Another Patriot in Sweet 16

Move over, Chase Fieler -you’ve got company.

Another former Parkersburg South athlete, in fact another Patriot basketball player, is headed to the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

After Fieler and his Florida Gulf Coast University basketball team became the first No. 15 regional seed in NCAA history to qualify for the Sweet 16, South fans started speculating when another of their graduates would play on the national stage. Little did they know it would happen again almost immediately.

Last July, recent South graduate Ryan Patterson, who was a captain of the Patriot basketball team, signed an athletic scholarship to attend McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., where he would join the school’s national powerhouse bowling team.

Patterson, who owns the record of 837 for a three-game series at Pike Street Lanes, not only won three individual state championships while attending South, but he also led the Patriots to a team title.

Now, in his first year as a college bowler, Patterson and his McKendree teammates are headed to the NCAA National Championships, which begin on Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb.

McKendree is one of 16 teams that will be competing for the national title. Actually, both the McKendree men’s and women’s teams qualified for the NCAA Championships.

It’s the first time in three years the McKendree men have made the field. Two years ago, at the sectional tournament, the Bearcats missed qualifying for the Sweet 16 by seven pins. Last year, they came up nine pins short. This year, they left no doubt, winning the sectional title and now are ranked among the top five for this week’s 16-team tournament.

Patterson, a freshman, got off to a great start, then, as he puts it, hit the wall. But he had his best performance at the sectional tournament and now is one of eight team members who will represent McKendree this week.

Patterson has undergone a style transformation. He says those with whom he bowled in Parkersburg wouldn’t recognize him today. He has gone from his traditional five-step approach to taking just four steps. And instead of throwing the ball between 18 and 20 mph, he’s slowed it down to 17 mph.

Patterson, who is studying sports management, is hoping to eventually get an internship with one of the St. Louis professional sports teams -the Cardinals, Rams or Blues.

Speaking of professional sports, Patterson keeps up with the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. It’s only natural that someone with his skill level dreams of the day when they will compete on the world’s foremost bowling tour.

For now, Patterson is just trying to be the best he can be. He’s trying to represent McKendree as well as he possibly can.

He has communicated through Twitter with his more famous South basketball teammate Fieler, with whom he now has something in common -the Sweet 16.