Notebook: Allstate Sugar Bowl Invitational

Vandy opens season in New Orleans

by Rod Williamson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The top-ranked Vanderbilt bowling team opens its season Friday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Bowling Invitational hosted by Tulane in New Orleans. Eight of the 16 teams included in the event are ranked in the top 20.

Competition is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday and continue at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lane draws will be determined randomly in the coaches’ meeting Friday. The tournament will be scratch and be based on match wins and losses.

Teams will compete in five five-game baker matches Friday followed by five traditional game matches Saturday. The teams will then be seeded based on total pins for the bracket round Sunday which will be three baker best-of-7 games. Final positions will be determined after the bracket results.

Veteran Dores carry No. 1 ranking: Vanderbilt sports one of its deepest and most veteran rosters in 2019-20. Only the 2010 Commodores could match this year’s experience and accolades – although the program has carried the top ranking into the season several times.

What Vandy coaches think: Head Coach John Williamson, heading into his 15th season, points out this is a new season with new challenges and team chemistry. While there is an excellent returning nucleus and two promising freshmen, the team graduated Kristin Quah and Jordan Newham in May – both of whom were instrumental in the program’s consecutive to-three NCAA finishes.

Hard work, good leadership: Williamson said he has been very pleased with the team’s embrace of preseason conditioning and work ethic, noting preparations are running ahead of the norm as a result. An example occurred earlier this month after the team earned a rare day off from its normal lift in the strength and conditioning center, only to show up en masse to workout anyway.

All in the family: With associate head coach Josie Barnes about two weeks from delivering a baby girl, the Commodores will tentatively replace her this fall with her father, Larry Earnest. Larry Earnest is a superb bowler in his own right and has developed a number of top junior bowlers in his native Illinois along with his primary claim to fame – teaching Vanderbilt All-Americans Josie and Jessica Earnest. Josie Earnest will rejoin the team for the spring portion of the schedule.

Competing teams: Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Florida A&M, Jackson State, Lincoln Memorial (13), Louisiana Tech (17), North Carolina A&T (8), Sam Houston State (5), Southern, Stephen F. Austin (3), Texas Southern, Tulane (14), Tusculum, UAB (19), Valparaiso, Vanderbilt (1).

About the tournament: Vanderbilt has participated in this event several times, the most recent of which came in 2017 when it finished fourth after starting with the season with 10-0 record. It was one of the first collegiate tournaments for Maria Bulanova who won the individual competition and was the tourney MVP.

Official tournament website: Vanderbilt will post results after each day, but in addition, the Tulane website has additional tournament information here.

Following the tournament: Vanderbilt will use its YouTube site to live stream all of its matches with the exception of any that the host Tulane All-Access will live stream.

Roster news and notes …

• Maria Bulanova – senior, three-time All-American and 2019 NCAA Division I Player of the Year

• Mabel Cummins – freshman making her college debut, 2019 U.S. Amateur runner-up, World Junior Championship Gold medalist (doubles) … Junior Team USA member

Angelique Dalesandro – sophomore who saw considerable competition a year ago, Junior Team USA member.

Samantha Gainor – junior who earned third-team All-America honors a year ago.

Amelia Kiefer – freshman making her Vanderbilt debut, 2016 Indiana state singles runner-up.

Emily Rigney – senior who was 2018 NCAA Championship MVP, teammate Liz Ross are team’s lone left-handers.

Liz Ross – redshirt freshman making her college debut

Adel Wahner – senior who earned third-team All-America honors in 2019, Junior Team USA member