Imagine you're a college coach whose team finishes ahead of Michigan State and the University of Michigan in your school's first-ever competition in a sport.
That's the position Mark Metz of Medaille's women's bowling team found himself in a few weeks ago when the Mavericks finished sixth in the American Heartland Tournament in Pittsburgh. Ohio State won the tournament. Michigan State was seventh, Michigan ninth and Bowling Green 10th and last in the field.
Medaille has made great strides recently in its soccer, women's basketball and men's basketball programs and intends to make its mark in women's bowling, too.
"We tried to get it started last year, but the decision came a little too late so we competed on the club level with the students we already had in house," Metz said. "This year I did some heavy recruiting."
College bowling has been a vital part of the Western New York bowling scene since the 1970s, and many stars have come from the local collegiate ranks. So Medaille's entry into the scene is important news. Metz, a graduate of Alfred State and the Culinary Institute of America who is the director of food service at the college, has 32 years of bowling experience.
Since the first tournament in September, the Mavs have turned in a sixth-place finish at Cornell's Big Red Invitational and were seventh among eight teams in last weekend's Penn State Invitational.
Medaille's Laura Mauger (Clarence) was sixth in the Big Red with a 184.17 average and 13th at Penn State. Kimberly Wangler (Maryvale), a junior transfer from Erie Community College, was 16th. Alyssa Neglia (Lockport) was the Mavs' high finisher, 14th (184), in the Heartland event.
"Laura [Mauger] has been a pleasant surprise. She's been consistent," Metz said. "Kimmie [Wangler] is our captain. She's been carrying on with a minor injury to her thumb."
Others on the Mavs' roster are junior Melissa Haag and Michelle Spencer (Depew).
Waiting in the wings is Marion Singleton of Lockport, who led Maryland-Eastern Shore to second place in the NCAA championships last year. Her team lost to Vanderbilt, 4-3, in the best-of-seven final match. Singleton, who transferred from UMES, will be eligible next year.
Medaille's scheduling was limited by budget, but Metz and his players did some fundraising so they could compete in the Roto Grip Keystone Quaker Classic in Allentown, Pa., and the Nittany Lion Kegler Classic in Maple Shade, N.J., in late December.
The ECC women were third in the Big Red and third at Penn State. Kathryn Kacalski (St. Mary's/Lancaster) was second (191.67) and Kerri Meden (Lockport) was fifth (183.00) at the Big Red. In the Penn State event, Maden was third (199.17) and Jessica Mamon (Williamsville South) took sixth (184.17).
The ECC women's roster also includes Samantha Scioli (West Senece East), Alyssa Murphy (Williamsville South), Robin Donk, Molly Lenahan (Frontier), Victoria Stobnicki (Hutch-Tech) and Tori Goins (Hutch-Tech).
The ECC men, the defending National Junior College Athletic Association champions, finished fifth among 14 teams at the Big Red Invitational and 20th at Penn State.
Mitchell Willett (Frontier) of ECC was eighth (194.33) at the Big Red.
Darrell Lloyd (Burgard), Kurt Williamson (Lancaster), Steven Lach (JFK), Erik Westfield (Maryvale), Charlie Zmozynski (Depew), Steve Mancuso (Hamburg), Justin Hart (East Aurora), Nick Misnik (Depew), Tim Frenz (Clarence) and Dan Melidona (Williamsville East) make up the ECC roster.
*Promising starts ended up in disappointment for Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga and Jack Jurek of Lackawanna at this week's Denny's PBA Tour Lake County Indiana Classic presented by United Way.
Ciminelli was in position to earn a spot in the field of 64 after six games of the Tour Qualifier on Wednesday when he averaged 219.6. A 162 in his last game shot him out of the Hammond, Ind. tournament.
On Thursday, Jurek bowled a 300 in the fourth game of his first seven-game block of qualifying and he stood in 10th place with 1,591. However, in the second qualifying block, he bowled only 1,412 and fell to 40th place and missed the cut. Tom Baker was 42nd and Joe Ciccone was 48th while Brad Angelo was out with a back injury. In this week's PBA Women's Series, Liz Johnson qualified fourth at 214.00.
*Team USA's Bill Hoffman of Columbus, Ohio, became the first American to win the men's division at the QubicaAMF World Cup in a dozen years last weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia. He defeated Australia's Jason Belmonte, 2-1, in the championship match.