Leader Blues

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SPORTS>> Allfam to host NCAA bowling tournament this weekend

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Allfam Bowling Center will be the site of this weekend’s NCAA Division I Women’s Mid-Winter Invitational Tournament. A total of 22 teams will be on hand, including 2008 national champions Maryland-Eastern Shore and host team Arkansas State, which finished runner-up to MESU in the national tournament last year.

Other schools of local interest will be the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Vanderbilt, Fontbonne University from St. Louis, Mo., and Southern University out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The tournament will start with round-robin bracket play on Friday at 9 a.m., and will go through Sunday. Admission is free.

Allfam owner Bill Allen got the call from ASU when a scheduling conflict arose at their normal host spot in Jonesboro.

“We told them that had never hosted an NCAA tournament, but that we would like to take a look at it,” Allen said. “The main reason is because high-school bowling in Arkansas is in its infancy. If we could bring something like this to central Arkansas, then kids could see that bowling can be more than just a leisure activity.”

Allen estimates around $70,000 will be pumped into the local economy over the three-day tournament, with most of the teams lodging in Jacksonville.
“It should be a shot in the arm for a lot of local businesses,” Allen said. “They will get business that they normally don’t expect to see in January. They’re not going to go home, fix a sandwich and go to bed, they’re going to go out to eat and do other activities.”

ASU bowling coach Chris James and the Lady Red Wolves are expected to hit town tomorrow afternoon to prepare for the big event.

Participants will also receive welcome baskets from Maybelline and the Jacksonville-Cabot chambers of commerce. Additional sponsors for the event are U.S. Foods, First Arkansas Bank, Popitos Restaurant in Jacksonville and the advertising and promotion commission.