CHESAPEAKE, Va.—The North Carolina A&T bowling team’s quest for the fifth MEAC championship title in progam history came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the Aggies were eliminated from the tournament after losing two matches to nationally-ranked opponents at the AMF Lanes in Chesapeake, Va.
But A&T head coach James Williams was proud of the way his team (49-48, 12-12) finished their first winning season since 2008-09.
“I could not have asked for anything more than what my girls gave me today," he said. "They left everything out on the lanes. No one expected us to be here, except us. I’m extremely proud of the effort today.”
On Friday, The Aggies earned a No. 4 seed for the double-elimination, best-of-seven Bakers tournament.
They opened action on Saturday against fifth-seed Norfolk State, who won the 2012 MEAC tournament. The Aggies swept the Spartans, who are ranked No. 11 in the nation by the National Tenpin Coaches Association. A&T had two games over 200 in the match to help them advance to the second round to take on the two-time defending NCAA champions Maryland Eastern Shore.
“Today was just an embodiment of the season--the trials and tribulations that we have faced all season," said Williams. "All the lessons that this young team went through, I saw today--knowing how to finish out a match when you have the opponent on the ropes, how to continue to stay competitive the entire match, and having that never say die attitude when you need to make a comeback."
The Hawks, who are currently ranked third in the nation, won the first three games. But A&T took the fourth, 182-171, to avoid being swept. The Hawks won the fifth bakers match 207-182 to overcome the Aggies.
A&T, facing elimination from the tournament, then took on No. 20 Bethune-Cookman. The Wildcats won the first three games. The Aggies rebounded and won the fourth game 184-159, and took the fifth by 169-167. But B-CU won the sixth game, 171-157, to eliminate the Aggies.
“All season, I’ve talked to the girls about having ‘competitive greatness,’” said Williams. “There are a number of building blocks and mortars that make up the ‘competitive greatness’, but the two that I constantly preached were poise and confidence. And I can honestly say that they maintained their poise all day, and the definitely entered every match with confidence. And though we didn’t reach our final goal, we did reach a number of different ones along the way this season.”
Among those goals were to give senior Amber Brown a chance to compete in the tournament to finish her career.
“I’m so glad that [Amber] and I accomplished this goal together," said Williams. "She’s been with me through those bad years and to finally give her an opportunity to taste this atmosphere was great.”
The Aggies will return their four underclassmen next season, including rising seniors Cherise Poole and Courtney Crook and rising sophomores Najah Owens and Emily Strombeck, the current MEAC Rookie of the Year.