McKendree’s Wille, O’Keefe Earn Major Awards as Bearcats Place Five on All-MIAA Squad


(LEBANON, Ill., March 23)—The McKendree University women’s bowling program was well-represented on the 2018 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) All-Conference Team announced on Friday at the MIAA Women’s Bowilng Championship being held in Wheaton, Ill.

Senior Sarah Wille brought home MIAA Bowler of the Year honors, marking the second consecutive year that a McKendree bowler earned the league’s top individual award. Wille was one of five Bearcats to collect All-MIAA accolades this season. She was joined on the first team by senior Jessica Mellott and sophomores Breanna Clemmer and Taylor Bailey. Junior Lauren Pate rounded out the quintet for McKendree by earning second-team All-MIAA honors this season.

Shannon O’Keefe also collected some hardware on Friday as she was named the 2017-18 MIAA Co-Coach of the Year. O’Keefe shares the honor this year with Maryville University coach – and former McKendree bowler – Brandi Branka.

Wille led McKendree in average during traditional play through the end of the regular-season schedule. Wille averaged 211.69, and tossed the Bearcats’ lone 300 game this season back in November at the Warhawk Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She posted seven top-20 finishes this season, which included a first-place effort in the season-opening Brunswick Bearcat Open at St. Clair Bowl in Fairview Heights.

This is the second straight year that Wille earned first-team All-MIAA honors. She also joined Clemmer as the only Bearcats to capture MIAA Bowler of the Year accolades as Clemmer won the league’s inaugural award in 2017.

Mellott was second on the squad in average at 209.87. She finished among the top 20 in seven different events this season, including a second-place showing at the KU Invitational hosted by Kutztown University in mid-January. Mellott was a second-team All-MIAA honoree last season.

Clemmer came on strong in the second half of the 2017-18 season and closed the regular season with a 209.64 average, which is good for third on the team. She posted six top-20 tournament finishes this year, including a run of four consecutive top-six efforts at the outset of 2018. Clemmer topped the final leaderboard at the KU Invitational and followed with back-to-back fourth place finishes at the Prairie View A&M Invitational and at the Stormin’ Ladyjack Classic, which were both contested in Texas.

Bailey put together a 208.17 average in traditional play during the 2017-18 regular season. She placed in the top 20 of four different tournaments this year, including a season-best fifth place showing at the Stormin’ Ladyjack Classic hosted by Stephen F. Austin State University. Bailey is a repeat first-team All-MIAA selection from last year.

Pate averaged 204.29 in traditional play during the regular season. She had five top-20 efforts in 2017-18, including a seventh-place effort at the Warkhawk Invitational back in November. Pate was a first-team All-MIAA honoree in 2016-17.

O’Keefe collected her second consecutive MIAA Coach of the Year honor by leading McKendree to an 88-24 record in dual match play this season. As a team, McKendree won four in-season tournaments in 2017-18. The Bearcats captured three consecutive tournament titles to start the 2018 calendar year, beginning with the Mid-Winter Invitational hosted by Arkansas State University. The following week, McKendree won the KU Invitational and followed two weeks later with first-place honors at the Prairie View A&M Invitational. The Bearcats then wrapped up the regular season last week with a tournament victory in the Music City Classic hosted by Vanderbilt University.

Under O’Keefe’s guidance, McKendree has sat at or near the top of the NTCA all-division poll the entire season, and the Bearcats currently hold down the No. 2 spot in the rankings. O’Keefe is in her fourth year at the helm of the Bearcats’ program.


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