March 26, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, IN---The NCAA's Bowling Committee met today to announce the eight teams that will comprise next month's NCAA Championship field.
Defending champion Vanderbilt was one of five Central Region teams chosen along with three Northeast Region squads to compete April 10-12 in Omaha. The selection criteria includes many factors including strength of schedule and success against top opponents.
"This doesn't come as a surprise but it is always nice to hear things officially," says Commodore coach John Williamson, "Bowling continues to grow and there are some good teams that did not get an invitation. Just two years ago we were not 100% sure we would make the final eight, then last year we won the title and everyone's expectations naturally went way up. Getting to Omaha is an accomplishment and was one of our goals but it is not our ultimate goal."
Top-rated Nebraska, Minnesota State-Mankato, Arkansas State and Central Missouri are the other Central Region teams making the cut while Maryland-Eastern Shore, runner-up to Vanderbilt last year, New Jersey City and Sacred Heart are the Northeast teams with a chance to win.
Vanderbilt is presently rated third nationally, the same position it was in last year heading to the nationals. The Commodores bowled in nine major tournaments, winning one and finishing second four times to compile an overall record of 77-25.
"With just one exception, we had a remarkably steady season," Williamson noted. "There is a tendency for fans to think we can and should win every tournament we enter but it is not that simple. We were very close to winning a couple of other tournaments but when you really analyze our statistics, we are not that far from where we wanted to be."
Handicapping the NCAA field has also proven difficult.
"Two years ago, in our first NCAA appearance, Alabama A & M seemed to come out of nowhere to finish second," Williamson remembers. "Last year I'm sure there were those who looked at our success and that of Maryland-Eastern Shore and were somewhat surprised. The team that peaks on the right weekend can walk away with a big victory."
This year's tournament will be held at Thunder Alley in Omaha, hosted by the University of Nebraska.
"The NCAA Women's Bowling Committee is excited with Thunder Alley as the host for the 2008 National Championship," said Brian Reese, Director of Sport Operations at Vanderbilt and chair of the NCAA Women's Bowling Committee. "Thunder Alley is a brand new, state-of-the-art bowling center which will be appealing to a large crowd and for our network partner ESPN. We are expecting a great championship event."
Last year Commodore freshman Josie Earnest won Most Valuable Player honors while sophomore teammate Michelle Peloquin made the five-woman all-tournament team. The Commodores defeated Sacred Heart, Nebraska, defending champion Fairleigh Dickinson and then Maryland-Eastern Shore in the nationally televised finals for the school's first NCAA team title.