By Brandon Terlecky and Joshua Fitch
The Youngstown State University bowling team saw their best season in seven years come to an end as they lost their matches in the Southland Bowling League Competition during USA Bowl.
YSU lost their first conference tournament with the sixth-seed Penguins losing in their match to Arkansas State University (2-0). They then later fell in their bracket where they would also lose to Louisiana Tech University (2-0), who was the seventh-seed going into the tournament.
Despite their struggles, Penguins coach Doug Kuberski was pleased with what he saw.
“I’m proud of our work, proud of our girls,” Kuberski said. “We fought and despite a couple of downfalls. We handled it well and were overall proud of our performance.”
The tournament featured big matches where teams would have to win two out of three to advance. That includes a Baker match and a best of seven Baker match.
The team would fall 960-917 in their traditional match. Nikki Mendez posted a score of 202 and the Penguins would fall in the Baker match with 260.
“Our energy could have been better, for sure,” Mendez said. “We just need to kick it up, overall we were okay.”
Junior Rachel Darrow finished six spots back in 52nd with a score of 975. She said along with energy, focus is something they need to work on going forward.
“Focus is everything,” Darrow said. “We competed and were pleased, but things could’ve went better if we had a sharp focus on everything, you learn from it.”
Four of YSU’s players bowled over 180 this past weekend against Louisiana Tech, and Dietz lead the pack with a score of 205. They would go on to lose the traditional match 988-931, and they dropped their Baker match 925-891 which would completely take them out of the tournament.
Kuberski in his first season at the helm for the Penguins added that through the season didn’t end the way the team wanted, the upcoming offseason will be an important one to recalibrate.
“It’s nice to have a little time off to kind of touch home, touch base and recalibrate for next year,” Kuberski said. “Part of me wants to bowl next week, another part is also happy we have a few months to kind of get ready too. We’ll work a lot, get ready to be an elite team.”
The women are looking forward with only losing two seniors and expecting more improvements and sharper focus. Nikki Mendez and Darrow entering their senior year will have a huge impact.
The Penguins also announced three new recruits to the program on March 29, true freshman Megan Grams, redshirt sophomore Emma Wrenn and true freshman Alicia Yacono.
Megan Grams has been an all-conference honoree four times as well as a three-time selection on the All-Northwest Region team as a part of her high school Michigan City, located in Northern Indiana.
Emma Wrenn transferred from Saint Francis University, where as a freshman she was named to the All-Rookie Team and most valuable player of the Northeast Conference Tournament. Wrenn was also named Freshman Female Athlete of the Year at SFU.
Alicia Yacono will graduate from Massillon Jackson High School in the spring of 2019 before attending YSU. During her tenure at Massillon, she was named First-Team-All-Ohio as a junior.
“It’s for sure exciting, not only in general but specifically with those three,” Kuberski said. “We got a bit of a local flavor and we have some Indiana and Illinois flavor and a nice national, regional mix. They’re all going to be great players.”
Graduating senior Rachel Ellis started with the bowling program while it was still a club sport, before officially entering the NCAA three years ago. Now that her time as a Penguin is coming to close, she wants to leave behind a winning and hard-working attitude.
“I want to get them to work as hard as we do now,” Ellis said, “There’s definitely a few on the team that work the hardest out of anyone and I hope that they’ll just want to work just as hard and not just go through the motions. I want them to come in wanting to bowl and wanting to put the effort into it. They don’t just want to be good, they want to be great.”
It is safe to say the program will have plenty of leadership and will be looking to not only get back to where they were last season, but go even further in 2019.
Bios and stats courtesy of YSU Sports Information.