While the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament is not until March 2020, both the men’s and women’s bowling teams have been preparing since September. In order to qualify for nationals, as both teams hope to do so again this year, they must participate in 10 tournaments, which are all set up prior to the start of the season. Both teams have bowled at five tournaments, with their next tournament coming this weekend at Pastime Lanes in Hastings.
Head Coach Ron Hergott had a lot of expectations coming into the year for the men’s team and has been encouraged by the results so far. In their last tournament, the team traveled to Davenport, Iowa, where they finished sixth out of 46 teams in points, and fourth in bracket play. The women’s team finished 22nd out of 34 teams.
“You’re only provided so many opportunities in life, take advantage of these opportunities. You know, the men are scoring high enough that the opportunity is there to be one of the elite programs in the country, and that opportunity may not come around again,” Hergott said.
Part of Hergott’s philosophy is to make sure that his players understand that the team camaraderie aspect is very important, and in order to have that they must come to practice prepared every day.
“The women (have to) take advantage of every opportunity we have to get better. I actually added a tournament later in the year in anticipation of the women getting better every week. We’ve always had both teams go to Nationals,” Hergott said.
As the season has gone along, Hergott has been able to rely on a couple bowlers, Junior Trenton Johnston on the men’s team and Sophomore Caitlin Krallis on the women’s team, to help lead and perform well.
“Trenton has just kind of stepped up into that role this year where the guys respect him, because number one, he’s a great guy, and number two, he works incredibly hard at practice, and number three, he’s just a really good bowler,” Hergott said.
Johnston drew praise from Hergott for his performance at the Midwest Collegiate Championships. Johnston did not just win the competition, but he ended up winning by 35 pins, which Hergott described as “unheard of” at a tier one tournament.
“I feel like I’ve become more of a leader on the men’s side. Last year, I kind of had some input, but this year, I feel like I’ve really stepped up and taken control of the men’s side,” Johnston said, whose goal is to be an All-American with a score average of 200.
Krallis recently had one of her best performances of the season, finishing 9th at the Jayhawk Collegiate Challenge. On a team with just one senior, Krallis has had to become one of the leaders this year.
“I’ve had my team watch me and video me and help me figure out how to become more consistent on spares. My spare game has increased fairly a lot since last year. It’s nice to be able to work with my team and have them see what I’m doing wrong instead of going to my coaches all the time,” Krallis said.
Hastings will host one of their two home tournaments, the Bronco Open IIV, this weekend along with 12 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams on Nov. 16 and 17 both days starting at 10 a.m.