Vanderbilt Drops to Seventh

Paige Peters finished third individually

by Rod Williamson

NEW CASTLE, Del. — Vanderbilt’s dominance at the Northeast Classic came to an end Saturday. Despite winning eight of its 10 matches over two days, the Commodores missed qualifying for Sunday’s championship bracket, placing seventh in the field of 34.

The best the Commodores can now finish is fifth, ending a sterling string of two championships and one runner-up finish in its three prior visits to the Northeast Classic. Those tournaments were held in facilities other than the current Bowlerama.

The Commodores won four of five matches Saturday, topping Long Island, Merrimack, Morgan State and host Sacred Heart after losing its opener to Mount St. Mary’s.  While some teams frolicked on these lanes, Vanderbilt could never find a rotation of five firing on all cylinders.

“That was tough sledding today,” head coach John Williamson said. “Whether it was first shot repetition or spare shooting, it really didn’t matter as someone was always struggling. It just didn’t feel right; we weren’t ourselves. But we weren’t the only ones…there are some very good teams behind us or within a few pins of us.”

For most of the day, Vandy went with Hayley Lindley, Caroline Thesier, Kailee Channell, Paige Peters and Victoria Varano. Only Peters and Varano went the distance as the Dores used seven bowlers over the course of play.

As was the case last week in Las Vegas, Peters turned in a sparkling individual performance. She averaged 223.4 with games of 194-222-219-235 and 247, and her crucial three strikes in the 10th frame of the Morgan State were the difference in Vanderbilt’s narrow 1,013-1,010 victory.

The Toms River, New Jersey, junior finished third behind Youngstown State’s Jade Cote and Jacksonville State’s Kayla Smith. Varano ended 15th among the 236 individuals.

“Paige was very consistent today,” Williamson noted. “I think her key was her ability to repeat her first shot because by doing so we were able to help her get lined up. That was something others weren’t doing as well.”

The Commodores’ spare shooting was once again not up to its customary high standard. The team lost considerable pin count with missed one-pin conversion attempts.

“You don’t want to make a mountain out of a mole hill,” Williamson said, no doubt recalling basketball coaches discussing free throw shooting or golf coaches working with putting problems. “It can get mental…you don’t want to see a 10-pin or a 4-pin and those are inevitably the ones that pop up. I think it comes down to a belief that you will make the shot and your ability to simplify your thoughts. You can’t have competing thoughts going on in your head because things can then snowball.”

Varano once again held down anchor duties and had some shining moments. She ended her Long Island 256 with a seven-bagger and began the Sacred Heart match with the front seven in route to a 254.

Vanderbilt faces Stephen F. Austin Sunday at 7:25 a.m. CST in the first of three Baker bracket matches. Jacksonville State, North Carolina A&T, Youngstown State and Nebraska earned the top four seeds.

Commodore action is streamed on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube site.