The Nebraska bowling team returns to the lanes for the 2012-13 season after continuing its national dominance by making it to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight season last year. The Huskers fell one round short of making it to the NCAA finals in 2012, but return a strong group of bowlers showing promise to lead the Huskers to their 10th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Head Coach Bill Straub likes what this year’s squad brings to the table.
“Collectively, they have as much potential as anytime we have had here,” Straub said. “We go through scrimmages now with everyone not only fighting to succeed, but succeeding. That is a rarity.”
With the graduations of seniors Valerie Calberry and Kayla Johnson, this year’s Husker bowling team will rely heavily on returning NCAA and NTCA All-American Kristina Mickelson. The senior from Bellevue, Neb., will be Nebraska’s lone senior, but Straub said Mickelson is ready to carry the leadership load for the Huskers.
“Kristi returns after having a terrific junior year culminating in being named an All-American,” Straub said. “Kristi is the leader of the Huskers. Besides her on-lane successes, she serves as captain/representative for the team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).”
Also returning for NU this year is junior Tan Yan Ling, who brings much needed experience for the young, but talented group of Husker bowlers. Ling, a native of Singapore, has adjusted to life in Nebraska well according to Straub.
“Yan has worked diligently in acclimating herself to the land of Huskers, academically, athletically, and socially,” Straub said.
Amanda Burau rounds out the group of Husker upperclassmen this season. The junior from Lake in the Hills, Ill., will be looked upon to help lead the Husker bowling team this year. A transfer from Elgin Community College, Burau is expected to add depth to NU this year, and could contribute for the team. Straub likes Burau’s work ethic, and said she has shown improvement since joining the Huskers last season.
“Amanda puts in hard hours of effort trying to better herself and her team,” Straub said
Sophomore Elise Bolton will look to make an immediate impact for the Huskers this year. The native of Merritt Island, Fla., will be competing in her first season as a Husker after transferring from Sam Houston State. Straub said he had high hopes for Bolton this season and beyond.
“Elise has had a stellar junior career as shown by her current position with the USA National Junior Team,” Straub said. “She has won multiple gold medals for Junior Team USA, and finished second in last year’s Intercollegiate Singles Championships.”
After competing at a high level for the Huskers as a freshman, sophomore Liz Kuhlkin looks to build on her rookie season. Straub said Kuhlkin’s accomplishments were impressive, but could translate into even more success as a sophomore.
“One of the very few true freshmen to ever succeed so highly, Liz was a valuable starter at every tournament during the 2011-12 season for us, earning all-star status in four events,” Straub said.
Another former transfer trying to make an impact for the Huskers this season will be Andrea Ruiz. The sophomore from Bogota, Columbia, will try and adjust to the difficulty bowling at the collegiate level. Straub likes the international experience Ruiz brings to NU.
“Andrea is a current member of the Columbian Junior National Team, having won medals for her country while competing in South America, North America, Europe and Asia.”
Four freshmen will compete for NU this season, making this team one of the youngest squads in school history.
April Campbell, a native of Bellevue, Neb., will hope to add depth this season. The Nebraska all-state bowler will hope to settle into collegiate bowling this season.
“April begins this, her freshman year, with the Huskers ready to help extend the team’s history of success,” Straub said.
Emily Eckhoff will look to find success in her first season of collegiate bowling this year. Eckhoff, a freshman from Denver, Colo., brings strong amateur level experience to the lanes this year.
“Her performance there internationally successful professional bowlers will serve her well as she joins the Husker team.” Straub said.
After finding international success before coming to Nebraska, Watford, England, native Beth Hedley is hoping to continue her successful bowling career for the Huskers.
“Hedley has been a multiple gold medal winner for Junior Team England, twice winning the European Youth Championship and helping her team win the title at the 2012 World Youth Games held in Bangkok, Thailand,” Straub said.
Collierville, Tenn., native Emily Nykiel hopes to add depth to the talent-rich NU bowling team. Nykiel, a two-time state runner-up at the Tennessee State Championships, will hope to use her past success in competing for the Huskers this year.
The Nebraska bowling team will not host the Big Red Invite this year in Lincoln, instead the Huskers will start their season off on Nov. 11-13 at the Crusader Classic, in Valparaiso, Ind. The Huskers finished second in the tournament last season, and hope to start the season off strong with a win.
The Huskers will then go to the Track Kat Classic, hosted by Sam Houston State, in Huntsville Texas on Nov. 30. NU finished fourth in the tournament last year. After a month break due to winter break, the Huskers will head to the Mid-Winter Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark., on Jan. 11. NU finished fourth at the tournament last year.
After another month break, NU will head to Arlington, Texas for two consecutive tournaments in two weeks. The Huskers will compete at the Prairie View A&M Invite on Feb. 1 and then the Southern University Invite on Feb. 8.
NU will then go to the Greater Ozark Invitational on March 1, held in Kansas City, Mo. The Huskers did not compete at this tournament last year. In the last tournament of the season, the Huskers will head to the Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn. The tournament was the lone Husker tournament win last year.
The NCAA Championships will be held on April 11, in Fenton, Mich. The Huskers will hope to win their ninth national championship.