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Waldorf appears for first postseason appearance

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

ADDISON, Ill. – It’s been a monumental season for the Waldorf College men’s bowling team. Clinching a postseason berth for the first time in school history, the Warriors are set to compete in this weekend’s United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Sectional Tournament.

“The team has shown a lot of determination to bridge the gap and advance to the next level of competition,” Waldorf coach Joe Squires said.

The Warriors won their first-ever tournament, capturing first place in the Stout State Open on Oct. 24-25 at Menomonie, Wis. They then earned their second straight tournament title in the Jayhawk Collegiate Challenge on Nov. 7-8 at Lawrence, Kan. Everyone on the team has bought into working hard to elevate the program to the next level.

“We changed the team mentality during competitions to empower each athlete that competes,” Squires said. “The mentality to win two tournaments is mountainous and arduous, especially when we are the low qualifying team.”

Waldorf ended the regular season ranked No. 45 out of approximately 200 teams in the nation. It’s the highest ranking in school history and comes just one year after finishing 83rd nationally. Advancing to the postseason is a significant step forward for a program that is in its sixth year of competition.

“This is a huge turning point for the program as it shows the level the program has reached,” Squires said. “It’s a staple for other future Warriors looking to come to Waldorf. It also shows some recognition to the current bowlers as they have put in the work.”

Caleb Bain leads the Warriors with a 191.5 average this season. The senior from Cottage Grove, Minn. rolled a 1,063-pin total to earn third place and all-tournament team honors while guiding Waldorf to a third-place finish in the Viterbo V-Hawk Invitational on Jan. 23-24 at La Crosse, Wis.

“Caleb has been a strong anchor for us and has been a leader working to change the team mentality,” Squires said.

Senior Tony Manna has also played a role in pushing the team in the right direction while sporting a 185.7 average.

“Tony has been a leader by helping to read the lane and provide feedback to other bowlers,” Squires said.

Senior Matthew Truman owns a 170.1 average on the season. Not only has he provided on the lanes, but has also worked behind the scenes to pitch in and do anything he can to assist the program.

“He has stepped up to bowl better when the team needs it,” Squires said.

Junior Nicholas Heimerman is second on Waldorf’s team with a 188.1 average and has contributed to the positive team morale.

“He has helped lead the team by bowling well and adding another dynamic to team mentality by keeping bowlers upbeat,” Squires said.

Roger Harford owns a 184.2 average on the year and Kyle Swiderski is currently averaging 179.7.

“Roger has stepped up as a freshman to fill the void we had by transferring bowlers,” Squires said. “Kyle has also come in as a freshman and bowled really well in his first year.”

The Warriors have also received strong contributions from senior Darrick Marcks, sophomore Michael Templin, freshmen Damon Helgevold, Tanner Schmitz and Tyler Doss throughout the season.

“It has been a pleasure to coach this group as their work attitude has been great,” Squires said.

Squires, who’s in his first season as Waldorf’s head coach, said the team complements his coaching and that both parties gain invaluable knowledge from one another.

“We are both learning together how to make the team better,” Squires said. “Rather than just telling these bowlers what to do, we discuss the matter and what changes to make. They definitely like to have fun while bowling, which also helps to alleviate any stress.”

The Warriors open the USBC Intercollegiate Singles Championships Qualifier on Friday, starting at 8:30 a.m. at Stardust Bowl of Addison. Individuals will bowl six games and the top four finishers move on to the finals.

Waldorf then competes in the USBC Intercollegiate Team Sectionals on Saturday, beginning the two-day tournament at 8:30 a.m. Twenty-five teams will compete in a 64-game baker format and the top four teams advance to the national tournament.

“The atmosphere will be intense as this is a baker tournament only,” Squires said. “Team mentality will be huge for the long weekend.”

Waldorf’s bowlers know that ups and downs are expected in any tournament. In the sport of bowling, there’s only so much that competitors control.

“The problem with bowling is that you may do everything right and just not have the pin action to help,” Squires said. “The breaks just might not come for that weekend.”

Making a statement at sectionals is the goal for the Warriors, who are ready to make the most of their first postseason appearance.

“We have no direct control over the breaks we may or may not get,” Squires said. “If we consistently hit our marks and make proper adjustments, I’ll certainly be happy.”