St. Francis wins NAIA National Title

In just its fourth year as a program, the University of St. Francis women’s bowling team brought home a national title after winning the NAIA Tournament April 2.

Not only did the Saints win, they did so in impressively, going undefeated during the tournament.

“It has been fun calling ourselves national champs, and at the same time, it is a little surreal,” Lockport graduate Lauren Troha said.

“It was pretty cool that on the way home we had a police escort,” Lockport alum Nicole Troha said. “It was really cool to see people waiting there to congratulate us, even though we didn’t get back until 10.”

To win the title the No. 2 seeded Saints beat top seeded Pikeville, a perennial power in the NAIA, 3-2 and 3-0, avoiding the winner-take-all final match.

In the process of the title, freshman Abby Ragsdale of Oswego East was named the MVP of the tournament.

The win was especially special for the three seniors Courtney Fowler (Lockport), Lauren Troha and Sara Michalowicz (Glenbard East), who spent their entire career building the varsity program.

“I thought it was really cool for us who started the program to be able to finish it this way,” Fowler said. “To be one of the originals, it was really special for us three.”

The trio was joined on the varsity squad throughout the year by fellow seniors Allyson Lakota (Minooka), Autumn Lee (Plainfield Central) and Lauren Douglas, junior Nicole Troha and Ragsdale.

The tournament win was redemption from last year, where they were sent home early with a pair of losses to lower seeded teams.

“I know there are a lot of upperclassmen, but I think the underclassmen have a really special bond with us,” Fowler said. “They wanted to do it with this team because of the bond we all shared together.”

Now the Saints will turn their attention to the Intercollegiate Team Championships, which take place next week in Baton Rouge.

“Going into this one, we are going to have a big target on our back,” Lauren Troha said. “We have to be even more tuned in.”

“We have to be extra sharp for this one,” Nicole Troha added. “When you win a national championship, all eyes will be on you and they will be talking about us. We still have something to prove from last year because we didn’t bowl how we wanted there, either. We can’t take anything for granted because we know it can slip through our fingers.”

United Township alum and St. Ambrose sophomore Kayla Crawford was an all-tournament selection.

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