BY ASIA MCCRAY
The Sacred Heart University women’s bowling team won the program’s fourth Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship title after beating Mount St. Mary’s on March 24 in the NEC Tournament.
According to head coach Becky Kregling, the team’s tournament run was unexpected because of preseason rankings.
“It was one of these years where we weren’t expected to win, so it’s actually a different feeling,” said Kregling. “It’s been a long season with a lot of work on and off the lane, so it’s cool that it actually fell together in time.”
On March 23, the team took on Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round of the NEC Tournament at Howell Lanes in Hamilton, N.J.
According to Athletic Communications, the Pioneers came from behind to force the Knights into a best-of-7-baker tiebreaker, where SHU won 4-3.
Redshirt junior Rebecca Armand knew her team’s season wasn’t going to end, regardless of the outcome of the match.
“Our matches are double elimination, so winning the first one means you at least have two more matches left,” said Armand. “We always go back and forth with wins and losses against them, but it was just nice knowing that no matter how we bowled against Fairleigh Dickinson, we weren’t getting knocked out of the bracket just yet.”
Each bowler has focused on their individual craft to make the team better throughout the season. Sophomore Rachel Bamford works on her weaknesses in order to improve the team results.
“I am always working on my release so I can improve on getting behind the ball more. I’ve been working on that for years because I know every little bit I get better will help in the long run,” said Bamford. “I do my own drills and focus on what I need to work on individually so that I can perform better when it’s time to bowl with the team.”
Sophomore Colby Jones says she remains calm and thinks about the advice she has received from her coaching staff.
“During my pre-shot routine, I think about what Becky and Rich have told me to do, whether that is making a move or throwing it better. I try not to overthink it, and one way I accomplish that is singing a song in my head,” said Jones. “Another way to not overthink is just getting up on the lane and going.”
Jones also believes that outside of individual work, the team’s chemistry as a whole, from start to finish, played another huge role in their success during the NEC tournament.
“Over this past weekend, everything just clicked. We have been working hard all year to try and achieve the goal of calling ourselves ‘NEC Champs’ and making it to the big dance,” said Jones. “We always made sure we supported each other, knowing we are better bowlers than what was shown on the monitor.”
According to athletic communications both Jones and Bamford received conference honors. Bamford was named to the All-NEC First Team and Jones was named to the Second Team.
“I knew I had bowled better stats-wise, but I didn’t know I was going to make it,” said Bamford. “From last year I knew I wanted to do better, so when I got the news, I was really excited and honored.”
This was the first time Jones received an all-conference accolade.
“It was a pleasant surprise and honestly quite unexpected that I was picked for second team. Knowing that I was picked showed me that I have what it takes, not only for myself, but that I have been a productive member of my team,” said Jones.
Bamford put the championship game away with her punch out during the team’s tiebreaker.
“At that moment in time, I wasn’t looking at our score or our opponent’s score, so I didn’t know I had to punch out. I knew I needed something, I told myself to just execute and the pinch just fell my way and so I got up again and just kept going,” said Bamford.
The team’s next match will be in their sixth National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament appearance, where they will take on Caldwell University in the opening round on April 6. The match will be played at Millsboro Lanes in Millsboro, Del.