GREENSBORO – The North Carolina A&T State University bowling team will open its 2013-14 season on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Hampton Roads Collegiate Bowling Invitational in Chesapeake, Virginia.
“They’re ready to get into it, see what’s going to be out there, and how they’re going to do against the competition,” head coach James Williams said about the season opener. “I’m really looking forward to just seeing their energy levels stay up from beginning to end.”
The Aggies hope to turn out another successful season after posting a 49-48 record and 12-12 mark in the MEAC. It was their first winning season since 2008-09. A&T was recently picked to finish second in the Southern Division of the MEAC in the conference’s preseason poll.
“The preseason ranking is based on last year’s team,” Williams said. “We did get younger this year. But I am expecting us to make the championships. We have a very competitive group. They’re hungry and they want to accomplish some things. Emily Strombeck is really leading them and showing them some good things. I’m expecting a lot from them but I know it will be hard to accomplish some of the things we did last year.”
Strombeck was named to the MEAC preseason team after a stellar freshman year that included a team-high 195 average, being named the A&T Female Rookie of the Year, MEAC Rookie of the Year and earning MEAC all-tournament team and second-team All-MEAC honors.
Joining Strombeck in a leadership role will be senior Courtney Crook and sophomore Najah Owens. Owens turned in an average of 174.3 and rolled a season-high 235 at the Capital Classic last year. Crook had her best performance at the MEAC Conference Meet #2 and finished with a 235. She averaged 167.3 during her junior season.
“Owens did a lot of work over the summer,” Williams explained. “Her game has tremendously improved. I’ve seen a lot of good things in practice. Crook has really stepped into a leadership role over the last few weeks. Everything seems to be going in a positive direction.”
Williams expects his returners to continue to make contributions this season but is also hopeful that some of his newcomers can make an immediate impact.
“Shinn is a gamer,” said Williams. “She really sees the lanes and understands the different drills that we’re going through. Just by making a few tweaks here and there I can already see that her average is going to improve. Robinson’s talent that she has right now is unreal. In my opinion both of them have tremendous upsides and possibly could be rookies of the year.”
The Aggies have been working hard in the offseason and preseason to improve some areas in which they feel is necessary to land another prosperous season.
“Communication, teamwork and just being a cohesive unit are things we have improved on since last season,” Williams said. “I’ve seen a lot of that improvement in practice this year. I’m looking for consistency during the season which starts with this weekend. That was a big problem that we struggled with last year. I want to see consistent spare shooting. We’ve implemented a number of different strategies to help with that but I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the last few days so I’m really looking forward to the weekend to see how it’s going to go.”Following the season-opener A&T will host an Alumni vs. Underclassmen Exhibition meet during Homecoming on Friday, Nov. 1. The Aggies return back to regular season action when they host the MEAC Conference Meet #1 during Nov. 9-10.