UMES OPENS SEASON DEFENDING ANOTHER NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Oct. 31, 2013
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) women's bowling team will open the 2013-14 campaign tomorrow, November 1, 2013 at the New Jersey Jamboree, hosted by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The tournament is the start of the season for the Hawks who are looking to win back-to-back titles in both the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Intercollegiate Team Championships. Even better would be a repeat of 2011, when the Hawks also claimed the NCAA title. A trifecta would avenge a third place finish at last year's NCAA Championships.
"That would be quite a way to end a career," said senior Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.) who is the lone fourth-year player and the only one on the roster to win all three titles in 2011. "To go out the way I started would be awesome, but I want to make sure that I bowl well this season and help my team to achieve all we can. We all have to bowl our best to do that. I have been so fortunate to win three National Championships; a fourth would just be incredible."
The 2012-13 season was one to remember for the Hawks. With nine tournament wins and an overall record of 120-26, including a 27-3 MEAC record, the season was one of the best in UMES history.
If the Hawks are going have another year like last, it will be under new leadership, as first-year head coach Kayla Bandy takes over the program after interim head coach Kristina Frahm stepped aside to return home to the mid-west.
"I am so excited," said Bandy. "It has been a lot of work just getting ready to be at this point, but I know as soon as we throw that first ball tomorrow it will have all been worth it and to hopefully hoist some trophies along the way will be the icing on the cake."
Bandy is no stranger to hoisting trophies or piling up accolades. She won the 2008 USBC collegiate title while bowling at then Pikeville College. Ironically, they eliminated UMES in the semi-finals that year on one of the best matches ever in the history of the event. She went on to be an assistant coach at Pikeville where she helped guide the team to the finals of the USBC again last season, ironically again, where UMES topped them to win their fifth National Championship.
"I really like her," said Buja. "Each coach is different in how they do things, but she is so prepared and knows what is like to win and knows what is like to bowl your best, I think she is just the coach to keep us winning."
Bandy was awarded four different collegiate bowler of the year titles during her undergraduate days at Pikeville and knows what top level bowling looks like.
"We have a great group of girls here," said Bandy. "My hat is off to my predecessors, Coach Brummell and Coach Frahm. They certainly left the cupboard well stocked."
That well-stocked team includes All-America honoree Mariana Alvarado (Leon, Mexico), All-MEAC and Academic All-American Buja, three other returners, Tatiana Munoz (Ibague Tolima, Colombia), Victoria Jones (Baltimore, MD), and Valerie Riggin (Vista, CA). All of which will look to come into their own this season after serving primarily as substitutes behind multiple-All-America winners Anggie Ramirez and T'nia Falbo.
Buja, who averaged 198.67 in 60 games last season, was an All-MEAC selection and was named the NCAA's Elite 89 winner, for the bowler with the highest GPA at the championship, for the second consecutive year. Over the summer she was named the school's second ever Academic All-American.
Alvarado averaged 195.43 in 46 games, and was an Honorable Mention All-American and an All-MEAC selection. Her intense focus and consistent shot will anchor the Hawks this season.
In limited action last season, Munoz averaged a 196.2. Jones tallied a 195.22 and Riggin a 211.17. They will all look to contend for playing time and larger roles this season.
Also returning to the squad will be assistant coach Tyler Schmitz who enters his second season and was an important part of last season's MEAC and USBC titles.
Joining the Hawks for the 2013-14 season will be two international standouts and one American high school champion.
Juliana Franco (Pereira, Colombia) comes to UMES with plenty of international experience. Most recently Franco won the Bronze medal in singles at the Young World Championships in Thailand in 2012. Sara Pelayo (Distrito Federal, Mexico) also brings international experience to the Hawks. Pelayo recently participated at the Quibica AMF World Championships in South Africa and is a standout in her home country.
Justyne Falbo (Latrobe, PA) comes to UMES having won the Pennsylvania High School bowling state singles championship title in 2013. Falbo was also part of the team that won the 2012 Pennsylvania High School state title. No stranger to the Hawks, Falbo's sister T'nia Falbo bowled four year at UMES and was a three-time All-America honoree and a three-time National Champion.
All three newcomers look to contribute to the team immediately and compete for a starting role. After this weekend's New Jersey Jamboree, UMES bowls the following weekend in the first MEAC event of the year in Dover, Del. On November 15-17, UMES will host their home event, the Hawk Classic Invitational by Brunswick at Millsboro Lanes in Millsboro, Del. It is the ninth year of that event.
After a couple weekends off, the Hawks then travel to Hampton, Va. to attend the second MEAC event of the season, and last event of 2013 on December 7-8.
In 2014, UMES returns to the lanes on January 24-26 for the Kutztown Invitational in Pennsylvania. The next weekend the Hawks travel to Arlington, Texas for the Prairie View Invitational. They take a weekend off and then turn right around and go back to Texas from February 14-16 to attend their first ever Kat Klash, hosted by Sam Houston State.
On March 1-2 the Hawks will be in action for their last MEAC event of the regular season in Baltimore, Md. The following weekend features the last NCAA event of the Hawk's regular season, the Music City Classic in Smyrna, Tenn. The last event of the regular season will be the USBC Sectional Qualifier, which will be held from March 14-16.
The postseason for the Hawks begins with a title defense at the MEAC Championships held from March 21-23. Following a couple weeks off, the Hawks plan to attend the NCAA Championships which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio from April 10-12. The Hawks then hope to close out the year defending their title at the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships in Reno, Nev. from April 15-18.
"I am ready to get bowling," said Buja. "It should be another fun and exciting season for the Hawks!"