BELTON, Mo. – Adding another layer of legitimacy and authority for a young program, the Avila bowling teams hosted the inaugural KCAC/AMC/GPAC Bowling Championships at Aaron’s Family Fun Center in Belton this Saturday and Sunday, with an automatic berth into the NAIA Championships on the line.
Unlike larger, more established sports such as basketball or volleyball, none of these three NAIA leagues have enough bowling teams to be granted an automatic berth into the NAIA tournament, so the three conferences (KCAC, AMC and GPAC) unofficially combined for one weekend only, sending all of their eligible men’s and women’s bowling teams to Aaron’s for one straightforward weekend tournament to crown a combined league champion.
The tournament rules were pretty clear-cut: all teams would bowl five sets of Baker games – total of 20 games – on Saturday to determine seeding for bracket play on Sunday. There, the teams would face off in a double-elimination, best-of-five knockout round to determine a champion. The stakes were even clearer: the winner of each bracket received an automatic bid into the NAIA national tournament, while every other team will have to hope their resumes are strong enough to earn an at-large selection.
Both Avila teams started strong in their home bowling center on Saturday, placing in the top four of their respective fields after three Baker sets, but the rest of the competition rose up as the day rolled on, sinking Avila to sixth place out of nine total qualified teams (only eight per side actually fielded teams) after Saturday.
That meant both Eagle teams would need to battle from the bottom half of the bracket to have a chance, and both teams fared fairly well on Sunday. The Avila women fell to #3-seed Hastings in the first round but rebounded to defeat #7 Morningside in the consolation bracket. The Eagles’ run was ended was #5-seed Missouri Baptist, which went on a bit of a run to advance to the final three – but the final was ultimately between #1 Ottawa and #2 Midland, with the Braves prevailing to win the auto bid.
The Avila men got their Sunday off to a strong start, upending third-seeded Missouri Baptist in an exciting five-set showdown. The Eagles ran into a tough draw, however, falling to a rather vociferous #2 Midland before coming up just short against #4 Ottawa in the consolations. Midland ended up making the final where they were taken down by #5-seed Kansas Wesleyan in a final game decider, giving the KCAC both of…
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