NEW COACHES AND NEW FACES; SAME EXPECTATIONS: A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Nov. 5, 2012
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - Who would have thought it? One of the winningest coaches in the history of the sport, a two-time National Coach of the Year, steps down mid-year after losing three All-America seniors from the previous season. It was a tall order indeed to even make the NCAA Championship field. But to win it again? That is just what the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) did in the 2012 season.
After Sharon Brummell's shocking announcement that she is retiring from bowling and taking a new position as an administrator at Georgetown University in January, UMES' ship looked like it was headed for rough waters. But who can replace a coach of her credentials? One of her pupils can. In steps Kristina Frahm, fresh off a 2011 NCAA Championship as a player, the third National title of her career. She not only was four-time All-America designee, but was instrumental in the operations of the team as an undergraduate. UMES called upon her to take her knowledge of a National power in the sport and keep the ship afloat. She did more than that.
Working with Assistant Coach Doug Dukes, the duo revived a floundering team that was still full of talent and potential. They recharged their battery, building the team back up form the emotional loss of their long-time leader and steered the team to its ninth straight NCAA Championship field appearance. They entered ranked eighth in the National Tenpins Coaches Association (NTCA) poll, a ranking the team felt slighted by considering it was the reigning National Champions. They used that emotion, added to it Frahm's leadership and Dukes' knowledge of the game to shock the field and roll all the way into the finals.
A 4-2 win over rival Fairleigh Dickinson gave the Hawks their third NCAA Championship and fourth National title in the last five seasons. After the pair was both recognized as two of the top 100 coaches in the world in their sport this off season by Bowler's Journal International, they were set to make a run for an unprecedented third straight NCAA National Championship, seeing just one player graduate from the squad.
But just as it did last season, things change and adversity rose.
Dukes, now expecting his first child with wife Amy, not only had to reprioritize his personal life, but also make the tough decision to leave UMES bowling and his other position as a manger at Millsboro Lanes. He accepted a position with Kegel Bowling as Technical Sales Specialist that not only takes advantage of his vast bowling knowledge, but allows him to reprioritize his personal life.
Dukes' knowledge has been vital to the Hawks and his track record proves that, but the Hawks didn't have to look far to find someone to help them.
In steps Tyler Schmitz. Schmitz, who was already working with the program as an academic advisor, has an impressive resume, having bowled collegiately at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and now professionally. Schmitz, like Dukes was when he started, is young, eager to help, and has a vast knowledge of lane play and lane conditions. Having already been involved in the program, the team is already comfortable with him and takes to his teachings well.
The other new addition is Kristie Lopez (Ponce, Puerto Rico). Lopez, the only freshman in the class, brings with her a wealth of credentials and even took 47th at this summer's Junior Gold event, finishing in the top eight percent of a field of nearly 600 young women. She is expected to contribute immediately.
Valentina Collazos (Cali, Colombia) is another new face for opponents but already has chemistry with the team. She sat out last year via NCAA transfer rules. The senior from Colombia boasts another solid international resume. A two-time Colombian Youth Champion, a Valle's State Champion since 2006 and a four-time member of the Colombian National Youth Team, Collazos will bring experience to the Hawks and is expected to take the spot vacated by All-American Paula Vilas, who graduated last year.
Collazos also boasts a pair of silver medals, one in the Central American Youth Championship in 2007 and one in the South American Youth Championship in 2010. That same year she took 32nd overall at the world youth championships in Finland, bowling alongside last season's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's (MEAC) Rookie of the Year, Mariana Alvarado (Leon, Mexico) who was also in the top 50.
Alvarado, who averaged just under a 190 last season, was a fixture in the starting lineup for the Hawks and looks to make a return to that same spot. Jones, averaged over a 193 in limited action is a lefty who will play a bigger role off of the bench while Munoz, who came on strong last season to average just under a 197, will also contend for playing time. Riggin, who joined the team mid-year last season, bowled in just 14 games, five traditional, to average a 199 last season. All will see larger roles in the season.
The heart and soul of the team will also return with seniors T'nia Falbo (Greensburg, Pa.) and Anggie Ramirez (Bogota, Colombia) returning alongside junior Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.) The trio will continue to dominate the MEAC this season if all goes according to plan. Falbo (203.97 avg.) was named the conference's Player of the Year while Ramirez (202.72 avg.) earned that accolade in the pre-season. Both were First-Team All-MEAC selections and both were All-American honorees from the NTCA. Buja (195.25 avg.), who just missed an All-America honor, was stellar. She was the NCAA's Elite 89 winner, for the bowler with the highest GPA at the championship, the USBC's Star of Tomorrow Award winner and this summer took fifth at Junior Gold in the field of almost 600 women. She is poised for a breakout year.
"I am thrilled to be back coaching these very special young women," said Frahm. "We faced a lot of adversity last season and in the end, found a lot of success. We have a big loss in Paula [Vila] but Valentina [Collazos] and Kristie [Lopez] should help fill that void. We are expecting to win another National Championship. This program is one of, if not the best, in the nation, so our goal is to always be standing tall at the end of the year holding that trophy high."
UMES starts their quest for a third straight title in November at home when they host the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Northern Division Meet.