Feb. 22, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- The Fayetteville State Lady Broncos went into the highly-regarded Morgan State Invitational seeking a learning experience.
They came out with respect.
While the Lady Broncos came away from the tournament with a 3-7 record, five of those losses came in close matches with teams ranked 13th or better in the national poll. Two of those matches -- against No. 2 Sacred Heart and No. 6 Central Missouri - could've gone either way. Fayetteville State (51-13) led both matches entering the 10th frame.
"I thought we were outstanding," says Lady Broncos coach Bobby Henderson, who recently led Fayetteville State to its 600th win, the most in CIAA history. "Especially when you consider who we bowled against, I have no complaints."
The Lady Broncos' performance raised eyebrows around the lanes. And with those eyebrows being raised on the national level, Fayetteville State is marking its place on the collegiate bowling map.
"I had coaches come up to me after matches and say, `We're voting for you guys in national rankings now,'" says Henderson. "They're telling me, `You guys can really bowl.'"
Not bad for a team that was limited with two of its top players fighting illness.
Of the 23 teams at the tournament, which included several Division-1 schools like Fairleigh Dickinson, Vanderbilt and Nebraska (those teams made up the top three in total pinfall), Fayetteville State finished 15th. That was better than teams like Howard, North Carolina Central and CIAA foe Virginia State, which was 22nd.
The Lady Broncos nearly came away with the biggest upsets of the tournament, falling by just 20 pins, 948-928, to second-ranked Sacred Heart and by the score of 857-839 to sixth-ranked Central Missouri. Fayetteville State also came close in Baker matches against No. 11 Norfolk State (742-665), No. 13 Delaware State (768-738) and No. 12 New Jersey City (746-662).
"We gave everybody a run," says Henderson. "We never got blown out. We kept pace with everybody."
Several Lady Broncos' players performed well, with CIAA Southern Division Bowler of the Month Kiara Reid (Jr., Rocky Mount, N.C.) finishing 44th overall out of nearly 140 total bowlers with a 184.4 average. Freshman Crystal Mujica (Fayetteville, N.C.) gained valuable experience and performed well, finishing 66th overall with a 169.8 average. Daisy Weishman (Jr., Fayetteville, N.C.) had a 168 average while Kelly Wakerhauser(Sr., Portage, Wis.) added a 168 average.
Also for the Lady Broncos, Megan Maynor (Fr., Fayetteville, N.C.), who rolled FSU's highest game at 203, added a 174.5 average while De'Andrea Bethea (So., Raleigh, N.C.) had a 172 average.
And Fayetteville State picked up team wins in the process. But Henderson feels like they learned much more valuable lessons as the Lady Broncos prepare to defend their CIAA title at next month's Bowling Championships in Durham.
"This tournament helps us out in the long run," Henderson says. "This was like the championship atmosphere. It was loud, it was a grueling run of matches, and we played great competition. It was a big weekend for us."