INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — New Jersey City University’s women’s bowling team kept alive its remarkable streak of qualifying for every NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship in history on Wednesday, as the Gothic Knights—the host school for the 2010 and seventh-annual championship event—learned it was one of eight schools nationally that met the requirements to compete for the national title.
The Gothic Knights, ranked No. 8 nationally among Division I, II and III schools, finished the regular season with a 72-41 overall record and won the 2010 Northeast Conference regular season championship with a 12-2 ledger.
The 2010 NCAA Championship will be held from April 8-10 at Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick. Tickets are now on sale by visiting www.NJCUGothicKnights.com or calling 1-201-200-2444.
The finals will air live on ESPNU on April 10 at 8:30 p.m. and will be re-aired on ESPN on Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m.
In a year bowling had the largest number of schools in its history potentially vying for a post-season berth, the 2010 championship field is identical to 2009. In the end, the final National Tenpins Coaches Association national poll of the 2009-10 regular season correctly predicted the NCAA field for the second straight season, as each of the top eight schools in the country were selected yet again.
The eight teams, all selected at-large by the NCAA Women’s Bowling Committee—which is chaired by 10th-year NJCU head coach Frank Parisi—include #1 ranked University of Maryland Eastern Shore, #2 Vanderbilt University, #3 Vanderbilt University, #4 and defending national champion University of Nebraska, #5 Delaware State University, #6 University of Central Missouri, #7 Arkansas State University, and #8 NJCU.
“I’m very pleased we made it for the seventh consecutive year,” Parisi, the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Division III National Coach of the Year said. “The competition has gotten better and better each year and fortunately we’ve met the challenge each year.”
Parisi added “there was a little more added pressure [to make the tournament]. With us hosting this year, it would have been very disappointing to not make it for the first time the year you’re hosting it.”
Senior Candice D’angelo (Coram, N.Y./Longwood (N.Y.), one of four players on the six-team roster who helped the Gothic Knights finish fifth at the 2009 championship, admitted it was a huge relief when NJCU’s name was announced during the live selection show from an in-house studio at the NCAA national office. NJCU and Vanderbilt each had their live reaction shots broadcast via video-conference during the selection show on NCAA.com.
“It’s a really big relief. I was really stressed out because there are a lot of good teams in the country that could have been one of the eight teams and other teams could have beat us out [to make nationals]. To finally know we’ve made it, I have the weight of the world off my shoulders.”
NJCU remains the only Division III school to ever qualify for the championship. Meanwhile, Central Missouri is a Division II institution and the six other participants are all Division I.
By qualifying for the NCAA Championship for the seventh consecutive year, NJCU is one of only four schools in the country that have been selected to every NCAA Championships since the event debuted in 2004. That puts the Gothic Knights in elite company, joining three-time national champion Nebraska (2004, 2005, 2009), three-time national finalist Central Missouri, and 2008 champion and #1 ranked Maryland Eastern Shore.
FDU qualified for the sixth time and Vanderbilt earned its fifth straight bid. Arkansas State earned its third bid while Delaware State, which last year became the 15th different school to appear in the eight-team annual event, makes its second trip.
“To qualify for nationals all four years I’ve been at NJCU means a lot to me,” D’Angelo said. “I’m honored to bowl for a great team that is talented and has a chance to bowl for a national championship four straight years. This experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. Not many athletes get a chance to do what Jenn [senior Jenn Marmo (North Babylon, N.Y.)] and I have done. I’m happy to end my collegiate career like this.”
Junior Nicole Drejerwski (Levittown, Pa./Conwell-Egan Catholic), a 2009 NTCA Honorable Mention All-American and 2010 First-Team All-NEC Conference selection, is excited to have the chance to compete for a title in New Jersey—the first time the championship has ever been held in the Northeast.
“It’s pretty amazing. We’re going to a national championship and there are so many people supporting us who can go this year. It will be exciting to have the support of our family and our fans.”
While D’Angelo and Marmo make their fourth NCAA appearance and Drejerwski her third, NJCU will also be led by First-Team All-NEC selection, sophomore Jennifer Daunno (Carteret) and her sister, freshman Kelly Daunno (Carteret), along with sophomore Amy Brehm (East Brunswick).
The seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament selection extends the program’s school record for every athletics program ever offered in the 80-year history of the University. The only other sports program in the history of the institution to qualify for an NCAA Championship in five or more years is the men’s basketball team, which competed in the NCAAs in five straight seasons from 1994-99—the last four years as an at-large selection.
NJCU has reached the Final Four in three of its six previous appearances in the NCAA Tournament—all coming in even-numbered year. NJCU hopes to equal or better that trend in 2010, another even year. The Knights placed third in 2004 and 2008 and fourth in 2006. In 2005 and 2009, the Knights finished fifth, with a seventh-place showing in 2007.
The 2009-10 campaign was truly a roller-coaster year. The Gothic Knights started slow but assembled a scintillating 25-4 record from January 29 through February 21 that catapulted the program into the NCAAs. NJCU placed as high as second in two different tournaments. The highlight of the regular season came at the Kutztown Invitational (January 29-31) when NJCU was second among 28 schools in the largest tournament in the nation. NJCU was also second of 20 teams at the Jeanette Lee Invitation (December 5-6).
The Knights were third at the Terriers Knockdown (January 16-17), fifth of 19 teams at the Eastern Shore Hawk Classic (November 20-22), fifth of 26 schools at the Morgan State Invitational (February 20-21), fifth of 11 teams at the ECAC Championship (March 6-7) and eighth of 20 at the Music City Classic (March 12-14), before finishing fifth at the NEC Championship on March 20.
Parisi, who along with eighth-year assistant coach Rusty Thomsen, was voted the NEC Coach of the Year, noted how the NCAA Tournament is truly a new season.
“Everybody starts from scratch. We just have to continue to work hard and hope that the familiarity of the center and the atmosphere helps us and we get back to what made us successful during the season.”
“I think being at home will help us. We certainly will have more fans this year than in the previous six years we’ve been at the championship. Hopefully, it will energize the team more to perform to the best of their abilities but they still have to remain focused at the task at hand.”
At #8, the Gothic Knights enter the NCAA Championship with its lowest ranking in the last five years, after a No. 4 position in 2006 and 2007, a #6 listing in 2008 and #7 in 2009.
This year’s team also enters the championship with its lowest winning percentage of its seven appearances at .637. In 2009, NJCU had a .707 percentage and a 87-36 record. In 2008 the 87-35 team owned a .713 winning percentage. In 2007, NJCU was 69-21-1 (.764) coming into the NCAAs. In 2006, NJCU was 72-29-1 for a .711 percentage; in 2005, the Knights, then ranked No. 2 nationally, were 70-25 (.737) and in 2004 had a mark of 59-33-1 (.640), prior to the existence of the NTCA poll.
The NCAAs commence on April 8 with a qualifying round, which determines a team’s seed in bracket play. The major change to the qualifying round this season is that each team’s win-loss record during the seven traditional matches—rather than the total pinfall as has been the case in the previous six championships—will determine seeding.
Based on the qualifying round, teams are placed in two four-team double-elimination brackets and will compete against each other in a best four-out-of-seven Baker series, until the national championship is awarded. Ties, within a Baker game will be decided by a shootout sudden-death roll-off.
Once bracket play has commenced, the higher seed gets starting lane preference for the first and seventh game of any series and any tie-breaker that must be played.
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