VU Bowlers to Compete for National Title

It didn't come as a surprise for the Vanderbilt bowling team, who have been ranked #1 for much of the season, but now it's official that the Vanderbilt bowling team will compete for their second national title April 9-11 in Detroit, Michigan.

The news came today on the NCAA's first-ever webcast of the announcement of the 8-team field for the tournament. Members and coaches of the bowling team, athletic department staff, and the media gathered at the McGugin Center to watch the announcement.

Vanderbilt will be joined in the competition by defending champion Maryland-Eastern Shore along with Arkansas State, Fairleigh Dickinson, Delaware State, Central Missouri and New Jersey City.

This year's bowling team includes a mix of veterans and young talent. Seniors Karen Grygiel, Tara Kane, Michelle Peloquin and Kaitlin Reynolds as well as juniors Ashley Belden and Josie Earnest were part of the 2007 National Championship team.

Earnest currently leads not only the team but also the nation with a 214.9 average in 52 games. Freshman Brittni Hamilton is averaging 201 in 51 games and is a leading candidate for national Freshman of the Year.

"I think that having been there before obviously creates sort of an ease because we know what to expect, we know how things operate, so when we get there it's just a matter of getting up there, making good shots, and having fun," said Grygiel on Wednesday afternoon.

"The fact that we're used to the environment and the format of the competition. "We're all looking forward to it, and we're very excited to go back out there and compete at that national level again in the final."

Even though Hamilton is just a freshman, ahe'a expected to be a key part of Vanderbilt's quest for a second national championship.

"She's competed at a top level in junior bowling against some of the same women that we'll be competing against, so I think that experience will definitely carry over for her," said Grygiel. "We have a lot of confidence in her, and I think she's going to be a great asset this year."

The team will travel to Detroit on April 8. Team games on Thursday, April 9, will seed the field from 1 through 8 and double-elimination Baker bracket games will start Friday.

The championship game will be shown live on ESPN2 Saturday, April 11. It will be the first time ESPN2 has shown the finals live over its network.

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Photos copyright 2009 by Whitney D. for

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