Quest for a 3-peat
Bowlers back on track, look to win third straight national title
February 18, 2008 —
SVSU's bowling team again holds the No. 1 spot in the nation, and they're looking to win the national title for the third year in a row.
The Cardinals are ranked No. 1 on CollegeBowling.com, thanks to a victory in last month's Blue & Gold Classic in South Bend, Indiana. SVSU currently has a point total of 4,804, with their two main rivals Lindenwood University and Wichita State University trailing close behind.
"The last two years we've won a combined 24 events, and last year we won a record-setting 13 events," senior and A team player Toby Sidle said. "No other team in collegiate bowling history has won more events in one season."
The season started off rocky for the Cardinals, as several key players from last year were lost.
"When we found out the J.R. Raymond was leaving it broke a lot of our high spirits," senior and top bowler Dan MacLelland said. "We thought for sure that if J.R. stayed we would have an even better season than last year."
Coach Dan Dorion also expressed concern for this year's season as many thought this would be the Cards' rebuilding year.
"We were lucky to get third or fourth spot at the start of the year," he said. "We had only won two conference tournaments which we don't think very highly of with good quality teams on them."Sidle agreed with Dorion's mentality toward the conferences.
"With the exception of one event, we haven't placed worse than fifth in any event this year which is still respectable in all regards, but we've come to expect much higher and better of ourselves," he said. "We've just had a lot of close second and third place finishes where it seemed like we were always on the outside looking in, and that's not something we are used to. So if anything it's just been more frustrating."
The team had a difficult time finding their set five bowlers for the season, but had it by winter semester. The five bowlers include MacLelland, Sidle, freshman Jeremy Chulock, sophomore and lead-off bowler Mike Snow, and MacLelland's twin brother, freshman Steve MacLelland.
Steve, who wanted to bowl in the fall, was unable to get into SVSU for that semester and had to wait until winter semester began.
"We knew that there was help on the way," Dorion said. "Once he came that was our fifth piece to the puzzle."
All five players agree that the additions of Steve and Chulock are what have helped the bowlers to turn around their season.
"With Jeremy Chulock and Steve MacLelland coming on the A team, we have put the past behind us and are looking only ahead to greater things to come," Dan said. "Chulock really stepped his game up and showed everyone on the team that he wanted to be that guy to make the difference, and he has. Without the adding of Steve, the dream for a three-peat was looking really dim."
Steve mentioned how being able to bowl with his brother has also been a key ingredient for the season.
"My brother and I have had the experience of bowling with each other our whole lives, and I think that helps the team as well because we know how to read off of each other when we are bowling and the knowledge that we have we can share as well," he said.
Dorion said that once the team beat their rival Wichita University in a Notre Dame tournament the week after all five bowlers were in place by over 200 pins, he knew they were back on track.
"We know we've arrived. We know we've got something special."
Sidle also places emphasis on the chemistry and friendships on the team.
"The biggest thing that has contributed is our team chemistry and our ability to make reads and adjustments. We get along really well together so we're always hanging out off the lanes and bowling leagues and practicing together," he said. "And we're able to make lane reads and adjustments off of each other by word of mouth or just by reading ball reactions. This is one of the intangibles that only the best teams in college bowling do. We do it really well and it helps keep us out of trouble when the lanes get nasty.
We never get tired of being around each other or the sport."
Chulock expressed that he's happy to be on the A team and that the team had made a turn-around.
"Our season is now going great. We are all bowling well, and just having a good time doing that. It's always fun when things are going our way."