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WICHITA, Kan. – Since 7 Shockers showed up at the ISC (Intercollegiate Singles Championship) three weeks ago at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nev., there were plenty of opportunities in which a Shocker could bring home a national title. Both the semi-final and final rounds were taped for national telecast on CBS Sports Network.
Qualifying for the ISC took place at the sectional tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, just one month prior to the ISC. Junior Heather Melvin and seniors Allie Ijams, Kelsey Muther and Tannya Roumimper were among the lady Shockers who qualified. Sophomore Zach Rhoades, junior Francois Lavoie and senior Devin Bidwell qualified for the men.
After 8 games of qualifying, the players were seeded in a three-game total pin single elimination bracket.
Unfortunately, Rhoades did not find his reaction and was eliminated from the tournament with a 633 series to Webber International University’s Gabriel Garcia-Rinelli’s 659.
“I couldn’t quite figure the lanes out but it was still a lot of fun,” he said. “I was proud that I stayed mentally tough throughout the tournament and covered my spares. It was a challenge and I definitely learned yet another aspect of my game that I can improve upon for future tournaments.”
Bidwell started his match play portion strong, firing a 657 series to knock out his opponent. But, in the second round, things shaped up differently. He fell to number 1 seed Chris Via of Notre Dame College, 709-654.
“Chris Via strikes a lot,” Bidwell said. “I couldn’t quite get the pins down enough the first couple games and fell behind. By the time I was matched up, it was too late.”
Lavoie, who finished qualifying in the top 8, earned a round 1 bye. He never looked back after he started his matches in round 2. He won with 679-519 and, in round 3, 733-599.
Lavoie cruised through the semi-final match on the telecast, staying clean and shooting a 244 to Garcia-Rinelli’s 206. The final match proved exciting as Lavoie spared the 5-7 split in the 7th frame and the 2-10 split in the 9th frame for a clean 217 and the ISC title.
“I didn’t treat it as something bigger than it needed to be,” he said. “Then I took the trophy and my teammates came up to celebrate with me. That’s when I realized I had won a national title.”
This title marks the 8th ISC title for WSU (Wichita State University) which adds up to a total of 27 national championships between team and singles competition.
The ladies side hosted plenty more drama.
Two of the four lady Shockers in the ISC finals were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Muther was eliminated by teammate Roumimper, 679-656. Ijams waited patiently to see how her fate unfolded when Webber International University’s Diana Zavjalova stepped up in the fill ball of game three, needing a strike to eliminate Ijams. As the 2-pin rolled late, Ijams ISC experience came to an end.
Melvin, who finished near the bottom position after qualifying, had a different plan when going into match play.
“It felt amazing to be the underdog and fight my way through to the TV finals,” she said. “I knew I had it in me to do it, I just had to show everybody else.”
Melvin won her matches with scores of 601, 734 and 736. Due to the bracket, Melvin was set to face teammate Roumimper for the first telecast match.
In the semi-final match, spares were a premium. Roumimper snuck by Melvin 203-184.
The final match was heart breaking as Roumimper’s clean 247 was no match to Zavjalova’s 290. Roumimper managed a bittersweet second place.
“Both years I had to face my own teammate before the final match,” Roumimper said. “Although the final match was not in my favor, I know I left everything on the lanes. I bowled great. I believe failure is a step closer to being a champion.”
The Rhatigan Student Center has been the major financial and administrative supporter of the Wichita State University bowling program since 1959.