WICHITA, KAN. – In its first appearance in a national championship, the North Carolina A&T women’s bowling team didn’t disappoint.
The Aggies were crowned the 2015 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Intercollegiate Team Champions, Saturday afternoon with a 3-1 win over Robert Morris at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kansas.
The ITC, first contested in 1975, is the pinnacle event of the college bowling season. The ITC brings together the top 16 men's and top 16 women's teams in the country to compete for national titles. They are mostly the top teams who came up short in their conference championsips. USBC is the national governing body of bowling as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee.
“Accomplishing this goal was huge,” said head coach James Williams whose team finished the season 74-37. “With all of the individual awards from this year, it is awesome that the team accomplished this because no one ever remembers the individual accomplishments. But they remember the best team. This is something that no one can take from us. We will forever be national champions.”
Several Aggies have stepped up in clutch situations the enire season. On Saturday, those players were junior Rakia Jenkins, sophomore Kristin Shinn and sophomore MacKenzie Robinson who threw a strike in the last game for the win.
“I felt as though the team bowled really well this weekend,” said Robinson. “There were times when it came down to the wire but we persevered. The team picked each other up when we needed it the most. Now that we won we can see the improvements of this team and look forward to next season.”
“It’s an unbelievable experience, especially being down in the beginning when we lost by one pin,” Shinn said. “We definitely battled and bought everyone’s spirits up and pulled out a great game the next round. We stayed on top and never gave up. Our first time bowling in the ITC and we come out as champions is something no one will ever forget.”
A&T’s road to the ITC title started when it won the ITC Sectionals in March. At the championship, A&T was seeded sixth after 24 qualifying games and defeated McKendree 4-2 and St. Francis twice by scores of 4-0 in bracket play to appear in the championship against Robert Morris.
“The season started off a little rough being new and having to get acclimated to my new surroundings,” said Jenkins, a junior transfer. “I believe we all had a little adjusting to do to each other but over time we got into the swing of things and we came together for a common goal. Every time we bowled, we bowled for each other, A&T, and respect. We accomplished a lot this year and we hope to accomplish more next season. I have grown as a person and we have grown as a team, one we can all be proud of.”
“This group of young ladies is special,” Williams said. “They grew so much over this year and I’m extremely proud of them. They have worked so hard this season and they committed to the grind every day. I couldn’t have asked for anything else. Being a national champion is a rather big deal. We have been fighting for respect for the last three years. This shows we are dedicated and committed to winning and building a winning program.”