After a tumultuous week, the sixth-ranked Nebraska women’s bowling team is set to compete at the Mid-Winter Invitational held in Jonesboro, Ark., Jan. 17-19.
The tournament will be hosted by Arkansas State, which enters the tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation according to the NTCA (National Tenpin Coaches Association). The 13-team field features seven of the top-10 teams in the country.
The tournament starts on Friday with Baker competition starting at 11:30 a.m. The Huskers will then compete Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in tradition scoring and individual scoring and will wrap up the tournament Sunday with team bracket play starting at 8 a.m.
The Huskers will arrive to Jonesboro without Head Coach Bill Straub at the helm. Straub, who has run the Husker program since it was elevated to varsity status in 1996 has been hospitalized since late last week.
Nebraska Assistant Coach Paul Klempa, who has coached with Straub since Nebraska added bowling as a varsity sport, and has helped the Huskers win four NCAA titles since 2004, will serve as the Huskers’ Interim Head Coach.
Klempa is confident in the teams’ abilities and believes that the team will take a ‘business as usual’ approach this weekend, even without Coach Straub.
“It will be different obviously missing your head coach during competition, but the plan is to continue with business as usual as best we can.” Klempa said, “Hopefully, they (the team) will be even more motivated to do well and win one for Coach Straub. They know Coach is recovering, and they have their jobs to do and are ready to go do them.”
Returning First Team NTCA All-American Liz Kuhlkin also believes in the teams’ overall morale heading into the Mid-Winter Invitational. The Junior noted that the team is more motivated than ever to win this weekend.
“I think we are motivated more than ever, but at the same time we still have the same common goal,” Kuhlkin said. “Our goal as a team has always been to make it to Cleveland for the NCAA Championship.”
Klempa Admires How the Huskers Have Been Competing
Even with Coach Straub missing the last few practices, Klempa really is starting to like how the relatively young group of Huskers are starting to gel as a team. Klempa noted that all of the lady Huskers are really starting to develop and enhance their bowling skills.
“We just returned from break so we only had a couple of days to work this week before we left for Arkansas,” Klempa said. “Prior to break, practice was very productive. Many players are developing their skills nicely and our depth is increasing as we move through the season. We are traveling with eight players this weekend, and any and all of them are playing well enough right now to see playing time in Arkansas.”
Huskers Looking Forward to Competition Level Rising
Interim Head Coach Paul Klempa noted that he is interested to see how the Huskers respond to the long break from competition, as well as how the team matches up with some of the best teams in the country.
“The tournament hosted by Arkansas State is always a pleasure to compete in. Coach (Justin) Kostick and the ASU staff and administrators always roll out the red carpet for attending teams,” Klempa said. “Competition is very strong and it one of the strongest fields we will see all season. It will be a good opportunity for our team to see where they stack up against many of the best teams in the nation. The team is anxious to return to competition and continue pursuing our goal of winning back to back NCAA National Championships.