Bowling team returns from trip to Nationals

The Minnesota State bowling team returned home from the National Championships this past weekend, placing in the bottom fourth of 24 teams. Contrary to popular belief, the bowling team plays at the highest level of collegiate bowling possible and successfully made it to Nationals this year. Much about the Maverick bowling team is unknown, but the Bullpen is home to the team’s practices where many of the members on the team act as staff members to keep the alleys in good shape.

There is a minimum requirement of matches the team has to play in order to be eligible for Nationals, and the Mavericks are one of two teams in the state of Minnesota that even compete in collegiate bowling. MSU is the only competitive one, being the only team who participates in the required amount of matches to make the playoffs. 

There are zero bowling bouts in the state for the Mavs to participate in, so they rely on traveling to states like Wisconsin and Illinois for most of their competitions. The team’s season started in the fall, where the team participated in the Midwest Collegiate Championships in Wauwatosa, Wisc. back in October. 

From there, they competed in 11 other competitions before competing in Nationals. The team was more excited than ever to finally be able to compete in the national tournament, which not only required a minimum number of matches but also a minimum number of bowlers on the roster.  Kyle Bischoff, program coordinator of the Maverick Bullpen and advisor for the team, was incredibly proud of how the team handled this season.

“Since COVID we had a three-year gap. We did have a team that had a little momentum going, we had a lot of building happen and then boom, COVID. It put a stop to it. We do have a young team in a sense of rebuilding because a lot of the previous members, that are now some of our successors, decided to move on and graduate and not wait those years to continue to compete. So really we have, besides Ryan [Wilson], a brand new team. They have done a great job of meshing and getting to know each other,” said Bischoff.

Without the addition of junior Dylan Engel midseason, the team would not have been eligible to compete again this year. Instead, the addition sent the team to Nationals and helped the team gain confidence going into next year. Junior Ryan Wilson described the trip saying, “We were really close in a lot of our pool games which helped with a young team, with the experience of getting there. So next time when we go, we can do better.”

Experience and confidence were the most important factors for the bowling team’s success this season, and helped the team members make some of their best memories of bowling to date. Engel’s favorite memory came against the University of Whitewater at a competition in Wausau, Wisc.

“When we played against [Whitewater] we beat them in one of four games. It’s not enough to get us the full point and the victory, but that morale build that we had and the emotional feeling that we can beat one of the highest teams that we compete against, felt so huge and emotionally empowering to beat someone on that high of a level.”

Most importantly, it is about watching the Maverick bowlers grow as people for Bischoff, who watches each member of the team not only grow as a student athlete but also as a human being. 

“The thing that I enjoy most is probably watching the bowlers improve,” explained Bischoff. “It’s amazing to watch freshmen come in, or whatever year they joined the team, come in and watch them progress and improve both on and off the lane. Again, a lot of our bowlers end up working at the Bullpen so it’s fun to see them grow in all aspects of their lives and career.”

Header Photo: Junior bowler Jacob Otto attempts to bowl a strike at Nationals. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Kole Buelow at kole.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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