Lady Hawk bowlers bring home another NCAA trophy
2012 victory marks back-to-back titles
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (April 15, 2012) - The UMES women’s bowling team delivered a memorable gift Saturday night to celebrate the university’s125th academic year – another national championship.
The Lady Hawks defeated east coast rival Fairleigh Dickinson University four-games-to-two to win the NCAA title for Division 1 schools, repeating a feat the university achieved a year ago.
“Words cannot describe the feeling of winning," junior T’nia Falbo said. "It’s the greatest feeling ever."
The scintillating victory marks the third time in five years UMES has come home with the coveted national championship trophy, firmly establishing the university as one the most consistent performers on the women’s collegiate bowling scene.
This year’s win was particularly gratifying for the team and the university. Halfway through the season, long-time coach Sharon Brummell resigned to take an administrator’s job at Georgetown University in Washington.
Into the breach stepped Kristina Frahm, a two-time national champion and 2011 graduate, to serve as interim coach. The victory over Fairleigh Dickinson in the finals makes Frahm the first person in NCAA history to win a national title as a bowler and as a head coach.
The 2011-12 Lady Hawks had a successful regular season but were not considered strong title contenders when the tournament field was announced. In addition to Frahm, the 2011 championship team featured seasoned veterans Martha Perez and Maria Rodriquez, who also graduated a year ago.
Nevertheless, UMES had a solid corps of experienced bowlers returning – senior Paula Vilas, Falbo and fellow junior Anggie Ramirez, and sophomore Megan Buja. Those unflappable four plus freshman Mariana Alvarado formed the quintet that brought home the 2012 hardware.
“I was the only lefty today,” Ramirez said after Saturday's final. “So I was getting some good shots but didn’t have anyone else to talk to or watch about how the lane was reacting, so it times it was trial and error.”
After a preliminary round on Thursday to establish seeding for double-elimination match play on Friday the 13th, the Lady Hawks defeated three opponents to earn a spot in the finals. Triskaidekaphobia clearly was not a factor.
The Lady Hawks had to wait for one more elimination match Saturday between the squad from Fairleigh Dickinson, a private institution with 12,000 students, and the school UMES defeated for the title a year ago, Vanderbilt University.
The team from Teaneck, N.J. just outside New York City prevailed in that midday contest, setting up a championship match broadcast live on the cable sports channel, ESPNU.
College bowling employs the ultimate team approach to crown its champion in a best-of-seven match. Each school uses five bowlers in a single game, so each participant rolls two frames. Frahm tapped Vilas, the team’s emotional sparkplug, to lead off in the first frame and put Falbo in the anchor slot to handle the pressure of finishing the game.
In the deciding sixth game, Falbo came through in a tense back-and-forth contest with three strikes in the final frame to seal the victory for the team – and the tournament’s “Most Outstanding Performer” honors.
“It feels amazing to make those big shots,” Falbo said. “I know that those seven girls behind me have complete trust in me. There is no extra pressure because of that. They trust me to be in that position so I am going to go up there and do what I have to do.”
Throughout much of the finals, Frahm sat stoically as her team (and former teammates) exhorted one another with fist-pumps, high-five hand slaps and linking arms in unity. But in the sixth game, the old competitive juices clearly brought Frahm to her feet and she stood alongside the team as it watched Falbo clinch the victory.
“You just can’t describe this feeling to somebody; you have to experience it to know,” Frahm said.
From her home in Ohio, incoming UMES President Juliette B. Bell was among the first to react to the victory just moments after the last pin fell.
“Congratulations on an awesome victory,” Bell wrote in an e-mail to the team and the campus community. “I am so proud of the Lady Hawks bowling team and to be a member of the Hawks’ family. Go Lady Hawks!”
With apologies to the legendary baseball star, Yogi Berra, the UMES victory was. indeed, "déjà vu all over again."
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations
. UMES sports information director Stan Bradley contributed to this report. Photo by Matthew Bliss