NCAA Championships blog: Day 2

April 11, 2012

VU Press Conference | Banquet Photos & Honors | Tuesday Blog | NCAA Central

Director of Communications Rod Williamson is with the Vanderbilt bowling team at the NCAA Championships and provided this timeline from the Commodores' travels on Wednesday.

Qualifying will get underway Thursday morning at Freeway Lanes in Wickliffe, Ohio. Watch the action live on and visit NCAA Championships Central for live results.

Wednesday Blog

6:15 a.m. Awoke to realize it had snowed approximately four inches overnight! The hotel is close enough to Lake Erie to get lake-effect snow. For Glendale, Ariz., freshman Rebeca Reguero, it was the most snow she had ever seen before - a real shocker - but for most of the other Commodores it was no big deal as they come from snow country.

7:30 a.m. We leave our hotel, trying not to get our shoes soaked or to slip on the sleet covered sidewalks and head for a hearty breakfast nearby. It is fair to say our party of 17 overpowered our lone waitress and the team was antsy to leave and head to its practice session.

9:12 a.m. We arrive at Freeway Lanes and for however much we have been disappointed by Mother Nature, we are duly impressed by the mother of all bowling centers. Freeway Lanes is the largest bowling center in the United States with 92,000 square feet, 84 lanes, multiple restaurants and lounges, pro shops, recreation centers and even bocce ball courts. In fact, the bocce ball courts were installed by Italian craftsman and actually eliminated 12 bowling lanes from the mammoth complex. There is even ample space for spectator bleachers, typically an Achilles Heel at most other centers. This is the Taj Mahal of bowling.

10:00 a.m. The team begins its prescribed 90-minute practice right on the dot over four lanes, each with the tournament's oil pattern in place so it gets a complete look and feel of conditions. Many of the bowlers have brought or had shipped six to eight balls and during this practice they will have to select five balls to register for the tournament. This is part art, part science and it's viewed as significant as sometimes the difference in winning or coming up short lies with using the right equipment. (Note to non-bowlers: not all bowling balls are alike and the oil patterns applied to the lanes differ from tournament to tournament)

10:21 a.m. The tournament's head official is once again Rick Barbara of Chicago. Barbera is a regular at this championship - a career bowling guy that among other things works PBA events. Barbara is smiling and saying his hellos to the college bowling nation as he makes his rounds. He won't be as overtly friendly in the days to come; he's a consummate professional.

11:30 a.m. Practice ends and the nine Commodores that will be suited up for the tournament roll their ball bags to the official ball registry station. Here another expert weighs and determines if the ball weight is evenly distributed (a ball cannot have uneven weight distribution). It's a lengthy process and during the weight we chat with senior Samantha Hesley, who told the team yesterday that she was just accepted into law school at Michigan State. One of the group's gifted singers had serenaded Sam with the Michigan State fight song at breakfast, much to her horror.

12:33 p.m. One of the top bowlers from Valparaiso makes her way over and announces she has applied for an entry position with Vanderbilt's athletic communications unit. She is an impressive young woman that someday will make her mark on collegiate athletics; the Commodores are just hoping that mark isn't against them in the days to come!

12:49 p.m. Coach John Williamson has detected a bit of fatigue among his troops and has a quick huddle to size up the situation. The plan had been for the team to spend the afternoon touring Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and while that sounded like a good idea at one time, Williamson quickly decided his hunch was right and the side trip was scrubbed.

12:54 p.m. It was off for lunch to a very good sub shop.

1:41 p.m. Back at the hotel. We arrive just as Associate Director of Athletics Kevin Colon, who oversees bowling as well as football and baseball, is pulling into the parking lot. The team heads off to their rooms, some to nap and others to crack the books once again. (There had been a team study hall last night for a couple hours proctored by academic counselor Neal Clarke)

5:12 p.m. The Vanderbilt contingent heads to a nearby hotel where the head coach and two administrators attend the pre-tournament meeting while the team, representing Vanderbilt very well in their dresses, has some photographs taken before the banquet. This is a mandatory meeting where coaches are reminded of tournament protocol and questions get answered by Freeway Lanes and NCAA officials.

6:35 p.m. Banquet begins. After opening remarks from organizing officials the teams, seated together, are directed to the buffet table. As per custom, it's alphabetical order and Vanderbilt is in starvation corner, although nobody was in danger of starving. Overheard in the line, a report of more overnight snow. After what we've experienced the last 36 hours we take it seriously.

8:17 p.m. Becky Kregling, Sacred Heart's head coach and chair of the National Ten Pin Coaches Association, announces the All-America teams as a highlight of the evening. Samantha Hesley is named to the honorable mention team, Jessica Earnest is chosen to the second-team for a third consecutive year and our tables cheer as Brittni Hamilton makes the first-team for a third time. Remarkable achievements given how many quality bowlers are now in the NCAA ranks.

9:05 p.m. Return to our hotel base; the team will meet with the coaches and prepare for Thursday's long day of seven team games that will set Friday's bracket. Word is spread that we will meet at 7 o'clock sharp for breakfast and head for the lanes by 7:45. It will be an interesting day.



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