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Collegiate sports like basketball and football get a lot of attention, especially when a team is doing well. Many colleges offer a wide variety of competitive sports programs which often go unnoticed regardless of their win/loss record. The world of collegiate bowling is probably not on your radar, but, perhaps it should be. The Arkansas State University Women’s Bowling team is currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA by the National Tenpin Coaches Association.
Photo by Richard Bishop Photography
Under the direction of Coach Justin Kostick, the AState Women’s Bowling Team, one of the “Elite 3” teams in the country, has had a winning record for the last few seasons. They are aiming to win the national championship this year. Other top teams include Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and the University of Nebraska.
Coach Kostick is no stranger to bowling. He bowled for the University of Nebraska during his college years and even coached their men’s team from 2004 to 2006. After spending a few years operating a small bowling center in his home state of Washington, Kostick came to Arkansas State University in August 2009.
The 12 players on the team come from all over the country with two players from right here in Arkansas.
Photo by Richard Bishop Photography
Shynia O’Neal is a redshirt freshman from Academic Plus Charter School in Maumelle, Arkansas and was the AAA Singles champion in 2014.
Allyson Stevens is a freshman from Brookland High School in Brookland, Arkansas. Allyson has been All-Conference and All-State three times, regional champion twice and also state individual champion.
Coach Kostick is looking for girls who have a good release and can put a lot of power behind the ball. This trait comes naturally while other physical problems can be much easier to fix through practice and skill drills.
Regular practice is an important aspect for the success of the team and the girls practice several hours each week. NCAA rules allow for 20 hours per week of organized practice, meetings, workouts and tournament play so their schedule may vary based on their tournament schedule.
The team’s official practice location is the Jonesboro Bowling Center. The center is currently expanding, and the addition will include an official practice facility for the AState Women’s Bowling team. The five-year contract between the Jonesboro Bowling Center and Arkansas State University will provide the women with a dedicated pro shop, coaches offices, locker rooms, lounge and private team entrance to the bowling center. Coach Kostick is hopeful that this will help with recruiting and will entice the top players in the country to come to Arkansas.
The Mid-Winter Invitational took place in Jonesboro in mid-January. Fourteen teams came from around the country for a weekend of competitive bowling. Although the AState Women finished in third place, Coach Kostick feels confident that they are still strong contenders for the National Championship and that the likelihood of a win is very attainable.
Coach Kostick believes the key to success is not watching or worrying about the opponent. He encourages his girls to put up a curtain or wall because there is no defense in bowling. The team’s motto is, “You always make good shots.” They play each game one shot at a time, only worrying about the current shot and not what should have been before or what they should do next.
The 2015-2016 season is a little more than half over. The women will travel to Tennessee and Louisiana for tournaments in March before heading to the National Championship in New Jersey in mid-April. Arkansas State hopes to gain its first NCAA Bowling Championship trophy. After being so close for the last few years, they are ready to solidify this dream. You can follow the ASU Women’s Bowling team through the Red Wolves Athletics website or on Facebook.
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