The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Thanksgiving seconds: Vanderbilt bowling finishes as runner-up at Hawk Classic

For the second tournament in a row, the Commodores came just short of a title.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt bowling celebrates during a tournament in mid-January, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Hawk Classic in Millsboro, Delaware, was the last chance for No. 2 Vanderbilt to get in-game reps before the start of a grueling spring schedule. With a pair of freshmen still acclimating to the strenuous pace of collegiate bowling, the second tournament in as many weekends was as much a competitive environment as a gauge of how far the team still has to go.

The action began Nov. 18 with a rough slate of four matches against No. 7 North Carolina A&T, No. 12 Delaware State, No. 19 Morgan State and No. 23 Monmouth. It was the Commodores’ first time facing any of these teams this season.

The opening match against North Carolina A&T was characterized by missed spares and poor execution by both sides. Though the Aggies finished with only 839 pins through five games, a season-low 826 pins for the Commodores sunk them below even that meager mark.

Vanderbilt rebounded slightly in the match against Delaware State thanks to 215 pins from Paige Peters—the first time a Commodore broke 200 on the day. Even so, a 872-pin total in the win gave Vanderbilt plenty to think about heading into its next match against Morgan State.

The Bears came out swinging with signs of life that had escaped the Commodores’ prior moribund opponents. Behind 221 pins from Mabel Cummins and another 209 from Peters, Vanderbilt did enough to evade the Bears’ trap.

In Friday’s final match against Monmouth, the Commodores did more than just win—they exploded for the highest pin total of any team in the entire weekend. Every player scored at least 198 pins, with Peters leading the way via an incredible 265. That performance put Vanderbilt atop the tournament field at the end of the first day.

The Commodores began Saturday with a morning matchup against No. 16 Sacred Heart. Four of the team’s five players once again finished above 200 as Vanderbilt easily dispatched the Pioneers.

This performance was more or less the state of play all Saturday: Opponents did what they could, but Vanderbilt simply did more. St. Francis Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst University, Wilmington University and No. 11 Mount St. Mary’s all fell prey to a Vanderbilt team that didn’t score below 970 in a match all day. Those strong performances kept the Commodores at No. 1 entering bracket play on Sunday.

Once bracket games began, the format switched from a five-game pin total to a best-of-seven series. In the first of these series, and with an automatic berth to the championship match on the line, the Commodores faced North Carolina A&T in a rematch of their only loss from the weekend.

The two teams went back and forth through the first four games, splitting them evenly. In game 5, the Commodores left points on the board in five frames en route to an underwhelming 157-pin total. That trend of leftover points continued into game 6 as the Commodores again failed to crack 200 and, subsequently, lost the series 4-2.

With a spot in the championship on the line, Vanderbilt moved on to play No. 10 Fairleigh Dickinson. While not a rematch from the weekend, the Commodores had lost to the Knights in a placement match from the season’s first tournament.

Vanderbilt clearly had something to prove as the team began the series with consecutive victories spearheaded by streaks of five and four consecutive strikes. Fairleigh Dickinson was completely out of sync in game 3, allowing the Commodores to easily seize a nigh-insurmountable 3-0 series lead. Even when Vanderbilt trailed off in game 4 and scored only 171 pins, it was still enough to checkmate the Knights.

That win set up the championship series as the rematch of the rematch with North Carolina A&T. Three sets of doubles (two consecutive strikes) helped? the Commodores to take game 1, but strikes were not to return for quite a while. In games 2-4, Vanderbilt failed to eclipse 200 pins behind a slew of missed shots and, accordingly, lost all three of these games.

Game 5 was kinder to the Commodores in that the Aggies finally let up offensively, but they still faced elimination with a 3-2 series count. In such high-pressure moments, it would be natural—almost expected—for the freshmen-heavy rotation to blink. And yet, in a consistent theme throughout this early season, the freshmen proved to be disciplined beyond their years.

In game 6, a whole-team effort contributed to strikes in frames 5-9 and a collective total of 234 pins. Even with a strong offensive performance by the Aggies, Vanderbilt secured the victory and forced a winner-take-all game 7.

It was the second straight tournament with a championship game 7 for the Commodores; and, unfortunately, it ended with the same result. Each player in the rotation did their part en route to a solid 220-pin offensive performance, but it just wasn’t enough—for the third time on the weekend—to overcome North Carolina A&T. Going forward, the Commodores have a new rival.Now begins an extensive hiatus for Vanderbilt, as the team won’t play again until the Stormin’ Blue and White Vegas Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada, from Jan. 8-10. You can watch every match live on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube channel.

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About the Contributor
Jayce Pollard
Jayce Pollard, Non-revenue Sports Specialist
Jayce Pollard (‘25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in public policy and economics and minoring in data science and Spanish. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can catch Jayce trying to learn the rules of soccer, hating on the Arkansas Razorbacks and being chronically on Twitter. He can be reached at [email protected]
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