Facing a field with 13 of the 19 participating teams ranked among the nation’s top-20, the #20 Valparaiso bowling team posted a 2-1 record in bracket play on Sunday in Millsboro, Del. to conclude the Hawk Classic in fourth place.
The Crusaders trailed only #2 Vanderbilt, #3 Fairleigh Dickinson and #4 Maryland Eastern Shore in the final tournament placements. Valpo finished ahead of four squads ranked in the top-ten in the nation and also bested five other teams ahead of itself in the national rankings.
“The entire weekend was a tremendous experience for our program,” said Crusader head coach Stephen Anthony. “To travel and face the level of competition that we faced each day was a tremendous challenge, and I am very proud of how we competed and finished the tournament today. Matching up against Arkansas State, NJCU and UMES on the third day was a terrific opportunity and we did well in competing against the best in the country.”
Sunday’s bracket play was contested in best-of-seven baker matches. Valpo, which entered Sunday seeded sixth based on the first two days of action, opened play against the fifth seed, #7 Arkansas State. The squads split the first four games, with the Crusaders rolling a team-best 235 in the fourth game of the match. Arkansas State moved within one game of the victory with a 208-182 triumph in game five, but Valpo responded with a tight 171-168 win in game six and closed out the match with another 235 effort in a 235-158 victory.
The Crusaders advanced to take on the fourth seed, #8 New Jersey City University, in their next match. The two teams split the first two games before Valpo posted back-to-back 206-157 and 180-174 wins to pull within one game of the victory. NJCU took game five, but Valpo responded with a 196-175 win in game six to take the match and earn a spot in the third-place match.
Valpo battled hard with third-seeded host UMES in its final match, but eventually succumbed in seven games. The Crusaders earned wins in the first two games, but UMES rallied with three straight victories to go ahead 3-2. Valpo registered a 192-190 win in game six to force the decisive seventh game, but the host Hawks won the finale 181-166 to take third place.
Valparaiso (27-21) is now off until January 15, when it will hit the lanes for the first of three days of action at the Mid-Winter Classic in Cabot, Ark.