WICKLIFFE, Ohio – A year ago, Kristina Frahm was one of the stars of the Maryland-Eastern Shore team that won the national championship. This year, she’s hoping to lead the Hawks to the national championship again – this time as the head coach.
She says sitting in the coach’s chair, which she inherited from the retired long-time coach Sharon Brummel, is much more difficult.
“One of the biggest struggles is the whole player/coach thing,” Frahm said. “It’s changing because I actually bowled with a couple of girls that are out there. It’s just stressful for me being a coach rather than being a player because I can’t throw the ball anymore.”
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In Friday’s early match-play rounds, the second-seeded Hawks went 2-0, first defeating NEC conference champion Sacred Heart in a seven-game nailbiter (206-171, 214-183, 212-202, 218-235, 205-212, 191-206, 205-187). Then, UMES defeated No. 1 seed and last year’s national runner-up, Vanderbilt 3.5-1.5 (235-235, 247-170, 228-172, 221-196, 236-242, 226-183).
“These girls are doing great,” Frahm said. “They’re working so hard.”
Clearly, that sixth seed hasn’t affected the defending national champions, which doesn’t surprise their rookie coach.
“Honestly, we’ve always struggled the first day,” she said. “In 2008 when we won, we were the seventh seed. I think we use the first day to kind of get warmed up, see what each player can do, playing different lines, doing different things like that and [when Baker play begins] we kind of know we have to give it our all.”
Two teams were eliminated in Friday’s early session. After losing to UMES, Sacred Heart fell to Valparaiso in a seven-game match (188-162, 178-197, 202-153, 201-202, 222-197, 201-190). In the other losers’ bracket match, top-ranked Arkansas State battled back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate Central Missouri (162-188, 204-192, 170-216, 171-254, 223-213, 187-176, 204-191).
Red Wolves head coach Justin Kostick said he never gave up on his team and told them to do the same.
“I told them there’s a reason the matches are best four out of seven,” he said. “I told them to just make one good shot at a time and we started making moves.”
One of the most crucial moves was by sophomore anchor bowler Amanda Labossiere.
“Amanda hadn’t hit the right-hand lane the whole game in game five, she needed a double to win in the 10th and threw them both perfect.”
Another crucial move was made by Kostick in game seven. Since the Red Wolves were the higher seed, they got choice of lane. Kostick decided to “flip,” meaning change the lane each team would bowl on.
“I feel like we make moves better than any team in the country, so I want them to make moves, as well,” he said. “There’s no defense here, so all you have is emotion. You really can’t control what your opponent shoots. All you can do is hope that your offense is better than theirs. That’s all you’ve got.”
Match of the day in the early session had to be the winner’s bracket matchup between Fairleigh Dickinson and Nebraska. Nebraska jumped out to a 3-0 advantage averaging more than 240 in the process before FDU turned the tables, winning four consecutive games, including the final three by a combined 18 pins to take the match and send the Huskers to the losers’ bracket.
“The match isn’t over until you lose four games,” FDU coach Mike LoPresti said. “All year long, we’ve been very methodical and we gather up a lot of information to help us lock in. This match, however, it took us three games to figure out what we needed to do. Then it was just about momentum.”
For the Knights, they needed to regain momentum after averaging more than 230 in their first match against Arkansas State. The difference, LoPresti said, was using Nebraska’s power style against them.
“Their game is to burn the lanes up and move the oil around,” LoPresti said. “We thought we had it figured out at the beginning of the match. By the third frame of the first game, it was gone.
“The first couple of moves we made worked, then [the shot] just totally disappered and that’s because of them and what they can do to the lanes. It took us three games to figure it out.”
Friday’s first afternoon session will feature losers’ bracket elimination matchups. Valparaiso will face Nebraska with the winner to face UMES in the second afternoon round. In the other early afternoon match, Arkansas State meets Vanderbilt with the winner to face FDU in the late session.