The Sam Houston State University women’s bowling team is one of the most successful athletic programs on campus. In just a nine-year tenure, the program saw a National Championship in 2014, and semi-finalist appearances in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Head coach Brad Hagen has created a championship culture in his time at SHSU. One major difference between Hagen’s first eight years and now is the addition of an on-campus bowling facility, which is now available to the team for regular practices.
A big part of the team’s success in recent years is senior Madysen Keller. Keller made headlines last season when she bowled a 300 for the Bearkats at the Sugar Bowl tournament in October 2017. Keller, now a senior, is hoping that the 2018-19 Bearkats can be remembered as a special team. “This is really hard for me,” Keller said. “I’m glad I get to see the new lanes. I’m glad I get to be a part of it, but it’s really sad that it’s coming to an end for me.”
The bowling team is the most traveled team on campus. Already this season the Bearkats have traveled to Wisconsin, Delaware and Pennsylvania for tournaments. “It’s a mental and physical grind.” Hagen said. “I joke with people because we are the most seasoned, traveled team in our athletic department. We [are]on our feet for six, seven eight hours a day. I tell our administration that’s the easy part. The tough part is leaving at 3 a.m.”
The team is constantly tested as a member of the Southland Bowling League (SBL), which currently places four teams in the NCAA’s Top 10. SHSU is ranked No. 6 in the country alongside SBL foes like No. 3 Vanderbilt University, No. 4 Arkansas State University and No. 10 Stephen F. Austin State University. “The crazy thing about the (SBL) is that we literally created a juggernaut of a conference,” Hagen said. “It works out well for us because we have some very elite competition.”
With the SBL championships just over two months away, the Bearkats will look to get the ball rolling as they head towards the stretch run of their season.