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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.

Bowling: Vanderbilt wins Warhawk Classic to open season

The Commodores looked the part of the No. 1 team in the country with a 13-1 record over the weekend.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Paige Peters led all Vanderbilt scorers at the Warhawk Classic. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

No. 1 Vanderbilt Bowling traveled to Madison, Wisc. to open the 2023-2024 season with a resounding victory at the Warhawk Classic. The Commodores finished the weekend at 13-1 with the sole blemish a narrow loss to No. 20 Wisconsin-Whitewater.

With only eight schools competing, each team played each other twice — once in a traditional match and once in a Baker match. A traditional match consists of five bowlers from each team bowling their own 10-frame game with the winning team decided by the players’ aggregate pin count. A Baker match consists of five games in which each player bowls two of their team’s 10 frames with the winner also decided by the aggregate.

With final standings decided by pin count, Vanderbilt finished comfortably in first place with 204.2 pins per-game to 195.1 for second-place Whitewater. No other ranked teams competed.

“This weekend was a good opportunity,” head coach John Williamson said. “Everybody got to play a decent amount, which was sort of our intention.”

The Commodores got off to a hot start on opening day with a 5-0 record and a lead of almost eight pins per game over the next-best competitor. With another 5-0 performance on Saturday, the lead grew to 11.3 pins per game. The vast majority of these matches — against Augustana, Aurora, Carroll (twice), Elmhurt, Kentucky Wesleyan (twice), Marian (twice) and Wisconsin-Whitewater — were completely uncompetitive.

It wasn’t until Sunday’s finale that the Commodores hit their first bout of turbulence. After defeating host Wisconsin-Whitewater 1,030-1,001 on Saturday, the teams rematched — with first place all but sealed for Vanderbilt — in the final slate of Sunday matches.

After building a 21-pin lead through the first two games of the five-game Baker set, the Commodores watched their advantage evaporate with a 208-195 Whitewater victory in game 3. Vanderbilt rebuilt its match advantage to 12 pins following a high-flying 237-233 game 4 victory, but a string of five strikes by Whitewater to close out the final game left the Commodores with their first and only loss of the weekend at 1,022-1,010.

“Sunday was a day that we weren’t as crisp as we were the first two days in our level of play,” Williamson said. “The first couple of days we would have long strings of strikes, and on Sunday for whatever reason we had long strings of nine counts.”

Having established an early lead over the field of competition, Vanderbilt largely used the weekend as a developmental opportunity for its players. All ten rostered student-athletes bowled at least one match, including freshmen newcomers Haley Lindley and Natalie Kent.

The Commodores were led by junior Paige Peters, whose traditional pin count of 1,475 — an average of 210.71 pins per game — was first among all tournament competitors. The strong performance was a welcome sign for the Third Team All-American and former National Newcomer of the Year after an injury-plagued sophomore season.

The freshman Lindley was second in traditional pin count for the Commodores with 977 — good for 195.4 pins per game. Kent saw more limited action but finished with a strong 196.33 pin per game average in the opportunities she was granted.

“The most impressive thing that I saw was their [the freshmen’s] ability to compete without fear,” Williamson said. “They didn’t do a lot of overthinking.”

In terms of traditional averages, junior Kaylee Hitt, senior Amanda Naujokas and senior Caroline Thesier led the way with 214.75, 209.5 and 206.75, respectively. Eight of the 10 Commodores averaged above 190 pins per-game.

“The thing that was most telling was that it didn’t really matter who we put in, we were basically going to shoot the same score,” Williamson said. “I think that speaks to the depth and quality of the team.”

Vanderbilt will be back in action Oct. 27-29 at the Destination Orlando tournament in Orlando, Fla. With such a light competitive field in Madison, the trip down south will be the first true test of the Commodores’ No. 1 ranking.

Traditional Match Scores:

Vanderbilt defeats Carroll 1,017-797

Vanderbilt defeats Marian 996-962

Vanderbilt defeats Kentucky Wesleyan 914-880

Vanderbilt defeats Aurora 1,085-908

Vanderbilt defeats Elmhurst 996-794

Vanderbilt defeats Augustana 1,009-873

Vanderbilt defeats Wisconsin-Whitewater 1,030-1,001

Baker Match Scores:

Vanderbilt defeats Carroll 1,083-743

Vanderbilt defeats Marian 1,103-948

Vanderbilt defeats Kentucky-Wesleyan 1,047-846

Vanderbilt defeats Aurora 998-826

Vanderbilt defeats Elmhurst 987-923

Vanderbilt defeats Augustana 1,032-852

Wisconsin-Whitewater defeats Vanderbilt 1,035-997

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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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