Maryland Eastern Shore No. 1 after winning championsip last season
NASHVILLE -- The National Tenpins Coaches Association (NTCA) released its preseason poll and Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) garnered 14 first-place votes and 634 points to earn the No. 1 ranking. UMES was voted No. 1 in the final poll last season after winning its third (and second consecutive) NCAA title.
"It's an honor," head coach Kristina Frahm said. "We earned this same ranking at the end of 2011 and started last season on top and then fell and had to fight to get back there. What is important is how we finish, but it sure is nice to be recognized at the start of the year."
That fight should go a little easier than last year when the Hawks had to replace three All-America honorees. Coming into this year the National Champs only saw one player cross the graduation stage, Paula Vilas.
"Paula is a big loss for us," Frahm said. "She was not only a great bowler, but was such an emotional lift at the lead-off spot for our team. Luckily we have a couple of young ladies that can step in and hopefully we won't skip a beat."
The poll saw a wide variety in terms of teams getting votes. Six different teams garnered a first place vote.
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"All the teams have been improving exponentially over the last few years and competition is getting tougher," National Ten Pin Coaches Association President Becky Kregling said. "This is the first time we've had six different teams receive first-place votes, so it will be exciting to see how the season plays out."
Arkansas State (589 points) earned the second spot and five first place votes. All the Red Wolves' starters from the 2011-12 team will return.
Last year's NCAA Runner-Up, Fairleigh Dickinson (553 points, 1 first), garnered the third spot in the poll. The Knights lost two regulars, but NCAA Player of the year Danielle McEwan will return for her senior season as they look to repeat as Northeast Conference regular season champions.
Coming off a semi-final appearance in last year's Championship, Vanderbilt (495 points, 1 first) takes the fourth spot in the poll. The Commodores look to replace two starters.
Rounding out the top five is Nebraska (477 points, 1 first). The Cornhuskers return a solid group as they look to make their ninth trip to the NCAA Championship.