By Andrew Holman | Sports Editor
One year down for Duquesne women’s bowling and a lot to be proud of.
The tandem of freshman Kelsey Hackbart and junior Cassidy Powers were named to the NEC All-Rookie team. Hackbart qualified for the 2017 Intercollegiate Singles Championships, which will take place on April 18-22 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And as a team, the Dukes placed fifth in sectionals — just 80 pins away from a bid to nationals for the entire squad.
“Our performance in Allentown gave us a huge boost of confidence as well as belief that we can be a great program … and we will get there,” head coach Jody Fetterhoff said in a release. “Not many people outside of this team believed we would be in position to go to nationals with four games to go in our first season. This team fought and will only get better in those situations. With everyone returning and the recruiting class coming in next year, this program’s future is very bright.”
The Red & Blue finished behind a quartet of nationally ranked opponents in the Allentown Sectional, where they just missed a bid to the Intercollegiate Team Championships.
They finished the first day of sectional competition in fourth place, so they were on pace to grab a bid. However, the Dukes struggled in the third block of the event and dropped two spots putting themselves in a tough hole. The team worked its way back into fourth temporarily, but was outperformed down the stretch by No. 10 Notre Dame College. The Falcons claimed the final spot in nationals and ended the chance for the Dukes to wear the glass slipper in their inaugural campaign.
But the season isn’t over for Hackbart, individually, as she will have the chance to compete against the top bowlers in the country three weeks from now. Hackbart qualified after a stellar second-place finish at the Allentown Sectionals, in which she placed ahead of 119 bowlers.
“The emotions that I felt when I qualified for nationals were indescribable,” Hackbart said. “To make nationals as a freshman was incredible, and I still cannot believe it happened. Going against those girls, I really felt proud of myself that I beat the top girls in women’s bowling.”
Powers and freshman Megan Cook also finished in the top 40 at No. 34 and No. 40, respectively. Freshmen Lauren Mayberry (No. 63), Elizabeth Petkac (No. 71) and Janae Haller (No. 98) all finished within the top 100.
On March 27 when the Northeast Conference (NEC) All-Conference selections were announced, both Hackbart and Powers found their names etched into the All-Rookie team list. They combined for four NEC Rookie of the Week honors throughout the 2016-17 season. The Dukes tied for the most bowlers on the rookie team with Saint Francis University.
“It is a very big honor to be named to the NEC All-Rookie team, and it just goes to show hard work pays off,” Powers said.
Powers, Hackbart and the rest of the Dukes will all be back next season along with the recruiting class that Fetterhoff has coming to the Bluff.
“This program is going to continue to grow,” Powers said. “I believe Duquesne will become one of the top teams in both the conference and a recognized team around the nation.”
Not only have the Dukes impressed with their performance over the course of their inaugural season, they have bonded outside of the alley as well.
“My relationship with my coach and teammates is a very good relationship,” Hackbart said. “We are really a team in bowling and outside of bowling also. We work together on the lanes when we need to the most, and our coach is right there with us, always supporting us.”
The Duquesne bowling community will be supporting Hackbart as she focuses in on nationals before they look ahead to an even better year in their second go-around.