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McKendree men’s team wins second Intercollegiate Team Championships title

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For the second time in three years, the McKendree men’s team claimed the title at the Intercollegiate Team Championships.

Making its third consecutive appearance in the men’s title match, McKendree took a 3-1 victory over Robert Morris-Illinois in the best-of-five Baker match held at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska. The title match was televised Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.

The Bearcats won their first ITC title in 2016 before a runner-up finish in 2017.

“The feeling we had last year after we lost, that was something we didn’t want to experience again,” sophomore anchor Charlie Reid said. “Coming into today, we just wanted to fill frames and execute shots the best we can. If the pins fall in our favor, they fall in our favor. It’s bowling … you just never know what’s going to happen.”

Robert Morris-Illinois, which won the 2013 ITC by beating McKendree in the final, took the opening game of the 2018 title match, 226-193.

The Eagles then grabbed an early lead in Game 2, holding a 14-pin advantage after the anchors of each team opened in the fifth frame. But, the Eagles did not convert a 3-6-10 spare leave in the ninth frame, giving McKendree a chance. Needing a strike and eight pins to even the series, the left-handed Reid buried the first two shots in a 187-173 win.

“That was clutch,” McKendree coach Dennis Knepper said. “That was the turning point. But, seriously, these guys knew he was going to do it. You could feel it from the team. He just looked like he had all the confidence in the world. It was awesome.”

While McKendree struck three times in the first five frames of Game 3, Robert Morris-Illinois produced just one strike and had two opens in the first seven frames as the Bearcats took the game, 181-159, for a 2-1 lead.

Both teams continued to fight against the changing lane conditions in the opening frames of Game 4, and Robert Morris-Illinois took a 15-pin lead after McKendree opened in the third and fourth frames. McKendree sophomore Bryan Hahlen capped a four-strike run by the Bearcats in the eighth frame on their way to a 195-160 win and the Helmer Cup.

“Four years of a lot of learning, a lot of bowling,” McKendree senior Greg Young said. “My sophomore year, when we won, my motivation was to do it for the seniors because we knew how badly they wanted it. Being able to feel what they felt, going out with a win, is awesome.”

In addition to Young, Hahlen and Reid, the McKendree team had graduate student Matthew Farber, senior Billy Goodman, juniors Alex Martin and Thorsten Przychocki and sophomore Andrew Cannuli.

Young was selected to the ITC men’s all-tournament team and was joined by Kenny Ryan of Robert Morris-Illinois, who earned MVP honors, Lindenwood’s Michael Coffey, Josh Pate of Wisconsin-Whitewater and William Paterson’s Jake Rollins.

The 16 men’s teams earned their way into the ITC field by finishing in the top four at one of four sectional events held in March. At the national tournament, all teams bowled 24 Baker qualifying games to determine seeding for the double-elimination bracket, which featured best-of-seven Baker matches leading up to the finals.

BOWL.com’s BowlTV provided live coverage of the ITC leading up to the televised finals. Click here for more information on the Intercollegiate Team Championships.

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Herbert Bickel

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