Vanderbilt coach John Williamson was not pleased leaving the Hijinx Family Center after the first day of the Mid-Winter Classic. His fourth-ranked Commodores had just gone 1-4 in Baker play, dropping games to highly rated McKendree, Arkansas State and unranked Drury and Louisiana Tech. It's lone win came against Tulane.
"This is the price you pay for not having a productive winter break," Williamson said. "We asked the team to work on some specific things over their break and for a variety of reasons, very few seemed to have done this. It is disappointing."
In spite of the gloomy record, Vanderbilt ended the day in fourth place in total pin fall and still in contention to salvage something in the tournament. Sam Houston leads with 5,111 pins, followed by Nebraska, host Arkansas State and Vandy next with 4,962. Five team games are slated for Saturday.
"I thought the mood for our day was set in the first game with McKendree," Williamson noted. "We seemed flat and it carried over. We missed seven makeable spares in the Drury game and lost by five pins. Part of this is bowling - you catch a bad pair at the wrong time and things happen. There were several other significant upsets around the center during that round."
The lineup to open was Emily Rigney, Jordan Newham, Adel Wahner, Kristin Quah and Maria Bulanova. Sophomore Bryanna Leyen was inserted for Rigney and Williamson was pleased with her play.
"She was our best player today," he said. "She hasn't seen much tournament action as yet and she began a little jittery but she settled down and averaged 197."
The Hijinx Center is the spot where Vandy won the Southland Bowling League championship last March but the Mid-Winter has not been especially kind to the Commodores in recent years. The `Dores were sixth here in 2015, fourth in 2016 and a big rally last year salvaged a third place finish.