NCAA Bowling

Bowling | Ready for Any Roll

Bowling | Ready for Any Roll

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than one championship voyage has run aground when the person at the helm couldn’t resist tinkering with success. For Vanderbilt bowling head coach John Williamson, there was certainly risk in fiddling with the lineup that carried the Commodores through last April’s NCAA Regional and into the Final Four for the 10th time in 19 seasons.

But as Williamson and associate head coach Josie Earnest Barnes watched practice before the opening round of the Final Four in Las Vegas, the next move hardly felt like the typical bettor’s gamble. Jennifer Loredo made their choice obvious.

“I don’t know anything else,” Barnes recalled telling Williamson at the time. “But I know that she’s going to have to play if we want to win this thing.”

Williamson didn’t need convincing. In addition to her strong showing at practice that day, Loredo had history at the South Point Bowling Plaza. The lanes had suited the southpaw before: she won junior events and earned a place on the junior national team there. When the Final Four began in earnest, despite having not started in either the regional or conference tournament, Loredo was one of five bowlers in the lineup. She stayed there all weekend. Her clutch play helped the Commodores weather an opening defeat and mount a historic comeback to win their third national title. When the week began, she was hoping she was among the five starters; when it was over she left Las Vegas as the fifth Commodore to be named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Bowler.

“We call South Point the house that Jen built,” Barnes said. “It felt like if somebody was going to beat us, they were going to have to go through her—and she knew that. She carried herself with a lot of poise. It still gives me chills talking about it because it was just so cool to watch.”

Loredo’s moment of glory was a long time coming. It stretched across years: Across the ups and downs and patience required to compete for playing time on one of the country’s deepest teams. Across the challenges of a first year of college altered by a pandemic. Across an ocean, for that matter, rooted in unbreakable family bonds shaped by immigration and starting anew.

“She’s everything you want a Vanderbilt student-athlete to be: a member of the Honor Council, aspiring lawyer.”

Vanderbilt bowling head coach John Williamson


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