NCAA Bowling Championship

The NCAA Bowling Championship is a sanctioned women's championship in college athletics. Unlike many NCAA sports, only one championship is held each season with teams from Division I, Division II, and Division III competing together. Twelve teams, eight of them automatic qualifiers and the other four being at-large selections, are chosen by the NCAA Bowling Committee to compete in the championships. The championship was first held in April 2004.

NCAA Bowling Championship
SportCollege Bowling
No. of teams83 (regular season, 2019)
12 (championship, 2019)
Most recent
Stephen F. Austin (2)
Most titlesNebraska (5)
TV partner(s)ESPNU

The most successful team is Nebraska with 5 titles. The reigning champions are Stephen F. Austin (SFA), which won the 2019 title 4 games to 1 against the defending champions Vanderbilt. This is SFA's second NCAA Bowling Championship.

Nebraska is the only program to qualify for all 16 NCAA Bowling Championships.[1]


The collegiate bowling season runs from late October through the end of March, and the National Collegiate Women's Bowling Championship is held in April.

Through 2017

The format for the championships from 2004-2017 began with qualifying rounds in which each team bowled one five-person regular team game against each of the other seven teams participating in the championship.

Teams would then be seeded for bracket play based on their qualifying rounds win-loss record and then competed in best-of-seven-games Baker matches in a double elimination tournament. In the Baker format, each of the five team members, in order, bowls one frame until a complete (10-frame) game is bowled. A Baker match tied 3½ games to 3½ games after seven games is decided by a tiebreaker, using the Modified Baker format, which takes the scoring from only frames 6 thru 10.[2]

From 2018

In previous years, all eight participants received at-large bids. In 2018 the NCAA Women's Bowling Committee selected a field of ten participants. Six teams are automatic qualifiers from the conferences that have been granted an automatic bid, and the other four receive at-large bids. At that time, the six conferences that fulfilled the criteria to be granted an automatic qualifier were the Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Northeast Conference, Southland Bowling League, and Southwestern Athletic Conference, plus the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and East Coast Conference. The ten participants were ranked and seeded based on the criteria used by the selection committee. The top six seeds automatically entered the championship bracket. The four lowest-seeded teams played in on-campus opening round matches to determine the two participants advancing to the eight-team championship bracket. To minimize travel costs, the matchups were determined by geographical proximity rather than seedings.[3]

In 2019, the championship field expanded from 10 to 12 teams, coinciding with two new conferences fulfilling the criteria for automatic qualification—the Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Division III Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. Accordingly, eight conference champions will now receive automatic bids, and the NCAA Women's Bowling Committee will select four at-large teams to fill out the 12-team field. The top four teams will be seeded into the Championship bracket, while the eight remaining teams will compete in four play-in matches. The winners of these matches will then be seeded into the eight-team championship bracket.[4]

Qualifying rounds have been eliminated in favor of a seeded double elimination bracket. Each match within the bracket will consist of best-of-three matches using specified formats (five-person regular team matches, Baker total pinfall, and Baker match play).

The championship finals will be a best-of-seven match using Baker match play rules.[5] The tiebreaker rule used through 2017 will still apply to Baker match play in the new format.


NCAA National Collegiate Bowling Championship
Year Site Championship
Winner Score Runner-up Individual Games Most Outstanding Player Ref
Emerald Bowl
Nebraska 4–2 Central Missouri State 170–131, 160–208, 185–190, 239–150, 219–197, 215–173[Note 1] Shannon Pluhowsky, Nebraska [6]
Wekiva Lanes
Orlando, Florida
Nebraska 4–2 Central Missouri State 220–210, 247–266, 148–192, 205–190, 190–172, 235–184[Note 2] Amanda Burgoyne, Nebraska [7][8]
Emerald Bowl
Fairleigh Dickinson 4–1 Alabama A&M 209–165, 148–184, 172–165, 200–179, 196–165[Note 3] Lisa Friscioni, Fairleigh Dickinson [9]
Wekiva Lanes
Apopka, Florida
Vanderbilt 4–3 UMES 167–164, 242–166, 154–202, 148–170, 224–180, 178–235, 198–150[Note 4] Josie Earnest, Vanderbilt [10][11]
Thunder Alley
Omaha, Nebraska
UMES 4–2 Arkansas State 179–223, 200–181, 180–182, 217–164, 175–152, 174–170 Jessica Worsley, UMES [12][13]
Super Bowl Lanes
Canton, Michigan
Nebraska 4–1 Central Missouri 200–185, 149–198, 201–168, 201–177, 190–135 Cassandra Leuthold, Nebraska [14]
Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes
North Brunswick, New Jersey
Fairleigh Dickinson 4–3 Nebraska 209–167, 202–222, 203–213, 229–192, 201–222, 230–190, 208–174 Danielle McEwan, Fairleigh Dickinson [15]
Skore Lanes
Taylor, Michigan
UMES 4–2 Vanderbilt 215–197, 164–193, 201–248, 234–204, 235–166, 192–181 Kristina Frahm, UMES [16][17]
Freeway Lanes
Wickliffe, Ohio
UMES 4–2 Fairleigh Dickinson 222–204, 236–215, 167–249, 208–168, 170–223, 203–176 T'nia Falbo, UMES [18]
Super Bowl Lanes
Canton, Michigan
Nebraska 4½–2½ Vanderbilt 211–199, 186–197, 156–169, 190–190, 196–189, 202–182, 246–200 Liz Kuhlkin, Nebraska [19]
Game of Wickliffe
Wickliffe, Ohio
Sam Houston State 4–2 Nebraska 181-166, 182-187, 193-190, 189-197, 205-191, 195-165 Kimi Davidson,
Sam Houston State
Tropicana Lanes
Richmond Heights, Missouri
Nebraska 4–2 Stephen F. Austin 237-232, 178-253, 201-171, 179-188, 205-201, 195-154 Julia Bond, Nebraska [21][22]
2016 Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes
North Brunswick, New Jersey
Stephen F. Austin 4–3 Nebraska 193-205, 238-198, 265-242, 164-227, 196-187, 160-237, 247-192 Kiara Grant, Stephen F. Austin [23]
Raising Cane's River Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
McKendree 4–0 Nebraska 182-169, 244-192, 224-212, 240-223 Breanna Clemmer, McKendree [24]
Tropicana Lanes
Richmond Heights, Missouri
Vanderbilt 4–3 McKendree 224-204, 174-233, 182-193, 233-204, 203-255, 208-205, 220-191 Emily Rigney & Katie Stark, Vanderbilt [25]
RollHouse Wickliffe
Wickliffe, Ohio
Stephen F. Austin 4–1 Vanderbilt 167–183, 222–166, 203–175, 224–190, 213–202 Paige Beeney, Stephen F. Austin [26]
Thunderbowl Lanes
Allen Park, Michigan[27]
AMF Pro Lanes
North Kansas City, Missouri[28]
Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Columbus, Ohio[29]

Team titles

Fairleigh Dickinson
Sam Houston State
Stephen F. Austin
Schools with national championships
– 5 championships, – 3 championships
– 2 championships, – 1 championship
Team Titles Year Won
Nebraska 5 2004, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2015
Maryland Eastern Shore 3 2008, 2011, 2012
Fairleigh Dickinson 2 2006, 2010
Stephen F. Austin 2 2016, 2019
Vanderbilt 2 2007, 2018
McKendree 1 2017
Sam Houston State 1 2014

Result by school and year

28 teams have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in at least one year starting with 2004. The results for all years are shown in this table below.[30]

The code in each cell represents the furthest the team made it in the respective tournament:

  •  CH  National Champion
  •  RU  National Runner-up
  •  T3  Semifinalists
    •  3 ,  4  (In 2004-06, there was one 8-team bracket, rather than two 4-team brackets, so there were distinct 3rd and 4th place teams.)
  •  T5  Tied for 5th place
  •  T7  Tied for 7th place
  •    Played in opening round games but did not make it to final 8-team bracket. (Two teams in 2018, four in 2019.)
Maryland Eastern ShoreIMEAC13T7T7T7RUCHT7T5CHCHT3T3T5T3
Central MissouriIIMIAA13RURUT5T5T5RUT7T7T7T5T7T7T7
Fairleigh DickinsonINEC1243CHT3T3CHT3RUT5T7T5T7
Arkansas StateISouthland12RUT7T3T5T5T3T5T5T5T5T5T7
Sam Houston StateISouthland8T7T7CHT3T5T3T3T7
New Jersey CityIIIAMCC73T54T7T3T5T3
Sacred HeartINEC6T5T5T5T7T7T5
Stephen F. AustinISouthland4RUCHT7CH
Minnesota State[Note 5]IIIndependent2T7T5
Delaware StateIMEAC2T3T7
North Carolina A&TIMEAC2T3T5
Bowie StateIICIAA2
Winston-Salem State[Note 6]IICIAA1T7
Fayetteville StateIICIAA1T7
KutztownIIECC[Note 7]1T5
Lincoln MemorialIIECC1T7
Saint Francis (PA)INEC1T7
Texas SouthernISWAC1
Prairie View A&M ISWAC1

NCAA Programs

A total of 80 teams are competing in 2017–18, up from 77 in 2016–17:



  1. Nebraska had to win two best-of-seven matchups against Central Missouri State (who advanced to the finals after going undefeated in Friday's double elimination format) to win the first NCAA bowling title. Nebraska won the first match 4-2 (183-176, 168-200, 195-170, 212-212 (60-40), 168-203, 246-195) to force the winner-take-all match.
  2. Under the same double elimination format used in 2004, Nebraska went undefeated, winning three matches on Friday, meaning they only had to win once (out of a possible two best-of-seven matches) against Central Missouri State to win the NCAA Bowling Championship. Nebraska needed only one best-of-seven match-up to win their second straight NCAA Bowling title.
  3. Fairleigh Dickinson (only team undefeated, 3-0 after Friday's double elimination matches) needed only one best-of-seven match (out of a possible two matches) to defeat Alabama A&M.
  4. The double elimination format was tweaked in 2007 and subsequently every NCAA Bowling Championships have used this format since. Under the previous double elimination format used from 2004–2006, the finalist with one loss had to defeat the undefeated finalist twice in best-of-seven matches to win the bowling championship. Beginning in 2007, two teams that win two best-of-seven matches advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, the two undefeated teams would only need to win once out a possible two matches to advance to the final. In the 2007 championships, Vanderbilt and Maryland Eastern Shore won two matches to advance to the semifinals. Both teams only needed one match to advance to the best-of-seven finals match.
  5. Program discontinued in 2011.
  6. Program discontinued in 2014.
  7. Previously a member of NEC when they qualified in 2011.
  8. CIBC approved by NCAA Division III Membership Committee as an active NCAA Division III single-sport member conference effective September 1, 2019. Will receive automatic bid to the NCAA Bowling Championships beginning in the 2021–22 season.
  9. Elmhurst, a D-III school which had competed in MIAA bowling through the 2018–19 season, left to become a charter member of the CIBC.[31]


  1. "Huskers Qualify for NCAA National Championship". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  2. NCAA Bowling Championship Format
  3. "2018 NCAA Women's Bowling Championship Opening Round Match Information and Bid Checklist" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  4. "2019 NCAA Women's Bowling Championship Opening Round Match Information and Bid Checklist" (PDF). Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  5. "2018 NCAA women's bowling championship field announced". NCAA. March 28, 2018. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  6. "Huskers Win NCAA Bowling Title" (Press release). University of Nebraska Athletics. April 10, 2004.
  7. "Huskers Repeat as National Champions" (Press release). April 16, 2005.
  8. [ 2005 NCAA Bowling Bracket
  9. Fairleigh Dickinson Win 2006 NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship]
  10. "Vanderbilt Bowlers Make History! Commodores Crowned as NCAA Champs" (Press release). Vanderbilt University Athletics. April 14, 2007.
  11. 2007 NCAA Women's Bowling Bracket
  12. "National Champions!!!!!" (Press release). University of Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics. April 12, 2008.
  13. 2008 NCAA Women's Bowling Bracket
  14. "Huskers Capture NCAA Bowling Title" (Press release). University of Nebraska Athletics. April 12, 2009.
  15. "Fairleigh Dickinson Women's Bowling Wins National Championship" (Press release). Fairleigh Dickinson University Athletics. April 10, 2010.
  16. "National Champions!" (Press release). University of Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics. April 16, 2011.
  17. 2011 NCAA Women's Bowling Championship
  18. "Hawks Soar Higher; Win Back to Back NCAA Championships" (Press release). University of Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics. April 15, 2012.
  19. "Huskers Capture Fourth National Title" (Press release). University of Nebraska Athletics. April 13, 2013.
  20. Spoor, Mark (April 13, 2014). "Bearkat beginnings" (Press release). NCAA.
  21. "Huskers Capture Fifth NCAA Title" (Press release). University of Nebraska Athletics. April 11, 2015.
  22. "SFA Finishes as NCAA National Runner-Up" (Press release). Stephen F. Austin University Athletics. April 11, 2015.
  23. "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! Ladyjacks Down Nebraska For Program's First NCAA Title" (Press release). Stephen F. Austin University Athletics. April 16, 2016.
  24. "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! McKendree wins 2017 NCAA Women's Bowling Crown" (Press release). McKendree University Athletics. April 15, 2017.
  25. "Vanderbilt Bowling Upends McKendree for 2018 NCAA Championship". Southland Conference. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  26. "Ladyjacks Claim School's Second Division I Team National Championship". Stephen F. Austin State University Athletics. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
  27. "Titans Named Host for Two NCAA Championships, 2021 Men's Tournament Games". Detroit Mercy Titans Athletics. Apr 18, 2017.
  28. "Jennies Bowling and Kansas City Sports Commission Selected as hosts for 2021 NCAA Bowling Championships". University of Central Missouri Athletics. Apr 18, 2017.
  29. "Thomas More Chosen to Host 2022 NCAA Women's Bowling Championship". Thomas More College Athletics. Apr 19, 2017.
  30. "National Collegiate Women's Bowling Championships Record Book" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  31. "Marian women's bowling set to join Central Intercollegiate Bowling Conference" (Press release). Marian University Athletics. 2019-04-12. Retrieved 2019-04-14.
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