Growing up, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Newham and St. Francis’ Abby Ragsdale bowled in the same youth leagues at Parkside Bowl in Aurora.
Now, they will be bowling in the Intercollegiate Singles Championship next month in Baton Rouge, LA, as the lone two representatives from Illinois to compete at the national tournament.
“It is super cool,” Ragsdale said. “We used to bowl together in youth leagues and it is good to see us both bowling well in college. I’m happy for her.”
“There are definitely a lot of good bowlers in the area,” Newham said. “I bowled with her in youth leagues at Parkside.”
While they are both competing at nationals, they did so after advancing from different sectionals.
Newham, a sophomore at Vanderbilt, shot a 1,227 to place fifth of six advancers at the Smyrna Sectional. Her third game score of 244 put her in position to advance and she was able to qualify by 37 pins.
“It feels great and I’m really excited to qualify, especially with a teammate and to represent the school,” Newham said. “It is going to be a good experience.”
Her experience at the sectional last year as a freshman helped her this time around.
“I was nervous last year,” the Metea Valley alum said. “I wanted to stay in the present this year and have no regrets. I took it one shot at a time. Having my coaches there to help me was beneficial. I don’t look at scores, but I had an idea where I was in the last game but I didn’t look until the end.”
At nationals, Newham hopes to represent her school and state well. After finishing in the top six at Jr. Gold last year, she also has the experience of bowling in a big-time individual tournament.
“The goal is to win, but I want to have a good showing and represent the school positively,” she said. “When you bowl in bigger tournaments, it helps you get ready for future big tournaments.”
Ragsdale made her mark in the Addison Sectional, where she was sixth of nine qualifiers with a 1,226. She was very consistent throughout the six games, bowling between 193 and 212.
“It is really cool to advance,” said Ragsdale, a freshman. “I was surprised. There was a lot of tough competition. I know that a lot of hard work paid off and my teammates really helped me. I have never been bowling better. I stayed calm and took things one shot at a time and stayed on each frame and tried to be as consistent as possible.”
Ragsdale will now get a taste of nationals next month.
“The end goal is to win,” she said. “I think it was great to prove to myself that I could do it and advance. It is cool to make it there and have that experience.”
Ragsdale will also be competing in the team portion as USF advanced as a team Sunday after getting the fourth and final qualifying spot with a 64-gam Baker total of 12,353. Wisconsin-Whitewater won with a 12,621.
“The team qualifying was even better,” Ragsdale said. “Today we just focused on our game. It was close and the pins fell in our favor today. Another thing that makes us great is we used all eight of us and we have specialty bowlers who really helped us get through.”
After struggling last year at both the NAIA and ITC Nationals, the Saints go into the postseason this year with something to prove.
“We are definitely going in with something to prove,” Ragsdale said. “We know what we can do. We have gained confidence. We have a lot of veterans who will be going for the third time. Our goal is to win nationals.”
Newham is also hoping to compete with her team in a national tournament, as Vanderbilt appears to be likely bowling in the NCAA championships in Baton Rouge the week before the ITC and ISC championships there.
“I have a lot of faith in the team and we have a lot of talent,” she said. “I think we will do good.”
Joining the St. Francis women at nationals from Illinois are the McKendree men and women, the Robert Morris men and Lindenwood-Belleville men.
The Robert Morris men won comfortably in Addison with a 13,183 total. The McKendree women won in Smyrna with a 12,834. The McKendree men placed fourth with a 12,440 and Belleville was fourth in Dallas with a 12,279.