GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T bowling program announced the signing of five talented bowlers to join the Aggies for the 2012-13 season.
"All in all, the coaching staff is really excited about this year, really excited about what [the recruits are] bringing to the table, and knowing that this is the first step in returning A&T back to winning MEAC championships, which is what we used to do quite often," said A&T head coach James Williams, referring to the Aggies previous four MEAC titles, the last one occurring during the 2003-04 season.
Joining the Aggies this fall are freshmen Najah Owens (Sanderson, Knightdale, N.C.), Briana Jackson (Davie County, Winston-Salem, N.C.), Emily Strombeck (Kestrel Heights School, Durham, N.C.) and Khadijah Clark (West Johnston, Garner, N.C.) and junior college transfer Courtney Crook (GTCC, Jamestown, N.C.)
Three of the recruits-Owens, Strombeck, and Crook-have qualified for the 2012 North Pointe Junior Gold Championships, a national tournament for the top youth bowlers in the country which was held July 14-21 in Indiana. Youth bowlers have an opportunity to earn a spot on the USA Junior Team at the tournament as well.
"For this coming season, we were looking for spare consistency, we were looking at approach consistency as far as if you are able to reproduce the same thing over and over again, and just basically overall talent with the releasing of the ball, generating revolutions and just making sure that you are able to make a quality shot and leave yourself a makeable spare," Williams said. "We were able to get that with each one of the girls. But each one also brings her own special piece to those things."
Each of the ladies has competed in state youth leagues and travel leagues because of the lack of organized high school bowling in North Carolina, Williams said. He added that his recruits have run across each other in these tournaments as opponents. Now they will join forces in an effort to lead the Aggies back to MEAC dominance.
Owens earned plenty of accolades in competition over the last two years. She earned a top-10 finish in the 2012 N.C. State High School Bowling Championship in individual play for Sanderson High School. She also helped her league team garner a first-place team finish in the All-Stars Interstate Tournament, and as an individual she earned first place in the High Game at the Sectional Pepsi Tournament, a third place finish in the 2012 State Pepsi Tournament, and a second place finish in the 2012 N.C. State Youth Championship Tournament with a 2,010 score. She also earned a first-place finish in the 2011 Premier Junior Gold Tournament, which allowed her to compete in the Nationals and North Point Tournament in Las Vegas in July 2011. She also had a strong high school career in varsity golf as well.
"With Najah, she has a quiet assassin-type demeanor. She's very focused, very raw in talent and just has a tremendous upside," Williams said, adding that she'll be a major asset in bakers play with her accuracy.
Williams is also excited about Strombeck's accuracy. She took first place in the 2012 N.C. United States Bowling Congress Association Pepsi Youth Championship Finals, and finished fifth in the 2011 N.C. USBC Pepsi Youth Championship Finals. She also finished ninth in the 2012 N.C. USBCA Youth Championship Tournament with a 1,786 score. At home, she has a collection of rings that the North Carolina State Association of the USBC gave her commemorating her 300 game performances. She also played women's basketball in high school.