Earnest a HOFer

-A A +A

Vandalia native inducted by Vanderbilt University; then wins event for Team USA

By Andrew Harner

A Vandalia graduate has become the first bowler to be inducted in Vanderbilt University’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and that honor came in the same week as she was competing in a major bowling championship and preparing to represent the United States in another tournament.

Josie Earnest received her induction notice last Tuesday, one day after she began bowling at the U.S. Open in Columbus, Ohio, where she would finish 11th at the end of the tournament.

Then on Tuesday, Earnest's award-winning week continued when she was named the adult women's singles champion while representing Team USA at the Tournament of the Americas in Florida, winning the gold medal with a 215 average.

Earnest was a two-time NCAA Player of the Year and a four-time All-American – including three first-team selections – becoming the most decorated female student-athlete in Vanderbilt history.

She will be honored, along with six others, at the Hall of Fame Dinner on Sept. 6, where she will give an acceptance speech in front of more than 400 people, including the university’s top administrators. The next night, she will be honored during the football game against Austin Peay.

“The 2013 Hall of Fame class was announced today, and I am honored to say that I am a member of that class,” Earnest said in a blog posted to Vanderbilt’s official bowling website. “I never imagined I would be a Hall of Famer at Vandy, especially this soon, but I couldn't be more gratified that they thought that highly of my career.

“It means a lot to me, and my goal is to help my girls become Hall of Famers one day.”

Earnest currently serves as Vanderbilt’s assistant women’s bowling coach, choosing to stay a part of the program she came to after graduating from Vandalia Community High School as salutatorian in 2006.

As the No. 1 high school recruit when she was a senior, Earnest chose to attend Vanderbilt, despite it not being known at the time as a leading bowling program.

She helped bring the program to prominence, helping the Commodores win the 2007 NCAA national championship, and her presence as a bowler and as a coach has helped draw some of the nation’s top recruits to Nashville, Tenn.

In 2008, Earnest was named Tennessee’s Amateur Co-Athlete of the Year, a first for a Vanderbilt athlete.

All of those accolades – as well as plenty of natural talent – have allowed her to represent Team USA in numerous tournaments, both as an amateur and as a professional.

She currently is in Sunrise, Fla., representing Team USA at the Pan-American Bowling Confederation's Lee Evans Tournament of the Americas, which is the oldest international event in the American Zone.

Earnest opened the week-long event in first place among adult women, knocking down 1,342 pins over six games  to set the pace by 76 pins.

Her best game was 244, and she had at least 227 in four of the six games.

That continued in day two when she won the adult women's singles by knocking down another  1,242 pins to win the gold medal by 144 pins.

She again had a high game of 244.

The event continues through Saturday, with 36 total games.

Champions are named in singles, doubles, mixed doubles, mixed team, individual all-events and national all-events.

More information about the Tournament of the Americas is available at bowlingamericas.com.

Mere days before that tournament commenced, Earnest finished up a strong performance in the U.S. Open.

Last Friday, she was in fifth place after the first round of match play, falling just five pins short of being among the top four who qualify for the finals, but she fell to 11th after the second round, averaging 200.65.

In the third and final round of match play, she jumped one position, finishing with a 200.35 average over the course of 51 games in the entire U.S. Open. Her total pinfall was 10,458 pins.

At 8-13 overall, she was the highest-ranked bowler with a losing record in match play, and finished better than bowlers who finished with winning records in the final round.

That record hindered Earnest, because each match-play win garnered a bowler an additional 30 bonus pins.

Her 11th-place finish is the highest finish she has recorded in three years of bowling at the event.

On Monday, July 23, the first day of the event, Earnest averaged 202.9 over the first eight games to place 11th in the opening qualifying round. She bumped her average to 204.3 after eight more games the next day to move to eighth in the standings.

Last Wednesday, Earnest’s climb up the leaderboard continued, as she moved into a tie for fifth place with a 203.2 average after 24 games.

A day later, she took a hit, however, falling to 11th after the six-game Cashers Round. Her event average fell to 200.1, but her placing was still high enough for her to qualify for match play.