Featured Athlete
Aretha Williams
Aretha Williams
Women's Bowling
April 8, 2015

Hometown: Davenport, Iowa
High School: Davenport North
Major: Accounting (earned undergrad degree in 2013 and will earn her Master's this May)

Read Steve Batterson's Quad-City Times feature on Aretha Williams from Mar. 7, 2012

Wanting to spend more time at home with family and giving some lesser-experienced teammates more chances to compete, Aretha Williams cut back on her bowling schedule this year.

Little did the senior know that her schedule would ultimately extend beyond those of her teammates.

Williams will become the first SAU women's bowler to compete at the xBowling Intercollegiate Singles Championships when she hits Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan., next Tuesday. She qualified for the individual national tournament by finishing second at the team's Collegiate Sectional Qualifier back on Mar. 13.

And Williams earned it, rolling a 277 in the sixth and final game of the series to jump from 10th place into second. The top four at each of the four qualifying locations qualified for nationals.

She started fast with a 225 in the first game and followed that with a 192 and a 190. But a 177 in the fourth game dropped her to 12th place, and even a 222 in the fifth game only lifted her into 10th place, putting the pressure on.

Aretha Williams (left) and teammate Ellen Moller, photo courtesy Mary Krol

"I looked up and saw where I was after the fourth game but they didn't post scores so I didn't know after five," Williams said. "I thought I was probably ninth or 10th and would need a 240 or so to grab that last spot."

With one 300 in practice and five sanctioned 299 games in her career, Williams came through with her 277 to take second and finish what-proved-to-be a comfortable 40 pins ahead of the fifth-place finisher. The 277-game was the highest individual game from any of the 150 participants at the sectional.

In chasing down a top-four finish, Williams was also chasing teammate Ellen Moller (pair pictured at right), who held the fourth and final qualifying spot after both the fourth and fifth games.

"I didn't want to take that last spot from her," Williams said. "I felt I had a good shot but I wanted her to shoot high too so we could both make it."

Unfortunately, Moller finished with a 155 to end 11th overall.

But Williams won't be going to Wichita alone. Fellow Bee Josh Anderson qualified on the men's side and Williams hopes to see some familiar faces cheering her on.

"I think some of the girls on the team will come out so it will be nice to have the team there for support," Williams said. "And Ellen will be there and I think she is going to serve as my coach so that will be great."

At the xBowling Intercollegiate Singles Championships, Williams will be one of 16 women vying for a national title. Each bowler will roll eight games to determine seeding position. The eight lowest seeds will square off head-to-head in three-game series with the four winners advancing to face seeds 5-8 in three-game series. Finally, those four winners will battle the top four seeds from qualifying in another round of three-game series. Those winners will advance to the semifinals Saturday. The semifinal and championship rounds are televised, one-game head-to-head match-ups.

As far as goals at nationals?

"Obviously, I'd like to qualify in the top four so I'd need only 11 games to get to Saturday. Then, I just want to be one pin better than my opponent," Williams said. "My goal is to have fun and execute and pick up spares. I don't want to leave any makeable shots out there. Basically, I don't want to beat myself."

No matter what happens, Williams will look back fondly on her St. Ambrose bowling career.

"We had a really young team this year. Really inexperienced. But we came on at the end and had a great year, and I think they'll have an amazing team next year even though they'll still be young. I'm just so glad I came back. It's time consuming but I absolutely loved it."