By: NoraNoel Nolan
The Sacred Heart women’s bowling team had a 13-5 season record, coming out on top in the NEC (Northeast Conference) as the leading team with the most wins in the regular season. On March 24 and 25, the Pioneers traveled to Howell, N.J., to compete in the NEC Championship.
Since Sacred Heart went into the tournament with the best record in the regular season, they got a bye-round and a high seed going into the championship.
Four teams played in the championship. They consisted of Sacred Heart, Saint Francis Brooklyn (SFBK), Saint Francis University (SFU), and Long Island University Brooklyn (LIU).
Sacred Heart bowlers competed against SFU in the championship. The Pioneers won the Quint Baker but SFU won the Traditional game.
Sacred Heart began with a 3-1 lead but Saint Francis University persisted to force game seven. SFU would ultimately prevail to win the NEC Championship.
“That moment really showed SFU what we are capable of. I think it showed our team and our coaches that we can do this. We can win, we can beat these teams. It really goes to show that we fight until the very last frame,” said senior Amanda Nardiello.
The Pioneers’ head coach, Becky Kregling, won the NEC Coach of the Year Award for the third consecutive year. This honor is determined by the other coaches in the conference, as they will all vote on the award. The regular season winner does not always garner this accolade.
“Being recognized by your peers year after year is pretty neat,” said Kregling.
Kregling is currently in the reign of her 25th season as head coach, as she has been with the women’s bowling team since its inaugural year in 1993.
“They were the most intense group I’ve ever seen. They were so into it, yet so attached to each other. Bowling is an individual sport where we put our scores together, so it’s sometimes tough to really be that connected. But they were, and I was really impressed,” said Kregling.
Two of her top athletes, Nardiello and junior Dominique Newton, were both named to the All-NEC First Team.
“I’m always team driven, so I don’t usually focus on my own stats individually when we’re at NECs. I just focus on the team. We want to win the Regional Championship again,” said Newton.
The bowling team has 15 girls on their roster. The team is able to perform at their highest level by supporting one another and by having an atmosphere of motivation, drive, and a pure love of the game.
“When you get to that higher level of play, it takes a lot of talent, commitment, and work,” said Kregling.
The bowlers stood and cheered on their teammates for over six hours during the NEC Championship.
They do have the option to sit down, but the players get such an adrenaline rush from competitions that they cannot bring themselves to do so. They are excited and want to be on their feet.
Despite not coming away with a fourth NEC Championship title, the bowlers are hopeful for next year. They are confident for their upcoming tournament, the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) Championships, which will be held in Lincoln, Neb. It has a field of 16 teams and runs from April 19-21.