The defending NCAA champion Nebraska bowling squad topped the 2013-14 preseason poll conducted by the National Ten Pin Coaches Association released Wednesday.
The Cornhuskers received 19 of the 26 first place votes to tally 744 poll points, well ahead of second-place Vanderbilt, who was last year’s national runner-up. NU returns four starters from the national championship team, including All-American and Junior Team USA member Liz Kuhlkin, as they begin their chase a fifth national title since the sport since the NCAA began sponsorship in 2003-04.
Kuhlkin returns as one of the top bowlers in the country after recording a team-high 214.9 average throughout her sophomore season. She had a pinfall average of 219.8 at the 2013 NCAA Championships, earning the NCAA Championship Most Valuable Bowler honors.
Senior Yan Ling also returns for the Huskers, and could be one of the key bowlers as Nebraska looks to repeat as national champions. The senior from Singapore came through in a big way on the season’s biggest stage at the NCAA Championships in 2012-13. She finished with a 200.5 average in the NCAA title match.
The Commodores received two first-place votes and had 671 points. Central Missouri, which was No. 1 much of last season, came in third and received three first-place ballots while Arkansas State was fourth after receiving the other two first-place votes. Maryland-Eastern Shore was fifth. Rounding out the Top 10 were Sam Houston State, Fairleigh Dickinson, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Stephen F. Austin and Saint Francis University.
The poll marks the beginning of the 2013-14 NCAA bowling season, as the Huskers opened up practice at the Nebraska East Campus Bowling Facility Monday afternoon. The Huskers’ first competition is Nov. 8, when they travel to the Crusader Classic in Valparaiso, Ind.