The Youngstown State bowling team enters the final stretch of the season this weekend as it travels to the three-day Hawk Flight Invite. The tournament is being hosted by Monmouth at King Pin Lanes in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., and the Penguins' matches will be streamed on the YSUsports YouTube Channel (pending a strong wireless signal).
Scouting The Penguins: Youngstown State has posted winning head-to-head records in each of its last two tournaments, including a 7-5 mark two weeks ago at the James Brown Invitational. YSU, in its second season of competition, received votes in February's National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 Poll. The Penguins finished the 2016-17 season ranked No. 25, and they have two tournaments left to make a move and finish in the top 25 again. Emily Dietz was YSU's top individual finisher the first two tournaments of the spring, and Nikki Mendez was the top finisher at the James Brown Invitational.
Tournament Format: Teams will compete in five Baker matches on Friday, five traditional team matches on Saturday and three best-of-seven Baker bracket matches on Sunday. Baker play on Friday will start at 11 a.m., Saturday's schedule will begin at 10 a.m., and Sunday's bracket matches will start at 8:30 a.m. Teams have been placed into two pools, and they will bowl opponents in the opposite pool for nine of the matches on Friday and Saturday. The first traditional team competition on Saturday will be an in-pool positional round.
Scouting The Field: Youngstown State is one of 18 teams that will compete at the Hawk Flight Invite this weekend, and it will be in the blue pool. That guarantees that the Penguins will compete against Caldwell, Fairleigh Dickinson, Felician, Franklin Pierce, Kutztown, LIU Brooklyn, LIU Post, Monmouth and St. Francis Brooklyn. Overall, six teams ranked in February's National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, including four of the top 10, will be at the tournament. YSU is one of five additional teams that received votes in the most recent poll.
Recapping the James Brown Invitational: Youngstown State went 7-5 in head-to-head matches and finished eighth in the 15-team James Brown Invitational two weeks ago. The Penguins began the tournament with three wins in Baker matches, which included a 25-pin victory over No. 23 Fayetteville State, and they split four contested traditional team games. YSU then won its first two bracket matches before falling 4-3 in the final match and finishing eighth overall. Nikki Mendez led the Penguins individually with a five-game total of 942 to place 14th, and Rachel Ellis finished 15th just five pins back with a 937. Mackenzie Olesky was strong in relief as she averaged 191.25 over her four games.
Next Up: Youngstown State will conclude its 2017-18 season at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic March 16-18 at the Smyrna Bowling Center near Nashville, Tenn.