Lincoln native Meghan Straub and the Huskers will welcome 10 teams to the Big Red Invitational this Thursday through Saturday at Sun Valley Lanes.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Set to Host Big Red Invitational

By NU Athletic Communications

#1 Nebraska Cornhuskers at Big Red Invitational

Thursday-Saturday, March 2-4 – 5:30 p.m., 10:25 a.m., 8:25 a.m. (CT) – Lincoln, Neb. (Sun Valley Lanes)

Huskers Set to Host Big Red Invitational
The top-ranked Nebraska bowling team is ready to host the annual Big Red Invitational this Thursday through Saturday at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers have finished first overall in total pinfall at the tournament in both of the last two seasons. The tournament marks Nebraska’s final regular-season competition before the NCAA Championship in April.

The tournament will feature 10 teams, including each of the top three teams in the nation and six ranked teams in the latest National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 Poll.

In addition to the Huskers, second-ranked Arkansas State and No. 3 McKendree will also bowl at Sun Valley Lanes this weekend. No. 11 Central Missouri, No. 14 Wisconsin-Whitewater and No. 23 Valparaiso will also be represented at the tournament. Drury, Maryville, Lincoln Memorial and Lincoln (Mo.) round out the list of teams bowling this weekend.

NU is coming off its fourth tournament victory in five tries this season, after taking the Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational championship last weekend. Kelly Belzeski won her first tournament title, finishing first overall with a 226.6 average, while Julia Bond finished second with an average of 226.4. The Huskers went 9-1 on the weekend with a total pinfall of 10,450.

Thursday’s action starts at 5:30 p.m., with four sets of five-game Baker matches, followed by five team games on Friday starting 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.

Big Red Invitational Notes
Nebraska is hosting the Big Red Invitational for the seventh time in eight seasons. The Huskers have finished first in overall pinfall at the tournament in both of the last two seasons, and have finished in the top four at each of the six tournaments. Julia Bond and Gazmine Mason each were named to the all-tournament team last season, as Bond finished with a 223.4 average and Mason posted a 208.3 average. Bond placed sixth overall two seasons ago with a 211.2 average, while Liz Kuhlkin finished second overall with an average of 222.5. Sun Valley Lanes was also the site of the 2016 World Bowling Youth Championships, where Bond and Mason won a combined total of eight medals representing the United States, while Raquel Orozco competed for Team Mexico.

Belzeski Leads Huskers to Mid-America Invite Title
Nebraska won its fourth tournament title of the season last weekend at the Central Missouri Mid-America Invitational. The Huskers went 9-1 on the weekend, with the only loss coming by one pin to No. 11 Central Missouri. NU posted a total pinfall of 10,450 on the weekend, led by Kelly Belzeski who won her first tournament title with an average of 226.6. Julia Bond finished second overall with an average of 226.4, while Meghan Straub rounded out an NU sweep of top three with an average of 200.

Huskers, Bond Take First Place at Crusader Classic
Nebraska won its third tournament in four tries at the Crusader Classic the weekend of Feb. 17-19, 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 the weekend of Feb. 10-12. 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.

Looking Ahead
The Big Red Invitational marks the last tournament of the regular season for Nebraska. The Huskers will await selection to the 2017 NCAA Bowling Championship, with the 2017 NCAA Bowling Selection Show to take place on March 29 at 3 p.m. (CT). The show will be broadcast live on The NCAA Championship is set for April 13-15 at River Center Baton Rouge in Baton Rouge, La. Nebraska has qualified for the NCAA Championship in each of the 13 seasons that bowling has been an NCAA-sponsored sport, while claiming five championships in that time period.

Big Red Invitational - Teams Competing
No. 1 Nebraska
No. 2 Arkansas State
No. 3 McKendree
No. 11 Central Missouri
No. 14 Wisconsin-Whitewater
No. 23 Valparaiso
Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln (Mo.)


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