INDIANAPOLIS– A day after revealing women’s lacrosse as its 23rd sponsored sport, the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) announced Wednesday it will begin sponsoring women’s bowling as its 24th sport for the upcoming year.
The inaugural season of GLVC women’s bowling will feature seven institutions, including full-time league members Drury University, Lewis University, Maryville University and McKendree University, as well as associate members University of Central Missouri, Lincoln University and Upper Iowa University.
Five of the seven aforementioned programs – Central Missouri, Drury, Lincoln, Maryville and McKendree – competed under the banner of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) over the course of the last three seasons.
McKendree has reached the final match of the Intercollegiate Team Championship in each of the past three seasons. Under the direction of head coach Shannon O’Keefe, the Bearcats earned the national title in 2017, scored a runner-up finish in 2018, and was edged 3-2 in the 2019 title match by Robert Morris University (Ill.) this past April. One month prior to nationals, McKendree swept Central Missouri 4-0 to claim its second consecutive MIAA Championship.
Central Missouri made a spirited run at the 2019 MIAA Championships as the Jennies won four straight elimination games before falling to McKendree in the final. It was the third Championship in a row that Central Missouri and McKendree faced off for the MIAA crown. Head coach Ron Holmes will be entering his 20th season in 2019-20, having earned the 2003 Intercollegiate Bowling Championships national title, the 2017 MIAA crown, and three national runner-up finishes (2004, 2005, 2009) throughout his career.
Larry Hughes has served as the head coach at Drury for all four years of the program history, including the last three under the NCAA banner. He guided the Panthers to third place at the MIAA Championships in 2017, followed by a pair of fourth-place results the past two seasons. Drury will compete in the GLVC’s inaugural season in memory of teammate Caroline Conrad, who tragically passed away in an auto accident last week.
Maryville placed third at the 2019 MIAA Championship after picking up wins in the first two rounds against Lincoln and Central Missouri. The Saints were then edged 4-3 by McKendree and eliminated 4-1 by Central Missouri. Brandi Branka, who bowled collegiately at McKendree for four years where she was named first team All-American in 2010-11 and 2011-12, has served as Maryville’s head coach since the Saints began competition in the 2015-16 academic year.
It was a successful first season for the Lewis Flyers as they finished the 2018-19 campaign ranked No. 37 in the NCAA RPI, brought home two runner-up trophies from NCAA tournaments and made match play at a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) tournament. Head coach Scott Taylor enters his second season directing the Flyers.
Lincoln concluded the program’s fourth season this past year with a sixth-place finish at the MIAA Championships. Brian Lillevold will guide the Blue Tigers into the league as an associate member, which marks the second time Lincoln has competed under the GLVC banner. The Blue Tigers were an associate member in football from 2014-18.
Nichole DePaul-Miller will be leading Upper Iowa in its inaugural season of women’s bowling this year. DePaul-Miller was hired in May 2018 as the first-ever head coach for the men’s and women’s programs, which are the 17th and 18th sport programs for the Peacocks.
All seven programs will advance to the inaugural GLVC Bowling Championship, which will take place at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville, Illinois, March 21-22, 2020.
In addition, Quincy University announced last month it will add both men’s and women’s bowling beginning with the 2020-21 academic year.
For more information on GLVC women’s bowling, stay tuned online at GLVCsports.com and @GLVCsports (#GLVCwbowl) on Twitter throughout the year.