Jets bowling: A season of pins, strikes and near-misses

Apr 11, 2024
Newman's women bowling team smiling

As pins fell and scores soared, Newman University’s men’s and women’s bowling teams showcased their prowess on the lanes during their 2023-24 season.

Although their journey fell short of the teams’ season-long aspirations, a handful of Jets received accolades recognizing their talent and efforts.

On the women’s team, junior Kensley Morris was named 1st team all-conference in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). Freshman Alexis Shea was named 2nd team all-GLVC, as well as the National Tenpin Coaches Association DII Rookie of the Year.

Shea was surprised when she found out she made the all-conference team.

“I was genuinely shocked when my name got announced because I was not expecting it,” Shea said. “The only people that knew I was being announced were my coaches. My team and family were very excited.”

The freshman doesn’t define her season by the end result.

“I see the season as a success not only because of where we reached but also behind the scenes. The girls have come closer together.”

The men’s team had four Jets who finished in the top 53 players in the country in averages, with Noah Akiona placing 24th, Cole Munley 31st, Silas Limes 36th, and Zach Smullen was 53rd.

“It has been a long time — if ever — having that many, that high in the top group,” Coach Billy Murphy said enthusiastically.

Not only did sophomore Smullen place in the top 53 players, he also bowled a 300 game in the opening game of the singles competition at sectionals in Fort Worth, Texas. Smullen finished fourth in the individual competition.

“I was feeling pretty confident,” Smullen said after his 300 game. “My teammates were trying their best to keep me calm and remind me to stay focused.”

Smullen completing and reacting to his 300 game

The pressure continued to build up as Smullen got strike after strike, frame after frame.

“It was very relieving to get that final strike,” Smullen said. “There is a sense of pressure that builds up over the course of the game so it feels very rewarding to complete it.”

Regardless of the men’s and women’s teams not reaching their post-season goals, the athletes represented themselves and Newman in great fashion.

“This coaching staff is very proud of our athletes and how they represent our program,” Murphy said.

The bowling squads have eight seniors in total graduating this year, but Murphy has confidence in his young teams.

“This team is really young and their journey is still being written,” Murphy said. “These young people have done all we have asked them to do and I know they are ready for the next step.”

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