St. Ambrose picked a great time to win its first-ever men's bowling team championship.
In their fourth year as an intercollegiate varsity program at SAU, the Fighting Bees took home their first team victory by winning the Midwest Collegiate Conference crown after a rough start Sunday morning, while the SAU women took second at the MCC Championships competed at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque, Iowa.
On Saturday, the Bees were led by Joe Kopera who finished second individually, averaging a 224.17. St. Ambrose would go into Sunday in second place, 90 pins behind William Penn University. Kyle Anderson also bowled all six games Saturday and averaged 195.50 on the day.
The first 12 baker games on Sunday saw the field come close together in score but St. Ambrose stayed in second. However, the Bees slipped to fourth before match play started.
There, the Bees hit their stride. As the No. 4 seed, SAU swept No. 5 Clarke University in two games in the best-of-three first round. In the semifinals, top-seed William Penn came out striking early but not often enough as the Bees were able to rally and win game one. Game two would be all St. Ambrose as the Bees eliminated the Statesmen from the tournament.
The finals would pair the Fighting Bees against the No. 2 seed V-Hawks from Viterbo University, a team that defeated SAU two weeks ago in the finals of the V-Hawk Invitational. But the championship was another one-sided affair for St. Ambrose as the Bees swept the V-Hawks.
"We've been knocking on the door for two years now and to finally get that win at conference is an amazing feeling," men's coach Duane Fleming said.
On the other side of the house, the women struggled Saturday and Sunday and slipped to the No. 5 seed heading into match play. Saturday, they were led by Aretha Williams (left), who averaged 204.83 for six games to place second individually. Williams was named to the all-tournament team along with Taylor Garvey (right), who averaged a 194.17 over six games for the SAU JV team to place fifth overall.
Despite their struggles, the Queen Bees were able to pull a few upsets as they beat Grand View in the first round of bracket play, using all three games to do it. The Queen Bees were forced to a deciding third game in the semifinals against top-seed Viterbo before getting past the V-Hawks 2-1 to advance to the conference finals.
The Queen Bees matched up with the Mount Mercy Mustangs in the title match. The first game would go to the Queen Bees but they would be unable to close the door in the second game. The third game came down to the ninth and 10th frames. The Queen Bees would open in the ninth, leaving the door open for the Mustangs which they slammed shut to win the conference title.
Several Bees garnered individual honors at the MCC Championships.
On the men's side, Kopera was named Newcomer of the Year and Anderson was selected to the all-conference team.
The Fighting Bees and Queen Bees will travel next weekend to the Hoosier Classic in Indianapolis. Bowl.com will stream the event live online starting Saturday.