The Youngstown State bowling team was under the direction of three different head coaches during the 2018-19 academic year, but it also experienced unprecedented success as it prepares for new heights in 2019-20. Below are highlights and accomplishments from the previous season.
Kuberski Takes Reins in December
Doug Kuberski became the Penguins' head coach in December to bring stability and promise to the program. Chelsea Gilliam, who served as the program's head coach the first two seasons of its history, took a position at another university in September, and Clint Daley filled in admirably as the interim head through the fall semester. In the spring semester, Kuberski led the program to a 28-25 overall record, three wins over top-five ranked teams in just five tournaments, succeeded with individual development and was able to recruit four talented bowlers to enhance the program's future.
Impressive Head-To-Head Victories
Youngstown State earned 10 head-to-head victories over teams ranked in the top 10 of the National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 Poll during the 2018-19 season. Highlighting those impressive wins was a triumph over top-ranked McKendree at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic on March 15. YSU also beat No. 3 Nebraska and No. 5 Sam Houston State during the spring semester, and it topped SHSU when it was ranked fourth during the fall. The Penguins had just five top-10 wins in their first two seasons combined, and they had never beaten a top-five team.
Best Final Ranking in Program History
Youngstown State finished the 2018-19 season ranked 24th in the final National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 poll. That was their highest ranking at the end of a season in school history. YSU received votes in the November poll and jumped into the Top 25 in February in what was the first release under Kuberski. YSU ranked 25th at the end of the 2016-17 season, and it was unranked at the conclusion of 2017-18.
Record Book Updates
The Penguins made numerous new entries to the program's record book in 2018-19.
- Team Baker Game – YSU twice bowled a school-record 258 game in Baker play. The first one came on Jan. 18 at the KU Invitational against Chestnut Hill in the second match of the Kuberski era. The Penguins also bowled a 258 versus Central Missouri on March 17 at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic. YSU also bowled a 256, the third-highest game in school history, on Nov. 11 at the Warhawk Classic.
- Individual Game - Rachel Darrow tied the school record for the highest individual game with a 258 on Nov. 10 at the Warhawk Classic. Emma Dockery's 254 at the KU Invitational on Jan. 19 was the fourth-highest total by a YSU bowler.
- Baker Match – YSU recorded its top three Baker match totals in program history in 2018-19. Behind the school-record 258 game, the Penguins shot 1,084 against Chestnut Hill on Jan. 18 at the KU Invitational. That was 36 pins better than the previous mark. YSU also shot a 1,051 in the win over No. 1 McKendree on March 15 and a 1,048 against Adelphi on Nov. 9.
- Team Match – The Penguins posted five of the top six match scores in their history in the team format. The top two totals came at the KU Invitational on Jan. 19 when YSU bowled a school-best 1,073 against St. Francis Brooklyn and a 1,063 versus Sacred Heart. YSU had its third and sixth-best marks in program history at the Warhawk Classic on Nov. 10, and it shot 1,017 versus UW-Whitewater at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic on Mar. 16 for the fifth-best total.
- Individual Tournament Pinfall – YSU had four of its top five individual totals in tournament pinfall during the season. Rachel Darrow's 1,077 and Emma Dockery's 1,075 at the Warhawk Classic on Nov. 10 were the top two tournament pinfalls in school history. Nikki Mendez posted the fourth and fifth-best totals in the spring with a 1,063 at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic and a 1,043 at the KU Invitational.
YSU also set program records for highest average in team games, 200 games, best baker frame average, strike percentage and fill percentage.
First Season in Southland Bowling League
The 2018-19 season was YSU's first as a member of the Southland Bowling League. After competing as an independent their first two years as an intercollegiate program, the Penguins joined the top conference in the country for their third season. Four SBL teams ranked in the top 10 of the final NTCA Top 25 Poll, and conference members Stephen F. Austin and Vanderbilt played each other in the match to decide the National Championship.
Mendez Named Honorable Mention All-Southland Bowling League
Junior Nikki Mendez flourished in the 2019 spring semester and averaged a 199.36 over 22 games. That was a big improvement from the 178.45 she averaged 20 games in the fall, and her 189.40 average for the season was the second-best mark in program history. Mendez led the Penguins in team game average, Baker frame average, fill percentage, strike percentage and spare conversion percentage in 2018-19, and she was named Honorable Mention All-Southland Bowling League for her efforts. It was the first conference recognition by a YSU bowler in school history.
Five Penguins Named to SBL All-Academic Team
Emily Dietz, Emma Dockery, Rachel Ellis, Ashley Kolb and Nikki Mendez were all named to the inaugural Southland Bowling League All-Academic Team. YSU's five honorees on the team were the second-most in the conference. To be recognized on the all-academic team, bowlers must have a minimum 3.00 cumulative grade point average, have completed at least one full academic year at the nominating institution prior to the season in which the nomination occurs, and have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's tournaments during the most recently completed season.