GREENSBORO (October 24, 2017) – The Aggies are ready to begin their 2017-2018 bowling season. They enter the season ranked No. 18 in the National Tenpin Coaches Association poll.
At the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season, they lost two seniors in MacKenzie Robinson and Kristin Shinn leaving only senior Brianna Boze on the team from the 2015 USBC national championship team and the 2016 team that made the NCAA tournament and finished third.
Boze’s veteran leadership will be needed because she will be surrounded by three freshmen and and three sophomores going into the 2017-18 season. But the Aggies freshmen class from a year ago – Tyra Merritt, Mia Pope and Kayli Christ – were solid contributors. Incoming freshmen – Cameron Strombeck, Candyce Bradley and Ana Olaya – are very talented. Threfore, the Aggies are not expecting too much of a dropoff.
“With my incoming freshmen, we have three really strong players that I imagine will have an impact rather quickly,” said second-year N.C. A&T coach Kim Terrell-Kearney. “Ana Olaya has competed on the international stage, bowling for team Columbia, so I know what she looks like in competition. The other two freshmen I have seen in national competitions here in the states and both have proven to be more talented than I had envisioned.”
Olaya competed on the national level for her country. She comes to Aggieland with a career average of 226. Her career high is 279, and she has a high series of 760. At the age of 8, she made the El Rancho club team, leading her to represent her hometown of Bogota. She started representing her country at 14 years old. Bradley led all Oakland County bowlers with a 208.66 average in league games as a senior. She won the Oakland County tournament, and she finished sixth at the Oakland Activities Association singles and 13th at regionals. She led the conference in scoring average four times and was a four-time first-team all-conference performer.
Strombeck is known for putting together certified 300 games during her youth career. She also played in the Junior Gold Championships.
The sophomores were led by Pope who averaged 177.19 last season followed by Merritt’s 169.90 and Christ’s 160.44.
In losing Robinson and Shinn, the team lost their leadoff and anchor bowlers. In this first tournament, Terrell-Kearney will be able to see who is going to step up to fill those spots. She is anxious to see how they play together in competition and how the freshmen will handle the pressure of playing in college. The team has worked extremely hard this summer to be prepared to come back from their MEAC championship loss from last season.
“ In the first tournament, the field is strong and I want to see what the team looks like, so I don’t have any strong expectations other than I just want to see where we stand as a team,” said Terrell-Kearney.
N.C. A&T will start their season at the Brunswick Bearcat Open in Fairview Heights, Ill. The tournament will feature the nation’s top eight teams with No. 1 and defending NCAA national champion McKendree followed by Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Arkansas State, Sam Houston State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Stephen F. Austin, and Fairleigh Dickenson. Tournament host McKendree and Nebraska battled for the national title last season.
Despite their youth, the Aggies were picked to win the MEAC for the fourth straight season. N.C. A&T has won the past three MEAC Southern Division titles. Their first MEAC meet will be held Nov. 11-12 in Chesapeake, Va.