Kelly Belzeski and the Huskers travel to Kansas City this weekend for the Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Ready for Mid-America Invitational

By NU Athletic Communications

#1 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 24-25 - Noon, 8:45 a.m. (CT) – Kansas City, Kan. (KC Bowl)

Huskers Ready for Mid-America Invitational
The top-ranked Nebraska bowling team heads to the Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational this weekend, with competition set for Friday and Saturday at KC Bowl in Kansas City, Kan. The tournament is hosted by No. 11 Central Missouri.

The tournament will feature six teams, including a pair of ranked teams in the latest National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 Poll.

In addition to the Huskers and Central Missouri, Drury, Elmhurst, Lincoln (Mo.) and Maryville will also bowl at the tournament.

The Huskers are coming off their third tournament victory in four tries this season after taking the Crusader Classic championship last weekend. Julia Bond led the way for the Huskers, earning her first tournament victory of the season and the fourth of her career with an average of 220. Kelly Belzeski added her first-career top-10 finish with a 212.5 average, good for sixth overall, while Briana Zabierek joined them in the top-10 with an average of 205 to finish ninth. The Big Red went an undefeated 12-0 on the weekend and defeated a total of eight ranked teams.

Competition begins Friday morning at noon (CT) with five sets of five-game Baker matches. Saturday’s action will get started at 8:45 a.m. with five traditional team matches. Total pinfall from the two days of competition will determine the tournament champion.

Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational Notes
This weekend marks the fourth time in five seasons that Nebraska will compete at a tournament hosted by Central Missouri. The Huskers won the Central Missouri Women’s Invitational in 2013, before winning the Central Missouri Invitational in both 2014 and 2015. Liz Kuhlkin finished first overall with an average of 234.3 in 2015, while Gazmine Mason was fifth with a 209 average. Kuhlkin also finished first overall in 2013 with an average of 238, while finishing second in 2014 with an average of 224.4. In the 13 years that the NCAA has sponsored bowling, Nebraska and Central Missouri are the only two programs that have qualified for the NCAA Championship in every season.

Huskers, Bond Take First Place at Crusader Classic
Nebraska won its third tournament in four tries last weekend at the Crusader Classic, finishing 12-0 and taking down No. 2 Arkansas State in the championship match at Lakewood Bowl in Richton Park, Ill. Julia Bond finished first in the overall standings with a strong 220 average, earning her first tournament victory of the season and the fourth of her career. Kelly Belzeski earned her first top-10 finish, finishing sixth with an average of 212.5. Briana Zabierek joined them in the top-10, finishing ninth overall with an average of 205.

Huskers Take Second at SFA Stormin’ Ladyjack Invitational
Nebraska closed a solid weekend at the SFA Stormin’ Ladyjack Invitational in Houston with a second-place finish and a 10-3 overall record. Each of the three Husker losses on the weekend came at the hands of No. 3 McKendree, including a 4-1 defeat in the championship match. Julia Bond posted her highest average of the season and the fourth-highest of her career with a dazzling 228 to finish second overall, while Gazmine Mason joined her in the top five, finishing fifth with an average of 219.

NU Wins Fifth-Consecutive Prairie View Invitational Crown
For the fifth year in a row, Nebraska left the Prairie View Invitational as tournament champions, winning the loaded invitational the weekend of Jan. 27-29 at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas. NU went 11-2 on the weekend, defeating 10 ranked teams along the way. The Huskers swept Vanderbilt in the championship match to claim the title. Gazmine Mason led the way for the Huskers, finishing eighth overall with an average of 202.7.

Nebraska Back on Top in NTCA Poll
In the latest NTCA Top-25 poll released Jan. 22, Nebraska returned to the top spot, claiming 23 first-place votes and a total of 1,263 points. The Huskers began the season ranked first overall, but fell to the third spot in the November poll. Arkansas State fell one spot to second, while McKendree, Sam Houston State and Vanderbilt round out the top five.

Huskers Win Mid-Winter Invitational Title
Nebraska picked up its first tournament title of the season, winning the Mid-Winter Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark., the weekend of Jan. 13-15. NU went 9-2 on the weekend, defeating six ranked teams in the process. The Mid-Winter Invitational field featured 10 ranked teams, including eight of the top-10 teams in the nation. Nebraska defeated McKendree in the opening round of the championship tournament, and then took down the Bearcats again in the final, 4-2. Meghan Straub paced the Huskers with an average of 210 to finish second overall, while Julia Bond was right behind with an average of 209.6 for a third-place finish.

Bond Wins U.S. Amateur Championship, Named to Team USA
Julia Bond was crowned United States Amateur Bowling Champion and was named to Team USA for the 2017 season after winning the women’s U.S. Amateur final at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Team USA Trials the week of Jan. 4-8 in Henderson, Nev. Bond finished fourth overall at the trials with 54 ranking points. Kayla Johnson, a Husker from 2010-2012, was also named to Team USA for the 2017 season by the National Selection Committee based on her performances throughout the week, while Shannon Pluhowsky, who competed for Nebraska from 2000-05, was selected by the National Selection Committee based on her submitted resume. Husker senior Gazmine Mason and junior Kelly Belzeski also competed at the trials.

Looking Ahead
Nebraska
 will host the annual Big Red Invitational next Thursday through Saturday at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln. The Huskers have finished first in overall pinfall at the tournament in each of the last two seasons. The tournament will feature 10 teams, including each of the top three teams in the country and six ranked teams overall. The list of teams competing includes the Huskers, No. 2 Arkansas State, No. 3 McKendree, No. 11 Central Missouri, No. 14 Wisconsin-Whitewater, No. 23 Valparaiso, Drury, Maryville, Lincoln Memorial and Lincoln (Mo.). Thursday’s action starts at 5:30 p.m., with four sets of five-game Baker matches, followed by five team games on Friday at 10:25 a.m. and a two-round best-of-seven Baker format championship tournament on Saturday at 8:25 a.m. Promotional activities for Thursday’s action include a free slice of pizza and a drink for the first 100 fans, a student drawing for Beats headphones and other prizes. Admission to the tournament is free all weekend.

Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational - Teams Competing
No. 1 Nebraska
No. 11 Central Missouri
Drury
Elmhurst
Maryville
Lincoln (Mo.)

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