Both teams are ranking well in the team power ranking polls: The men’s team is currently ranked 24 in the nation and the women are ranked fifth nationwide.
“The girls are so far doing what they should be doing. Quite honestly, they are one of the best teams in the country,” said Billy Murphy, head coach for both the men’s and women’s bowling teams. “Their lowest finish this year was fourth in eight tournaments. We are very upper classman-loaded this year, and they’ve bowled a lot together over the last three years.”
The athletes most recently returned from Las Vegas where they played in two tournaments — the Glenn Carlson Invitational hosted by Fresno State and the Collegiate Shoot-Out hosted by an independent tournament organizer.
Bowling four days in Vegas proved to be a successful run for both teams. The women finished second in both tournaments and the men finished third in the Glen Carlson Invitational and second in the Collegiate Shoot-Out.
Freshman Leanne Vastbinder came away from the week with a spot on the all-tournament team with an average of 219.5 during the six games of the Collegiate Shoot-Out.
The season is far from over with six more appearances to make. Murphy said he knows the bowlers are all in a good place mentally.
“I don’t think that we have peaked yet,” said Murphy. “I think that we’re still moving upwards. The guys bowled exceptional in Vegas. They really hadn’t performed at that level yet this year, and it was good to see them progress and see some good results on the work they have done so far.”
Murphy continued by stating the teams are both doing very well this year, but there are still some improvements to be made.
“We’re going to make post-season the way we’re going,” he said, “but we just need to keep getting better. We always talk about just getting better every day.
“We do things pretty well, but it’s just attention to detail, sometimes that gets away from us, and just doing the little things to make sure we’re successful. Our patience is sometimes not as great as I would like it. But they seem to work through it very well.”
Murphy has dedicated much of his life to bowling. He bowled at Wichita State University in the late 1980s and early ’90s then continued the sport as a career, traveling the country bowling in amateur leagues.
He soon opened his own business, Wichita Bowling Supply, which now has two locations.
“While doing that, I was coaching at Wichita Heights High School,” said Murphy. “I did that for four years when Newman came and asked me to interview for this job. We started the program and 15 years later, here we are.”
Murphy said he’s excited to see how far the teams will go this season, and the seniors are especially enjoying their last season of collegiate bowling.
“They (the team members) are all in the mindset now that they can get to nationals. I know we have three seniors on the girls’ side and a couple on the guys’ side, so it’s their last run at this. They’re excited and their mindsets are really positive because they feel like they have a chance to get to nationals and win.”