Sam Houston State defeated Arkansas State four games to none in the finals of the Track Kat Klash Classic to win the team championship in the Bearkats’ first home tournament hosted by Huntsville Lanes.
Coming into Sunday’s bracket play, the No. 6 ranked Red Wolves stood as the only unbeaten team (10-0) during the first two days of the Kat Klash. One of those wins was against the Bearkats in Saturday’s traditional team match format.
Sam Houston bounced back Sunday to knock off Arkansas State twice in best-of-seven Baker play including the four-game sweep in the finals by scores of 223-174, 194-127, 215-206 and 243-237.
The Bearkats opened Sunday bracket play with a 4-2 victory against the Red Wolves and a 4-0 sweep of Mississippi Valley State.
“The team did a great job of staying focused throughout the tournament,” Sam Houston head coach Brad Hagen said. “It was exciting to host the program’s first home tournament and we had great support from local fans. But there are a lot of distractions playing at home as well and we did a good job handling that.”
The Bearkats ended the Kat Klash with a 12-1 overall match record, upping their 2011-12 season NCAA match record to 40-12. The championship marked the second regular-season tournament win for the two-year old Sam Houston bowling program. The Kats won the Florida A&M event last season.
Sam Houston had to come from behind to win close games against the Red Wolves.
“We kept feeding off each other to pick up the momentum,” senior bowler Dayna Galganski said. “We never got down. Arkansas State was bowling faster than we were and we knew what we had to do to win. The best thing, however, is we came into today 0-2 for the year against them and now we’re even at 2-2.”
Vanderbilt defeated Nebraska 4-2 in the third-place playoff. Long Island placed fifth, followed by Stephen F. Austin, Monmouth, Jackson State, Louisiana Tech, Prairie View A&M, Alabama A&M, Grambling State and Mississippi Valley.
The Track Kat Klash Classic competed the fall semester schedule for the Bearkats. Sam Houston finished third in two other major tournaments, the Greater Ozark Invitational and the New Jersey Jamboree. Those performances combined with their victory at Huntsville Lanes could lift Sam Houston in the national rankings where the Kats now stand No. 7.
“We learned some things about ourselves in this event that will help us down the road,” Hagen said. “It was a great way to end the fall semester.”