Wichita State completes sweep by winning men’s title at 2021 Intercollegiate Team Championships

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WYOMING, Mich. - The Wichita State men claimed their 12th national championship and joined the women's program in hoisting the Helmer Cup with a victory over St. Ambrose in the finals of the 2021 Intercollegiate Team Championships.

The Shockers won the deciding game against St. Ambrose in the best-of-five Baker final, 188-146, to collect the win, 3-2. The championship match aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.

The Wichita State men and women swept the ITC titles for the third time in program history (1994, 2009) and became the first team since Webber International in 2012 to win both titles in the same season.

The women's team claimed its 10th national championship by defeating North Carolina A&T in the title match, 3-2. The women's ITC final aired on May 25.

The Wichita State men and women each extended their own records for wins at the ITC.

The finals of the 2021 ITC and Intercollegiate Singles Championships were held May 8 at the Spectrum Entertainment Complex. The women's ISC telecast aired May 11, with Delaware State's Katie Robb winning the title. The men's ISC show aired May 18, with Calumet's Pete Vergos collecting the win.

Wichita State and St. Ambrose exchanged wins on the left lane during the first four games of the men's finals (197-196, 171-190, 200-167, 174-182).

St. Ambrose pushed the finals to Game 5 after sophomore Cameron Crowe delivered three strikes in the 10th frame of Game 4 to force Wichita State senior Brandon Biondo to roll two strikes and knock over nine pins to win the title for the Shockers. Biondo recorded the first strike but left a 4-7 combination on his second delivery.

The 41-foot oil pattern used during the week and finals did not allow either team to get comfortable under the television lights, but Wichita State felt confident getting to finish the match on the left lane as the top overall seed.

The Shockers started Game 5 with three consecutive strikes to get out to the early lead and maintained the advantage as St. Ambrose opened in four of its first six frames.

"Even after losing Game 4, we felt confident going into Game 5 because we knew the left lane had been better," Biondo said. "We came out and threw three great shots to put some pressure on them, and we were able to take advantage of it."

Wichita State added strikes in the sixth, eighth and ninth frames to secure the win, with Biondo being joined at the Spectrum Entertainment Complex by Briley Haugh, Cameron Hurwitz, Alec Keplinger, Richard Paul III, TJ Rock and Nick Sommer.

"We've been through a lot since Day 1," Biondo said. "We had a lot of confidence heading into the postseason last year, but it was cut short. This year was different. We lost a few seniors and, to be honest, came out a little flat to begin the year. We grinded throughout the season, found the right mix and all just came together and clicked at the right time. We never gave up and made the shots we needed down the stretch, and this is a moment we'll remember forever."

Rick Steelsmith, the men's head coach at Wichita State, was able to experience the thrill and excitement of winning a collegiate team title as a player for the Shockers at the 1987 ITC. He emphasized the effort and dedication his student-athletes displayed during the season on the way to claiming the Helmer Cup.

"They left everything they had out there this week and put their hearts and souls into it," said Steelsmith, a United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer. "With as hard as we had to work with all the challenges this year, these kids stepped up and made every sacrifice and accepted every challenge. They bowled incredible all week, and I'm so proud of them."

St. Ambrose's Crowe was named the men's ITC Most Valuable Player. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Nathan Stubler, Wichita State's Biondo and Keplinger, and Emmanuel's David Hooper.

Teams competing at the Spectrum Entertainment Complex earned their spots at the ITC through four sectional qualifiers held throughout the country in April.

Teams had to place in the top four after 40 Baker games in their respective sectionals to advance to the ITC.

All teams competing at the ITC rolled 12 Baker games at the Spectrum Entertainment Complex to determine seeding for the double-elimination bracket. All bracket matches leading up to the finals featured a best-of-seven Baker format.

Wichita State was the top qualifier, but the Shockers were swept by Emmanuel and sent to the elimination bracket. Wichita State defeated Indiana Tech, 4-3, to set up a rematch against Emmanuel to advance to the finals.

Wichita State recorded back-to-back 4-1 victories over Emmanuel to advance to the championship.

St. Ambrose qualified in sixth place and went undefeated in match play leading up to the finals. The Fighting Bees defeated two-time ITC champion McKendree, 4-1, to advance to CBS Sports Network.