BY DENNIS BERGENDORF
So many collegiate teams wanted to be a part of the 50th anniversary Columbia 300 Hoosier Classic that it sold out its 144 slots almost immediately, and another 47 teams went on the wait list.
The event, scheduled for Feb. 15-17 at Indianapolis’s Western Bowl, is the final Tier 1 event of the 2018-19 United States Bowling Congress Collegiate season.
Billy Murphy, coach of the defending women’s champion Newman University Jets, said, “It’s the culmination of the year. All the best teams in the country are there. If you win that tournament, you’ve really done something.”
Seventy-eight men’s teams and 66 women’s will roll six standard qualifying games on Saturday, then come back Sunday for 15 Baker games. The fields in each division will be trimmed to the top eight teams, which will bowl single-elimination, best-of-three matches. The final two teams will bowl best-of-five for their respective titles.
The winners will get to autograph the custom masking unit above the championship pair. Tournament director Nick Hoagland says, “Every year teams are super, super excited to win and sign it.”
Co-sponsor Kegel will have two lane machines putting down patterns that won’t be announced until an hour before each squad.
The weekend is a bowling festival of sorts, beginning with an Ebonite Bowling International Demo Day on Friday afternoon, followed by the Lee Johnson Memorial Eliminator sweeper. The National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association and the NAIA Coaches will meet that night.
The Classic also serves as a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, which plans to send a 5-year-old girl who is battling leukemia to Disney World.
Though the event is not affiliated with Indiana University, Hoosier bowling team alumni will hold a 50th reunion Saturday.