BROOKLYN, New York – The 2016 NCAA national champion Stephen F. Austin bowling team has been tabbed as the No. 6 ranked team in the nation according to the National Tenpin Coaches Association's 2017-18 Preseason Poll. McKendree University was voted as the top-ranked team in the preseason poll after becoming the first NCAA Division II program in women's bowling history to claim the national title.
The Ladyjacks are ranked ahead of fellow Southland Bowling League teams Monmouth University (No. 13), Tulane University (No. 17) and Louisiana Tech, who is receiving votes in the preseason poll. Defending Southland Bowling League champion Vanderbilt University is fourth in the coaches' poll, while No. 3 Arkansas State and No. 5 Sam Houston State sit right above SFA to round out the top five.
Ending the 2016-17 season ranked No. 7 nationally after bowing out of the 2017 NCAA Championship's bracket play with a pair of 4-3 losses, the Ladyjacks reached the semifinals of the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) Intercollegiate Team Championships, their best finish at the national tournament since 2012. It marked the third top-four finish for SFA at a national tournament in the last three seasons after capturing the 2016 NCAA national title and earning the NCAA runner-up trophy in 2015.
The Ladyjacks return a total of seven letter winners from a year ago, including three-time NTCA All-American First Team honoree senior Stephanie Schwartz (Racine, Wis.), who recently claimed four gold medals at the Pan American Confederation Youth Championship for USBC Junior Team USA. SFA also welcomes back fellow seniors Kelsi Anderson (San Antonio, Texas) and Morgan Reising (Lewisville, Texas), juniors Paige Beeney (Salado, Texas) and Dakotah Hazlewood(Capron, Ill.), and sophomores Megan Eaglehouse (Cibolo, Texas) and Amber Whitcomb (Austin, Texas). Four freshmen will be competing for the Purple and White for the first time as Dakota Faichnie (Innisfil, Ontairo), Sarah Gill (Attleboro, Mass.), Annie Leihardt (Georgetown, Texas) and Sarah Voiers (Chesterton, Ind.) have joined the Ladyjacks.
SFA begins the fall portion of its 2017-18 season Friday-Sunday, Oct. 20-22, in New Orleans, Louisiana, competing at Tulane's Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Invite.