JJC Freshman Wins NJCAA Women's Bowling Championship

Joliet Junior College freshman Madi Lave has made history.

The JJC Wolves men’s and women’s bowling teams recently competed in the 2024 NJCAA Bowling Championship at Royal Scot Golf and Bowl in Lansing, Michigan, where Lave earned the women's singles national title with a final score of 633 after three games of competition.

"I haven't completely wrapped my head around the idea of winning the singles title, if I'm being honest," Lave said. "This means a lot to me, seeing the work I have put in all season long pay off into something I can appreciate for years to come. It is an honor to have the opportunity to accomplish this win for the JJC program and get the recognition, especially being a first-year program."

Lave participated in both doubles and singles on the first day of competition. That morning, she was paired with a teammate and close friend in doubles action, which she said helped calm her nerves as the pair were focused and just having fun.

When singles competition began, she had to switch lanes, a change she was happy with.

"Going into game one for singles, we had just moved lanes from the ones we were bowling doubles on, and I was feeling quite relieved because my morning series wasn't the greatest," said Lave. "The previous lanes had broken down, and I was back and forth between my two ball choices. The new lanes were holding a lot better."

Lave participated in three singles games, bowling 213 in the first, 197 in the second and 223 in the final game for a final score of 633. She said the dip in score during the middle game was caused by missing "a few spares."

Lave bounced back during her final game, leaving few spares and remaining consistent with her shots, something she also credits her teammates for assisting with.

"My other teammates had finished bowling for the day and came to watch my partner and I finish our last game of the day," she said. "I think them cheering us on helped!"

Because of website issues the first day, Lave and the Wolves said they did not have access to tournament standings, so they did not know where they stood. She wasn't aware she had won the national championship until the following morning.

"As the day progressed, I never actually thought I would be able to take the title," she said. "It wasn't until the next morning when I was told by one of the parents in our hotel lobby that I realized I had won it."

Wolves coach Jeff Bailey said he wasn't surprised to finally see Lave have a big day.  

"Madi was a key part of our team and always performed well," he said. "She at times doubted her talent, but always gave 110 percent. She was always close to breaking out during the regular season, but to see her become national champion was the most enjoyable payoff for her pushing herself all season long to be great and finish her freshman year on a positive result."

Lave said she wouldn't have been able to accomplish what she did without her coach's guidance.

"Sometimes I need a second opinion on certain adjustments to make on my shots, or which equipment I should switch to," she said. "I tend to try and make something work when I should try a different approach for the shot. I'm grateful for having someone who can catch my mistakes when I miss them."

Lave is a first-year medical sonography student and plans to become an ultrasound technician. The Lockport Township High School alumna bowled all four years and won back-to-back state titles as a junior and senior. She has been bowling competitively for 10 years after her parents decided to sign her and her brother up for a Saturday morning youth league.

The Wolves' bowling program is in its first year, and both the men's and women's teams finished in fifth place during the national tournament. Lave said she is proud of the finish for both teams this season.

"Nationals had been a long weekend for all of us, and we fought hard through the highs and lows," said Lave. "The women's team were seventh at the end of the first day, and we battled and worked our way up to fifth on the final day. Both teams, men and women, have improved a lot since we first started back in September." 

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