At this point, competing for national championships is an expectation for the Webber International University men’s bowling team.
Of course, that fact doesn’t make it any less fun when the Warriors achieve that goal. Just ask Tom Hankey Jr.
Hankey, a freshman out of Massachusetts, is part of the Webber squad that won the 2019 Intercollegiate Team Championships at Poelking Lanes South in Dayton, Ohio, on April 18.
And, to top off a memorable day, Hankey won the Intercollegiate Singles Championships as well.
The title is the sixth team national championship for the Warriors and the program’s third since 2012, but that doesn’t make it any less special.
“They both feel great,” said Hankey. “It’s great to be able to represent your school and win for your school, after all the training, and to have all the hard work pay off.”
Hankey is part of a squad that also included Matthew Russo, who was selected to the men’s all-tournament team, Evan Baranecky, Adam Glickman, Brennan Haugh, Nash Medico, Maxx Tamburrino and Adam Zimmerman.
The Warriors were the tournament’s No. 5 seed after qualifying and had to defeat defending national champion McKendree University twice just to get to the final. There, the young men from Webber topped Lawrence Tech 3-0 (179-176, 150-149, 209-181) to secure the nation’s top spot once again.
After a season in which the program spent most of the duration at or near the top of the national rankings, veteran coach Del Warren — who is also the vice president of the Kegel Training Center near Lake Wales — was proud of the way his team managed expectations throughout.
“We spent a great deal of time teaching the kids how to manage those,” Warren said of the expectations. “What I’m most proud of is that they had a great regular season and that they were also able to deliver, come together and have their best performance when it mattered most.”
According to Webber Athletic Director Darren Richie, the Warriors’ two-for-one title grab represents the first time that the same school won a team and individual title at the same national championship.
For Warren, who has known Hankey since the standout was 12, it was not surprising to see the freshman excel in singles competition.
“Being his coach for such a long time, this doesn’t come out of the blue for us — I’ve known how good he was,” Warren said. “This isn’t a surprise.”
Indeed, Hankey has been coming to the world-class Kegel facility since he was a teenager. In fact, the relationship the program at Webber has with Kegel — with the Warriors training there and sharing staff with the Kegel coaching staff — played a significant role in his choosing Webber as his college home.
“In terms of coming down here, the number one reason to come to Webber was to train at Kegel,” explained Hankey, who grew up around bowling with his parents owning a bowling center in Massachusetts. “It’s huge for the school because we have an advantage with all this technology and all this great coaching.”
The No. 9 seed in the singles tournament, Hankey defeated No. 5-seed Kyle McGrath (Lawrence Tech) 248-175 in the semifinals before coming out on top 245-182 in the championship match over No. 10 Matt Hibbard (Wisconsin-Milwaukee).