Lincoln, Neb.- The Nebraska bowling team closed out competition in a big way Saturday morning at the Big Red Invitational, held at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln. The Huskers finished the third day of competition with a total pinfall of 3227 in traditional team play, placing the Huskers first out of eight teams. Nebraska finished the weekend of competition placing second on Thursday, fourth on Friday, and then of course winning Saturday’s competition. In the final team pinfall count, Nebraska finished second behind Arkansas State (13,245-13,046).
Nebraska Head Coach Bill Straub was impressed with how the team performed, noting that there were certainly some highs and lows during the weekend competition. Struab also noted that he was very excited to see how many Husker fans came out and supported the Huskers.
“The start was positive, there was plenty of people that were here that supported Husker Athletics and they were here to support us, which I am very grateful for.” Straub said, “Most people might not know a lot about collegiate bowling, but they certainly supported us and I am happy that we performed well in front of our home crowd.”
Nebraska opened up Saturdays tournament facing off with national power Central Missouri University. One of NU’s talented true freshman, Briana Zabierek, started out strong in the Huskers first match versus the Jennies, opening up with six strikes and four spares to record a score of 197. Returning Senior Yan Ling led the way for the Huskers in game one, as Ling recorded seven strikes and four spares to end up producing an impressive 227 total pinfall score. Junior Andrea Ruiz also had an impressive start to Saturday’s competition, recording a score of 225. All-in-all, NU managed to take the early lead in day three, recording a team total pinfall of 1047.
The Huskers then faced off with nationally ranked (8) Wisconsin-Whitewater University in their second match of the day. Returning First Team All-American Liz Kuhlkin started out hot for NU, recording a spare and three straight strikes in her first four frames of the second match. Nebraska was led by a great team performance versus the Warhawks, as the Huskers caught fire, rolling 12 straight strikes from the sixth frame to the eighth frame. Zabierek continued her hot streak as well, rolling four straight strikes on her way to a impressive 213 total pinfall. Kuhlkin also finished strong, concluding the second match with seven strikes for a total pinfall of 228. NU ended the second match with a team total pinfall of 2121, leading the field by over 100 pins going into the final match of the tournament.
NU then competed against Elmurst College in their final match of the Big Red Invitational. Ling started off on fire for the Huskers, recording three straight strikes to jump start the team, as NU tried to maintain their lead in the tournament. the Huskers saw three of their athletes record Turkey’s in the final match of the day, as well. Ling continued to anchor the Huskers at the end of the match, rolling five straight strikes to seal the deal for the Nebraska bowling team. Ling ended her third match performance with an impressive stat line— nine strikes, and two spare, with no open frames in the 10 frame match.
One of the bright spots for Nebraska during the Big Red Invitational was the emergence of true freshman Briana Zabierek. Zabierek, a native of Lockport, Ill., saw her first action of her collegiate career this weekend at home tournament and certainly did not disappoint the home town fans. Briana recorded scores of 197, 213 and 195 during Saturday’s competition. Zabierek was impressed with her overall performance, noting that she did not know what to expect since this was her first time competing collegiately.
“It is really exciting since this was my first time competing,” Zabierek said. “I didn’t know what to expect, so all of the older girls helped me through it, and I am really excited that we got the championship today.”
Redshirt freshman April Campbell also impressed this weekend at the Big Red Invitational. Campbell, a Bellevue native, solidified herself in the Nebraska starting rotation after having two tremendous performances at the Huskers first two competitions this season. Campbell, the lone Nebraskan on this years Husker squad was really excited to compete in front of the home crowd, especially competing in front of her family.
“It is really nice to have all the support here, it was great to see all the bleachers filled up with people wearing red.” Campbell said, “It was really great to have my parents down here to support me compete, they were at all of my high school tournaments and it is really hard to have them come watch us as we travel around the country competing.“
Nebraska bowling will now be off until January, as the Huskers will be home for the Holidays. NU will travel to the Mid-Winter Classic at Jonesboro, Ark., on Jan. 17-19. The tournament will be hosted by Arkansas State University, check back here at Huskers.com for updates on the Nebraska bowling team.