GREENSBORO – The 20th-ranked North Carolina A&T bowling team will head to one of its biggest tournaments of the season when it competes in the Kutztown Invitational, beginning on Friday, January 24 at Hiester Lanes.
The three-day tournament features a field of 28 teams, which includes 15 of the 20 nationally-ranked programs in the country. The ranked teams participating are No. 2 UMES, No. 4 Stephen F. Austin, No. 5 Fairleigh Dickinson, No. 7 Wisconsin-Whitewater, No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Kutztown, No. 11 St. Francis-PA, No. 12 Sacred Heart, No. 13 Adelphi, No. 14 Delaware State, No. 15 St. Francis-Brooklyn, No. 17 Valparaiso, No. 18 Monmouth, and No. 19 Long Island.
A&T (29-10 overall) made its first-ever appearance in the NTCA Media Poll back in December and although they’ve faced and defeated nationally-ranked teams before, this time may feel a bit different.
“Honestly the competing part won’t be any different,’ head coach James Williams said. “Personally it’s a surreal feeling. Once we got over the initial shock, we realized that we had to go back to work. We had to readjust a lot of our goals, being that one of them was to be nationally-ranked. The team has been working hard since they’ve been back. We’re just looking forward to seeing what happens this weekend.”
The Aggies haven’t hit the lanes since the MEAC meet on Dec. 8 where they were led by sophomore Emily Strombeck who averaged a pinfall of 208.5 in traditional team games. Freshman MacKenzie Robinson also performed well and tabbed an average of 199.75. Sophomores Briana Jackson (215) and Najah Owens (217), along with freshman Kristin Shinn (215) also rolled high-games over 200.
Other teams competing will be New Jersey City, Norfolk State, Morgan State, Bethune-Cookman, N.C. Central, Coppin State, Salem International, Howard, Pitt-Bradford, Medaille, Penn State-Altoona, Cheyney, and Mount Aloysius.
“This tournament will give us a barometer of where we are,” Williams said. “Coming back from the break I definitely want to see where we stack up against everybody in preparation for the MEAC tournament.”