Highland Teams practice. “For Highland to accomplish this feat in their first two years — first year for the women’s team — is something the athletes should be proud of. Personally, I knew at some time the Highland Bowling Program would get to this point – I just didn’t think it would be this soon. Now, it’s time to play the underdog role and see how far they can run with this accomplishment.”

The Highland teams will compete in 64 Baker-style games March 15-16 with the top four teams advancing to the National Championship in April in Reno, Nevada.

“What I think is so amazing about this, is that there are only 64teams left out of the many hundreds of bowling colleges and universities throughout the nation,” says Coach Endress. “I am pretty sure we are one of the smallest, if not the smallest, school left in the top 64, which shows just how strong our teams really are. Are we expected to win this thing? No way… but we will do the best we can and knock out whoever we can to show others just who HCC is. This is a great building block for our teams.”

For further details feel free to contact Highland Head Coach Jesse Buss at 815.990.1233 or Lady Cougar Coach Thomas Endress at 815.238.8094.

2998 W. Pearl City Road
Freeport, IL 61032-9341

Fax 815-235-6130

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