SHSU bowling set the bar higher in 2013

The team has only existed for four years, but that hasn’t stopped it from being just as big a threat as any other team in the nation.

Sam Houston State University’s bowling team has made itself a dominating figure in the NCAA, seeded No. 6 coming into its 2013-2014 campaign.

The Bearkats have established a streak of being ranked in the top 10 since the second poll of their inaugural season.

“We’ve set the bars for ourselves,” head coach Brad Hagan said. “It’s important to maintain that kind of competitive mentality. The biggest thing to continue to raise the bar for us is consistency.”

The team finished last season with an impressive seventh-place performance in the NCAA 2013 Elite Eight tournament, but this season the team is looking to raise the bar even higher.

With the return of seniors Neishka Cardona and Kimi Davidson leading the squad and the addition of key players like Erin Brown and Becca Pitser supplying high numbers, the team is narrowing its scope to make SHSU athletics history.

“We’re working hard on and off the lanes to stay together and be a good team and have the chemistry it takes to make it there,” Cardona said.

But SHSU has to approach the season one tournament at a time. Making it to nationals isn’t sufficient enough for SHSU, Hagan said. He added that after two seventh-place finishes in three years, it’s time to finish even higher.

In the first tournament of their 2013 campaign, the Bearkats had a heartbreaking second place finish to rival No. 9 Stephen F. Austin in the All State Sugar Bowl Collegiate Invitational in October. Although Brown, Cardona and Pitser claimed spots in the All-Tournament team, it wasn’t enough to claim the top seed for the consecutive season.

SHSU hopes to rebound from the tough loss by getting the win when they travel to the East Coast to compete at the Farleigh Dickinson University Jamboree Invitational in Hackensack, N.J., Friday through Sunday.

Hagan and his squad reiterated their focus to make a statement in the tournament they’ve placed third in two out of three years.

“Our big competition is that East Coast and central region battle of who’s better and who has been around longer,” he said. “We’re not trying to prove to anybody anything, but we want to prove to people indirectly that though this is our fourth year, this is not a fluke. We are a consistent and competitive team.”

However, this season isn’t all about the trophies for SHSU, the team said.

The team wants to become more recognized from their peers on campus. But even if it’s one of the less-known teams on campus, it won’t stop them from striding on with their roll, Hagan said.

“I appreciate everybody’s support and we are becoming more popular within the general population, but at the end of the day our objectives are to bowl and compete and win,” Hagan said. “And if people want to jump on our bandwagon, we’ll appreciate it and if not, they’re missing out on a good opportunity to be a part of a championship caliber program.”

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