By Jennifer Roback
Heading into the 2021-22 season, McKendree University was ranked No. 2 in the nation by the National Tenpin Coaches Association, but by the time the last poll was released in February 2022, they had moved up to first, and on April 16, they showed the world why.
The team capped off their 2022 NCAA season by capturing their second-ever title, defeating No. 8 Stephen F. Austin 4-0 in the best-of-seven Baker format. Their performance reminded many of their first NCAA Championship win in 2017, when they defeated Nebraska with a 4-0 sweep.
"It's pretty amazing when you get to watch a group of young ladies you love as your own, make their dreams become a reality," head coach Shannon O'Keefe said following the match, via McKendree University Athletics. "We are truly blessed to have a school that supports us the way they do and a team that loves each other first, we are proud to bring this title home to McKendree."
While the Bearcats might have taken home the trophy, the road was not easy. They had faced elimination after losing Friday's opening mega-match to SFA 2-1, but battled back and won three straight matches after that, including a 2-1 win over No. 4 Vanderbilt to advance to the championship match.
The championship team was led by Isabella Correa, Britaney Myers, Maranda Pattison, Rebecca Hagerman, and Hope Gramly.
Pattison and Gramly also picked up spots on the National Collegiate Bowling Championships All-Tournament Team.
As for the remainder of the season, the Bearcats are still not done chasing dreams and will head to Stardust Bowl in Addison, Illinois, on April 18, to compete at the 2022 ITC National Championships.