Bowling Honors Seniors Sunday

Vanderbilt recognized seniors Jennifer Loredo, Amanda Naujokas and Caroline Thesier on the final day of the Music City Classic

by Rod Williamson

SMYRNA, Tenn. — On a Sunday when Vanderbilt saluted its three seniors, there was no luck of the Irish for the Commodores as they dropped all three of their matches to finish eighth in their own Music City Classic.

With their Kelly-green warmups and green accented jerseys, Vanderbilt hoped to capture some St. Patrick’s Day good fortune, but stubborn opponents Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech and Maryland-Eastern Shore had other ideas.

Getting off to a faster start was one of Vandy’s objectives and to a degree, that was accomplished. The Commodores won the first Baker game of the morning with Arkansas State, 232-214, and had a 222 in a third game loss. Things went south in Game 4, a turning point in the match and day.

Vanderbilt was seemingly handed a gift in a tight game when the Red Wolves anchor whiffed on a single pin spare to open in the 10th. The Commodores needed only to fill the frame to even the match 2-2 but somewhat shockingly did the very same thing, leaving the game in a 192-192 draw. Momentum was turned and Arkansas State went on to win the next two games and the match, 4.5-1.5.

“I think the back half of Game 4 in the Arkansas State match when we could have evened the score and instead, ended up tying the game was pretty deflating,” head coach John Williamson said. “From that point on it seemed we were, at best, uninterested in being here. It showed. Our opponents were bowling well–both Louisiana Tech and Eastern Shore were pretty hot, and it seemed we didn’t have the interest to compete. That’s discouraging for the last regular season tournament.”

Williamson is concerned about the lack of time to get his team refocused as the Conference USA tournament is but a matter of days away.

“The rest of the way is match play and we’re going to have to find a toughness that we didn’t display today and, in some ways, haven’t shown all year. I think it’s in them, but we have to find it fast.”

The subpar play put a bit of a damper on the senior recognition but many in the large crowd stayed around to pay tribute to Jennifer Loredo, Amanda Naujokas and Caroline Thesier, three seniors who have shined in the classroom and on the lanes over their four years. They had similar thoughts after the ceremony.

“It (the end of her career) hasn’t hit me yet, probably won’t until the season is over,” Naujokas said. “I always talk to the underclassmen about how your time flies by so quickly; I tell them to enjoy it because it goes by so fast.”

That concept was echoed by Thesier.

“It’s always something you think about every year and then it’s suddenly your turn,” she reflected.  “Wow! This is actually happening, and life is changing. It’s so exciting when your teammates are behind you clapping. It’s nice to share that with your classmates.”

Loredo was thinking about gratitude.

“I’m grateful to have experienced with this team and everything that’s happened so far,” she said. “It’s been so amazing. We have a maximum of three weeks left in the season. I can’t wait to spend every minute with these girls.”

Jacksonville State defeated Youngstown State to win the tournament title. The Gamecocks’ Maranda Pattison was named the Most Outstanding Bowler with the all-tournament team consisting of Kirsten Moore and Madyson Marx of Youngstown, Ramita Sarntong of Sam Houston State, Emma Stull of Arkansas State and Allie Leiendecker of Louisiana Tech.

The Conference USA tournament, which appears to contain a miniature national championship field, begins March 22 in Harahan, Louisiana.