Madison Cubs bowler Alexis Brunck working on her game this season at Ten Pin Alley. (2017 Courier file photo by Mark Campbell)
Madison Cubs bowler Alexis Brunck working on her game this season at Ten Pin Alley. (2017 Courier file photo by Mark Campbell)
This year has been a breakout season for Madison bowler Alexis Brunck. She senior bowled strong during the regular season, overcame illness to compete at sectionals, won a regional championship and was runner-up at semistate en route to a 22nd place finish at Indiana state finals.

But rather than serve as just a strong ending to her high school career, Brunck will now use that as a launching point to a collegiate career. On Friday she signed to bowl at NAIA Division I University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.

“This past year was my best year by far and now I want to see if I can get even better in college,” Brunck said moments after inking her national letter of intent at a ceremony in Ten Pin Alley in Madison on Friday.

Brunck bowled so well that she drew interest from several college programs but after visiting Cumberlands, meeting their coaches and weighing the good and the bad, the decision to head south to the campus just off Interstate 75 near the Kentucky-Tennessee line was clearly her top choice.

There were a lot of pros and cons,” Brunck said. “But I really liked Cumberlands. They’re getting a bowling alley on campus and it’s a beautiful campus. The college was what I wanted academically and their program is open in that you don’t have to stick with one brand of ball and I mix up my balls when I bowl.”

“She’s a great athlete and a great competitor,” said Cumberland head bowling coach Kevin Reigle, himself a former collegiate bowler at the University of Pikeville. “She practices probably more than anybody I know of at her age. She’s very competitive and very passionate about the game and we’re really excited to have her.

“She throws the ball really great — she’s got good rev rate, great release, good ball speed and she’s a great spare shooter — so she’s going to fit into the college game very well,” Reigle added. “She has a lot of tournament experience, especially for a bowler of her age coming out of high school, and I think she’s going to make an immediate impact in our program right away.”

Men’s and women’s bowling — both fifth-year programs at The Cumberlands — are just two of the 26 varsity sports fielded by the Patriots. The men’s team won a Mid-South Conference tournament championship this past season and the women advanced to the NAIA National Tournament and placed 18th.

Reigle said he expects the women’s team to be about 18 bowlers strong in 2017-18 with about seven of those incoming freshmen like Brunck.

Brunck, whose father Mark is a bowler, started young at about age six but lost interest in the sport until about the seventh grade when competitive school bowling re-stoked her interest. With increased effort has come improvement. As a senior for the Madison Cubs, Brunck bowled to a 185 average with a high game of 269. However, she turned in her best frames toward the end of the season in tourney play and that has Reigle excited about the potential of his recruit.

“We’re really excited to have her … she’s one of our marquee freshmen coming in this year,” Reigle said.

Brunck is leaning toward majoring in biology with a minor in Spanish with thoughts of some day being a physician’s assistant or some other job in the health industry.

Brunck is the third Madison bowler to sign collegiately this season and the second female from the Madison program to go to college on a bowling scholarship.

Reigle said the Madison area and Indiana is obviously strong in the sport but that Brunck is his program’s first signing from the Hoosier state. However, Reigle hopes Brunck will pave the way for other top Indiana prep bowlers to follow her to the Patriots’ program.