Arkansas State University's official logo (Source: www.astate.edu)
FRISCO, TX (ASU) – The Arkansas State Athletics Department announced Tuesday that its women's bowling team has joined seven other programs in the newly-created Southland Bowling League.
A-State's membership in the league, which will provide an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship in the near future, is effective immediately.
The Red Wolves will join Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, Monmouth University, Tulane, Valparaiso, and Vanderbilt in the new league. A-State currently sports a record of 51-17 and is ranked third in the latest National Tenpin Coaches Association Poll. Sam Houston State (fifth), Vanderbilt (sixth), and Stephen F. Austin (eighth) are all ranked in the top 10, while Valparaiso (15th) and Tulane (20th) are also ranked.
“It's a great honor to be in a league with so many elite teams,” A-State women's head bowling coach Justin Kostick said. “Sam Houston State, Valparaiso, and Vanderbilt, along with us, have all made NCAA Tournament appearances and Stephen F. Austin has been close the past couple of seasons. There is a lot of tradition with the teams joining this league and we're looking forward to competing for championships this season and in the future.”
The Southland Bowling League will not conduct regular-season competition, but will instead hold a single championship tournament. The inaugural 2015 event will be held at Del Mar Lanes in Houston, Texas, on March 21-22. The competitive format will be similar to the one followed at the NCAA Championship.
By formalizing as league, the association can qualify for an NCAA automatic bid no later than the 2017 national championship. Until an automatic qualification is provided, Southland Bowling League members will be at-large candidates for the NCAA Championship.
While the Southland Conference will provide administrative oversight of this new association, the Southland Bowling League will operate independently from regular conference operations.
Arkansas State has competed as an independent in women's bowling since the first year of the program in the 2004-05 season and has qualified as an at-large team to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven seasons.
Arkansas State is coming off a second-place finish in the squad's host tournament, the Mid-Winter Invitational, after falling to Maryland Eastern Shore by a score of 4-2 in the final Jan. 18. The Red Wolves travel to Reading, Penn., for the Kutztown Invitational Jan. 23-25. Fans can keep up with the Arkansas State women's bowling team by following them on Twitter (@stAtebowling) and by liking the Arkansas State Women's Bowling page on Facebook.