GREENSBORO-Exhibitions are a helpful way for athletes and coaches to gauge their state of readiness for competition. For the North Carolina A&T bowling team, this year's exhibition was also a fun way to not only see how they look for this season, but how they stack up to the legends of the bowling program.
On Saturday afternoon at Spare Time Lanes, the North Carolina A&T bowling team hosted its first ever Lady Aggie Alumni Challenge, pitting their five current players against five letterwinners, including some athletes who helped bring the 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 MEAC Championship titles home to Greensboro.
The A&T letterwinners were represented by April Terry (Class of 2012), Amanda Stone (Class of 2005), Michelle Hanna (Class of 2005), Danielle Hanna (Class of 2007), and Courtney Stith (Class of 2003).
The alumni won 12 of the 15 individual games and bested the Aggies in bakers play 4-2. The alumni gave his Aggies a taste of the level of competition they'll face in their upcoming tournament in Tulane
"They're a championship-caliber team," said A&T head coach James Williams of the alumni group, adding that he was proud of the performance of his team. "Like we were saying to the girls afterwards, they bowled against a national title contender right now."
And the Aggies appreciated the level of talent and skill displayed by the alumni. Both junior Cherise Poole and freshman Emily Strombeck said that they had not expected the alumni to be as competitive as they were on Saturday.
"I expected their skill level to be lower than that," Poole said. "They came out the box hard." To which Strombeck added: "But that's what we need. We need competition that way so that we can be prepared for that when we go to our tournaments."
For the alumni, who know firsthand what it takes to earn a MEAC Championship, Saturday was a great opportunity for them to give back to the program and help share their winning experience.
"They've got a lot of potential. They've just got to stay motivated and hungry, and don't let the hits knock them out. They've just got to stay strong," Stith added.
In individual play, the alumni and undergraduates went 5-on-5 and played in three games apiece, rotating after each game. For the undergraduates, Strombeck won a pair of games, defeating Stith 190-138, and defeating Danielle Hanna 204-171. Poole picked up the other win for the Aggies, defeating Stith 204-181.
The alumni and undergraduates then faced off for bakers competition to decide the winner of the Challenge. The bakers competition was close, and many cries of "Aggie Pride" rang out after strikes and key spares for both teams. After a back-and-forth found the two tied at two wins apiece, the Alumni won the fifth game 185-184, aided by a strike from Stone in the 10th frame.
The Alumni followed that with a 217-171 victory in the sixth game to win bakers play behind four straight strikes in the middle frames and a strong finish by Stone. Williams said that the experience will help his Aggies in the regular season.
"The bakers I was really expecting it to go seven, and it went six," Williams said. "It showed that they didn't quit. They missed a couple pins at the end of Game 5 that turned the tables, but again, it's a learning experience."
The Aggies will open up the 2012-13 season by competing in the Tulane Collegiate Bowling Invitational in New Orleans from Oct. 19-21. The Aggies will take on six of the Top 20 schools ranked by the National Tenpin Coaches Association Preseason poll in the Invitational.