For the second straight year, the elite teams of college bowling competed under the bright lights of the PBA Tour. The 2023 PBA Collegiate Championships featured an expanded field and a women’s division.

The 12 teams were invited based on their Dec. 26, 2022 rankings in the USBC Collegiate’s Online Team Ranking System. They competed in bracket play at Royal Pin Expo Bowl on the all-new 42’ PBA Steelsmith oil pattern.

The two finalists in the men’s and women’s division advanced to the televised championship matches, which aired this afternoon on FS1. The TV finals were held at Royal Pin Woodland, the host of the 2023 U.S. Open presented by Go Bowling!

Women’s Division

The Wichita State Shockers defeated the Mount Mercy Mustangs, 2-0, to win the women’s division of the PBA Collegiate Championships.

The Shockers were the top ranked women’s team in the nation heading into the tournament, earning the No. 1 seed for the bracket. They defeated St. Francis (Illinois) 4-1 in the semifinal to advance to the TV finals.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs took down Trine and Pikeville, each a seven-game thriller, to reach the title match.

Wichita State’s Brooklyn Gagnon and Mount Mercy’s Megan Kolberg exchanged strikes to open the TV finals. The Shockers held an early lead as each team struck in four of the first five frames, but the scoring pace slowed down in the second half.

The first game of the Race-to-Two format came down to the anchors, where Madison Janack came up clutch for the Shockers. She doubled in the 10th, then knocked down nine pins on the fill ball to lock up the Game 1 victory.

After opening in the first frame of Game 2, Kolberg and Jenna Wiliams tallied strikes for the Mustangs. But Juliana Botero’s 3-10 conversion in the fourth and another Janack strike put Wichita State in front. Olivia Komorowski kept the Shockers ahead with a strike in the eighth.

Mount Mercy’s Jaelle Hamman wouldn’t let her squad go down easily. She threw all three strikes in the 10th frame, just as she did in Game 1, to put the pressure back on the Shockers.

Two years ago, Janack struck out to secure the 2021 Intercollegiate Team Championships title. This time, she just needed a mark.

After leaving a 10-pin, Janack converted the spare to win the PBA Collegiate Championships.

“I just love pressure situations,” Janack said. “I feel like I thrive so well in those because I am so mentally tough now. Like 16-year-old Madison, there's no way I could do that.”

The 2021 NCBCA Player of the Year missed most of the 2021-22 season battling a back injury. She said she’s back to near-100% and has returned to her role as anchor.

“We definitely missed her, but it also gave some others some opportunities to step up,” said Holly Harris, Wichita State’s head coach. “So now it's nice to know that we've got three, four or five of them that can do it at any given moment. Adding (Janack) back into that mix is huge.”

Men’s Division

Indiana Tech celebrates as Alex Horton delievers a key strike.

On the men’s side, the Indiana Tech Warriors started a lineup of all freshmen and sophomores and defeated the experienced Wichita State men 2-0.

Indiana Tech, the No. 4 seed, swept Bob Learn Jr.’s Tennessee Southern squad in the quarterfinals, before taking down Bryce Oliver and top-seeded Pikeville in seven games to reach the finals.

The Shocker men, champions of last year’s inaugural PBA Collegiate Invitational, earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. They overcame a 3-2 deficit against Lawrence Tech in the semifinals.

Michael Harmon Jr., Bobby Habetler and Alex Horton each struck to give Indiana Tech the early lead over the defending champs. But a missed 4-pin from anchor James Bennett opened the door for the Shockers.

Ryan Barnes and TJ Rock struck in the seventh and eighth frames to help bring the Shockers back. However, Spencer Robarge, who made the 2021 USBC Masters finals as a high schooler, couldn’t get the 7-pin to fall in either frame as the Warriors took Game 1.

Harmon stayed hot for the Warriors, striking in both of his frames once again. A hang spot on the left lane gave Indiana Tech’s two-handers issues. Habetler left a 2-4-10 split in the seventh frame, then Bennett left a 2-10 in the 10th frame.

After the latter open frame, the match seemed destined for a roll-off.

Wichita State moved Rock to anchor and Robarge to fourth before the must-win game — but the lineup change backfired as the team switched lanes. The left-handed Robarge struck on both attempts, while Rock opened both frames, including a missed 10-pin in the 10th that ended the match.

Chemistry proved to be the difference for the young and fearless Warriors.

“Ever since the get-go, we just meshed super well,” Harmon said. “We’ve got great guys that are just so appreciative of the moment and are just there and we'll support you, no matter what. I feel like that's definitely what helps us and differentiates us from other teams.”

Final Scores

Game 1: Wichita State def. Mount Mercy, 213-211
Game 2: Wichita State def. Mount Mercy, 190-184

Game 1: Indiana Tech def. Wichita State, 204-175
Game 2: Indiana Tech def. Wichita State, 172-168