Sam Houston State’s bowling team closed out the 2013-14 season with a national championship to its name.
The Bearkats enter the new season looking to fill holes and maintain focus after losing four of the original players from the squad.
“We as a program always strive to set the bar high and figure out how we cannot only obtain it but surpass it,” head coach Brad Hagan. “Winning the national championship adds a new level of excitement, standards and energy level to the program that the returnees plan on following through with at a new level and the first year ladies adopting.”
Hagen has been the SHSU bowling coach since 2009 and has brought an attitude that is extremely contagious to winning. Excuses are not an option with this team, and Hagen pushes SHSU to play to a high standard for the team to aim for every time they hit the alleys.
A top priority for Hagen will not be to get his returning players ready. It may be the new faces that will need step up for the team.
Juniors Anna Groce and Erin Brown will be back for another letter year for the Bearkats, as well as redshirt sophomore Janine Kuwahara and lone senior Rebecca Pittser. Newcomer redshirt junior Carrie Hopkinson transferred from Florida A&M, via Ontario, Canada and looks to add a spark to the club. Three freshmen round out the roster for the Bearkats including Heather Penatzler, Stephanie Zavala and Emily Notebaert, all with impressive credentials from their respective high school seasons and summer showcases.
“Adding excellent talent to the team each year really doesn’t change our approach in regards to philosophies at all,” Hagan said. “It may change how we get to the same results but the approach doesn’t change.”
SHSU was selected third in the preseason Tin Pin Coaches Association Poll behind Nebraska and Arkansas State. Conference foe and notorious rival Stephen F. Austin State snuck in the top ten at 9th, receiving 200 points less in the poll standings than SHSU.
The team is scheduled for ten tournaments this season, including the SHSU-hosted TRACK Kat Klash held in Houston, but begin play in their opening tournament this Friday.
“We need to come out of the gate swinging this fall to build up as much momentum as possible,” Hagan said. “We have a gauntlet of a tournament schedule in November that starts in [New Jeresey] and ends at our home event in Houston.”
SHSU will first roll Friday at the Tulane Invitational in New Orleans, La.