2011-2012 Women’s Bowling Preview

By Alex Johanesen

The NJCU Women’s Bowling team went into the 2011-12 Pre-season and ranked #10 nationally. The poll was released by the NTCA. The ranking is not good enough for the Gothic Knights bowling team.

“I’m not pleased about it.  Because the committee feels that way we just have a lot to prove to them.  We have to prove that we are better than what they think.  We are so much better than what the ranking says,” explained Jennifer Daunno, a four year veteran of the team and a 21 year-old Early Childhood Education and Special Education major from Carteret, NJ.

This is the lowest pre-season ranking NJCU has ever experienced in its 12 year history  and the team is tired of being underestimated.

Last season, the team experienced an early ending to another winning season (84-35).  Despite being ranked 6th nationally, they were not picked as one of the 8 teams to advance to the NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship.
“I felt bitterly disappointed and upset,” said women’s bowling coach Frank Parisi, who has been with the team for all twelve seasons. “We deserved to be at Nationals.  We were one of the top eight teams in the country.

Their #6 ranking of last year was the highest ranking of any team not to make the NCAA Tournament.  They finished 5-3 against Fairleigh Dickinson University, the first place team and defending NCAA champions, and had winning records against other NCAA selections, such as Sam Houston State (2-0) and Central Missouri (2-1).  A 12-year NCAA tournament streak was snapped prematurely.

“It was an awful feeling to see our only senior’s career end like that.  I was so upset for her.  It was heart breaking,” said Daunno.
Daunno does not want her final season to end the same way.  And now going into the season ranked #10 gives them the more reason for them to win this year.  Seven team members are returning, which make up four of the five starters from 2010-2011.
“We are very balanced in talent and experience.  I expect to make Nationals this year and get back to the top four.  We’ve made it every even year,” said Parisi.

In fact, they have made Nationals in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.  And in 2004 and 2008 they found themselves in the top three.  2012 seems like a perfect time as any. “The coaching philosophy Rusty Thomsen and I follow is to focus on what we can control and what we can do, since in our sport there’s no defense,” said Parisi.

In an effort to grasp a NCAA tournament position once again the Gothic Knights will have to come together and show every school they face what their intentions are.

“I will be working out at the gym, putting all my effort into practices to make sure I’m doing everything right and giving 110 percent every time I have my bowling ball in my hand,” said Daunno, who has seen what it takes to get there. “To make nationals is an amazing feeling.  The NCAA only chooses eight teams in the country.  For us to have been one of them makes me feel very proud to be part of the team and proud to know we are just as good as all the Division I, II, and III schools.”

The senior knows the experience well from her freshman and sophomore years (2009 and 2010).  And the promising newcomers to the powerhouse team can only thirst for what she has achieved.  Their contributions can make the team that much better.
“I want to be the best team player I can be and support the girls in any way I can,” said 18 year-old undeclared freshman Sonja Shirak of Clifton, NJ. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls.”

With enough talent, drive, and chemistry to push the Gothic Knights toward another dominating season, there is no reason not to expect to see the underestimated team quickly climb the rankings as they begin their assault on any team that stands in their way.