May 25, 2019

Bulldogs recognized as some of the nation’s best

Fresno State bowler Josh Blanchard was one of three Bulldogs All-Americans.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

Most valuable player. Player of the year. Coach of the year. Six consecutive championships. 212.99 average.

These are the honors the Fresno State bowling team received this season.

The team consists of about eight players, six of which travel to compete.

Criminology major PJ Haggerty has been bowling for 18 years and said his life is all about it.

“PJ is one the best bowlers I have ever seen,� teammate Matt Robinson said. “Growing up, I would always bowl and watch him in tournaments.�

This season, Haggerty was named Bowling Writer’s Association of America’s collegiate men’s Player of the Year and for the third straight season, National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association men’s Most Valuable Player.

“I have worked hard for four years and it’s nice to see the hard work has paid off,� Haggerty said. “It feels good to set records but I would trade all of them in for a team national title.�

Teammates Robinson and Josh Blanchard were named to the first team as well.

“Josh and Matt are two guys that I have a lot of respect for. They are both naturally talented at bowling and still find time to work hard on their game,� Haggerty said. “I have had a lot of good times with both of them and consider them to be great friends of mine.�

And to top it off, coach Chris Preble was named men’s coach of the year.

“Preble is one of the best coaches I have ever had. He knows a lot about the game and teaches us to the best of his ability,� Robinson said. “Fresno State had three first-team All-Americans; that shows you how good of a coach he is.�

But talent isn’t the only thing needed for a successful season.

“The key to our success is practice and team bonding. Our team spends a lot of time together, which makes us stronger and closer than other teams we are competing against,� Haggerty said. “Also, we have very talented and hard working players that give us an advantage over other teams across the country.�

Robinson agreed.

“Our key to success is that we are a family,� he said. “We all know little things about the game and we share them with each other. We never get mad at each other and always have each other’s back during our tournaments. No team in the country is as close as we are.�

The bowling team’s season extends over five months.

“Our season starts with tryouts at the beginning of September and we bowl at least one or two tournaments a month until nationals in the middle of April,� Robinson said.

The tournaments it attends range from eight teams to as many as 50 teams.

The smaller tournaments consist mostly of teams in California, such as San Jose State and University of California, Davis.

Bigger tournaments include teams like Wichita State, Saginaw Valley State and Pikeville, Robinson said.

“Due to recent budget cuts, our trips have been limited. This year we went to Vegas three times, Indianapolis in February and Wichita, Ka. for nationals,� he said. “All the other tournaments were in California.�

Fresno State bowling is known for having a great program so the past successes attract people who want to play instead of having to recruit them, Robinson said.

“Most people from the team come from either northern California or southern California,� he said. “We’ve had three members who were from Hawaii but that’s the furthest away we have had.�

Haggerty said his decision to play for Fresno State was based on staying close to home and joining a good program.

“I had friends who bowled for Fresno State before I decided to go here and that is why I came,� he said.

Almost everyone is shocked to hear there is a bowling team at Fresno State, Haggerty said.

Although not critical to their successes, having more support would be something the team would like.

“I really wish people followed us more because we have had a lot of success the last four years,� he said. “All I can hope now is that people are aware we have a team and follow them in the future.�

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