Women’s Bowling “Splits” with NEC Following Successful Season

The two time defending champions, Sacred Heart University (SHU) women’s bowling team, came up short against Merrimack in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship game on March 24, in Hamilton, N.J.

The Pioneers have finished top two in the conference for eight straight years and were looking to make their final mark, as this was their last season as part of the NEC.

While they came up short of their ultimate goal, their season is not over yet. The Pioneers qualified for the Intercollegiate Team Championship (ITC) Nationals, along with junior Molly Chisea who qualified as an individual.

“Honestly it does not feel real,” said Chisea. “Everybody was so close. I realized every shot mattered, and that was super nerve-racking. I had to focus tremendously to make it count.”

Chisea’s cumulative score of 1,328 placed her within the top six, securing her spot in the national tournament from April 17 to April 20.

Junior Morgan Brunet was one pin shy of also booking a trip to nationals, as she finished seventh with a cumulative score of 1,281.

“It would have been cool for both of us to have the experience together,” said Chisea. “We could have come together more as teammates. We also bowled in high school together, so we are used to bowling together for quite a while now.”

Freshman Madilyn Yockel has been another key component to the Pioneer’s success this season. Yockel finished 13th overall, knocking down 1,246 pins for an average of 207.7 at the individual sectional, while taking home NEC Rookie of the Week honors.

“It feels great. I think I had a breakthrough moment and it was good to get my feet underneath me and feel good about going into the end of the season,” said Yockel.

The team has also had countless other contributors this season that helped pave the road to nationals. Hannah Manetta, Paige Donovan, and Karleigh LeMond, all finished in the top 30 at the individual sectional.

ITC Nationals will take place the third week in April at Kingpin Lanes in Jeffersontown, Ky. This is the Pioneers’ first ITC Nationals appearance since 2018, meaning no active bowlers for the Pioneers have had the experience of going to nationals.

“I think it is all going to be really cool because we get to experience our first time together,” said Yockel. “I really think it is going to be a good opportunity to come together and really experience it as a whole.”

Head coach Becky Kregling formed SHU’s bowling team in 1993 and has watched the program and the sport grow to make noise on the national level.

“From what it started thirty years ago, bowling is totally different, including our program,” said Kregling. “It has been cool to be able to experience our recent success with the team. We go back to talk with some of the alumni and they see how much has changed in college bowling in general.”

The Pioneers are looking forward to leaving their mark at ITC Nationals and carry that momentum into next season.

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