EAST GREENSBORO (October 4, 2018) – North Carolina A&T’s bowling team enters the 2018-19 season ranked 11th the National Tenpin Coaches Association Preseason rankings which were released on Thursday. It is the second-highest preseason rankings for the program in school history. The Aggies were the preseason No. 10 team prior to the start of the 2015-16 after winning the school's first-ever national championship (USBC's Intercollegiate Team Championships).
In addition, the Aggies are picked to win the Mid-Eastern Atheltic Conference for the second straight season with 2017-18 MEAC Rookie of the Year Ana Olaya and Cameron Strombeck earning preseason all-conference honors.
“It is encouraging that people are recognizing that our program is getting stronger and stronger every year,” said Kim Terrell-Kearney, who is entering her third season as N.C. A&T's head coach. "We are really excited about the players we brought into the program this season and we are anxious to get started.”
N.C. A&T is coming off of another impressive season after earning a No. 6 seed in the 2018 NCAA tournament. They also won the MEAC championship for the first time in 14 years, and they won the MEAC Southern Division regular-season for the fourth straight season. There will not be a fifth straight MEAC Southern Division title, however. The MEAC has eliminated divisional play and placed all 11 teams under one umbrella.
The Aggies were picked to be the best among those teams through votes submitted by sports information directors and head coaches. N.C. A&T got 10 first-place votes, while six voters picked Maryland Eastern Shore to win the conference. Delaware State snagged four first-place votes. Morgan State and one of the newest members Monmouth received one vote apiece.
The MEAC's other new member, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, was picked to finish fourth. "We are honored to be the preseason favorite," said Terrell-Kearney. "We hope to start where we left off last year and the goal is to get better every day."
Nationally, defending national champion Vanderbilt is the preseason No. 1 followed by national runner-up McKendree. Those two teams are followed by Nebraska, Sam Houston State, Arkansas State, Stephen F. Austin, MDES, Delaware State, Farleigh Dickinson and Tulane in the top-10. The NCAA tournament championships have expanded the field from eight to 12 teams for the 2018-19 tournament. Eight conference tournament champions will receive an automatic bid including the MEAC champion. Four teams will earn at-large bids to round out the field. Four teams will be placed in the championship bracket while eight teams will participate in opening-round matches with the winners making it to the championship bracket.
Individually, Olaya and Strombeck had incredible freshman seasons. Each bowler received a bowler of the week honor from the conference last season. The pair shared anchor bowler duties throughout the season with both showing up big when needed. Olaya led the team with a 197.38 average. Strombeck was a close second with a 194.76 average.
"We are excited Olaya and Strombeck are receiving this recognition," said Terrell-Kearney. "They both have put in a lot of work this offseason and are ready to do great things."
The Aggies will get their season rolling with the Tulane Sugar Bowl Invitational, Oct. 19-21, in Harahan, La.