Between contributing to coverage of football, soccer, basketball, and baseball I’m going to try and get out a weekly or at least semi-regular article on the state of the slate, that is, what’s up in the world of Vanderbilt Athletics outside of those big name sports. Why? Because there is a possibility I will end up watching more hours of women’s college bowling than anyone else in the country this year and I would love to put that to use somehow. Plus, it’s just a good foundation for any feature articles around these sports that we put out later for those interested. As for the name and format, I’m still taking suggestions. For now, “Around the Shipyard” seems appropriate enough. Let me know what you think for next time.
Bowling: First up alphabetically is bowling. The Commodores are coming off a third-place finish in the NCAA Tournament and returning many of their top contributors from that relatively young team, which picked up even more talent in the form of Alyssa Ballard and Victoria Varano who finished top 12 in the Junior Gold U18 Championship. They join a lineup most likely featuring ISC semifinalist Mabel Cummins and NTCA Rookie of the Year Paige Peters as well as juniors Caroline Thesier and Amanda Naujokas, the latter of whom I thought seemed to be doing really well at the end of last year but not receiving the playing time commensurate with that success. It’s worth noting that Mabel, Paige, and Victoria all bowled together this past summer as 75% of Team USA at the Under 21 World Championships. This team came so close last year, and I think we found and retained the talent necessary to keep it rolling all the way to a title this year. It’s been too long since we’ve hoisted the trophy, and while the schedule is not yet up on the Athletics website, I was able to dig it up. I’ll be excited to report back after Halloween.
Cross Country (Men’s): Expectations must be low if the preseason rankings placed us at twelfth of fifteen in the Southern region. We turned those rankings on their head when we finished second at the Belmont Opener ahead of sixth-ranked Lipscomb. It seemed like Lipscomb may not have started their strongest runners given a quick peek at their roster, though. At least one runner had not competed all of last year, so I am not holding my breath that this performance is a sign we are going to stun the world this year. I ran cross country and track in high school and knew a few guys on the team while I was in school so it at least warms my heart a little to see they ran well.
Cross Country (Women’s): I’m a little bit more enthusiastic for the women’s team. Niki Narayani and Ella Lambert finished first and second overall at the Belmont Opener. Vanderbilt won the meet, handily fending off Lipscomb, who was considered roughly our equal in the preseason South rankings. (Again, this seems to be because of a strategic decision by Lipscomb not to put their best runners on the starting line.) They, like the men’s team, run their next race in Bloomington on September 16th. Unlike the men’s team, they will be led by SEC Co-Runner of the Week Niki Narayani. The season is off to a fantastic start, and the Commodores could make some noise on the trails this season.
Golf (Men’s): William Moll and Cole Sherwood just finished first and second overall in the Frederica Cup after possibly one of the most impressive team rounds in the history of men’s college golf on day 2. Our average scoring player posted about a 7-under on day 2. Only 8 rounds of 7-under or better were posted of the 126 rounds played by non-Vanderbilt golfers all weekend. Vandy posted 6 such rounds of the 18 rounds our golfers played. Yes, we won (and with a total score of 69 under. NICE!) This team could and maybe even should win it all after coming so close last year, especially given their second place preseason ranking in at least one poll.
Golf (Women’s): The women came out to a much less hot start, finishing last in Pebble Beach. Interestingly, Oklahoma finished seventh and Texas Tech finished sixth in this tournament while their men’s teams finished second and third, respectively for a bit of a mirrored leaderboard between events. Magic! Celina Sattelkau led the charge, tying for thirteenth, while first year members of the team Lynn Lim and Tillie Claggett tied for twenty-second and twenty-ninth, respectively. This seems like it will be a rebuilding year for the team, specifically after losing Auston Kim to the Epson Tour. Next up they’ll defend home field. If they play at all like they did in last year’s regional, we’ll get at least one win on the season.
Swimming: This is the Vanderbilt sport about which I know the least. I have a family member who is considering coming here to swim, though, so I am about to do a lot of homework on us. Their first swim meet is September 23rd in Baton Rouge, and I will be back to you then with updates.
Tennis: Neither the men nor the women have yet to have their schedules or rosters updated despite their seasons usually starting in mid-September. This is obviously a temporary oversight, because Vanderbilt just unveiled renderings and detailed plans for completely overhauled tennis facilities. The Lummis Family Tennis Center will be eligible to host all levels of NCAA postseason competition thanks to additional indoor courts, unobstructed seating, air conditioning, and upgraded athlete and coach facilities. It’s clear that tennis will have an important place at Vanderbilt for years to come, even if they are apparently taking this year off.