The best collegiate bowling in America happens in the Northeast Conference.
The supporting facts to that argument are plentiful, and Danielle McEwan’s latest accomplishment only strengthens the claim.
McEwan is in her fourth year competing for No. 5 Fairleigh Dickinson, one of eight Northeast Conference teams who are ranked in the latest edition of the NTCA Top 20 Poll. No other conference has more than three representatives amongst the nation’s 20-best teams.
FDU’s anchor bowler is as decorated as they come. As the 2011-12 NTCA Bowler of the Year, McEwan led a quintet of NEC bowlers in garnering All-America honors last year, but even that accomplishment pales in comparison to her latest score.
Topping Vanderbilt assistant coach Josie Earnest along the way, McEwan won the individual championship at the Team USA Trials for the second year in a row.
The crown means McEwan can claim to be the best amateur bowler in America for the next 12 months.
“This kid is amazing,” said FDU’s Mike LoPresti, who has guided the Knights to two NCAA national championship titles during his tenure. “She always makes us proud. She now gets to travel and compete all over the world again. You just can’t say enough about her.”
McEwan is the first bowler in nearly a decade to repeat as the Team USA Trials champion.
The reigning NEC Bowler of the Year will be the sole US representative at the QubicaAMF World Cup and will be a member of Team USA during the calendar year.
For now, however, it’s back to NCAA competition for McEwan and Sacred Heart senior Jackie Carbonetto, who also contested the Team USA Trials and will be a member of Junior Team USA in 2013.
With the second half of the NCAA season underway, all 10 Northeast Conference teams will contest the Kutztown University Invitational on Jan. 25-27. NEC member Kutztown, which is ranked No. 10 in the nation, will host the largest NCAA bowling meet of the season for the fourth consecutive year.
If the number of its Top 20 teams isn’t enough to set the NEC in a class of its own, then how about the fact that one of its members hosts the nation’s most-attended NCAA meet? Or the fact that 33 percent of All-America honors handed out last year went to Northeast Conference bowlers?
Oh, and no other conference is home to the two-time defending Team USA Trials Champion.
NEC Bowling Update
And They’re Off
Following a six-week hiatus, the 2012-13 bowling season has resumed. Four of the NEC’s 10 members lifted the lid off the season’s second half this past weekend (Jan. 19-20) at the Terrier New Year Knockdown. Hosted by NEC member St. Francis Brooklyn, the eight-team tournament field also included LIU Brooklyn, Kutztown and Sacred Heart. Defending NCAA champion Maryland-Eastern Shore, which hails from the MEAC, also contested the event, which was won by No. 9 Wisconsin-Whitewater. LIU Brooklyn accounted for the best showing of the NEC contingent (in terms of total pinfall). The Blackbirds’ pinfall trailed only that of UWW and UMES. Despite bowling well, LIU ran into some hot teams and managed only a 5-7 win-loss record as a result.
“We had a lot of close losses this weekend to top-ranked teams, so with small adjustments in practice this week and spare practice, we hope to make up for this weekend at the Kutztown Invitational next weekend,” said LIU head coach Kayla Jones, who was a first team all-NEC selection during her playing days at Kutztown.
Blackbirds Take Both Weekly Honors
NEC Bowler of the Week: BRITTANY HART, LIU BROOKLYN
Hart, a four-time NEC Rookie of the Week as a freshman, earns the first weekly honor of her sophomore season on the heels of her performance at the Terriers’ New Year Knockdown. The second-year Blackbird opened the second half of the 2012-13 campaign by averaging 21.81 pins per frame over the course of a two-day, eight-team tournament that was hosted by NEC member St. Francis Brooklyn. Helping LIU Brooklyn compile the third-highest pinfall in the tournament field, Hart filled 92.6 percent of 108 frames bowled and cashed in on 58.6 percent of her strike attempts. Hart was consistently spectacular throughout both traditional team matches and baker play. The 21.77 pins per frame she averaged during baker play was not far off the 218.3 game average she produced in six traditional team bouts. Hart’s traditional average was the fourth-highest on the tournament’s individual leader board. After bowling an uncharacteristic 171 game in a 33-pin setback to Delaware State, her lone outlier of the day, Hart rebounded by turning in a 225-pin performance followed by a 236 game in victories over NEC rivals Sacred Heart and St. Francis Brooklyn. Her high game of the weekend came in the form of a 245-pin performance in a tight 1,053-1,035 setback against No. 9 Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her top moment in baker play came in the Blackbirds’ final match of the weekend. Occupying the anchor position, she threw 12 straight strikes to carry LIU past DSU, 831-733. Hart is the second Blackbird to win the NEC Bowler of the Week award this season. Mariah Hatfield captured the final honor of the season’s first half back on Dec. 6.NEC
NEC Rookie of the Week: NATASHA BIDWELL, LIU BROOKLYN
Bidwell came off the bench and made some noise during the Terriers’ New Year Knockdown. With LIU Brooklyn, along with three other NEC programs, opening the second half of the 2012-13 season at the eight-team meet, Bidwell saw her first action in the third match of the weekend. The rookie righty’s first traditional team game of 2013 was a 243-pin performance in a runaway win over MEAC member Hampton. Bidwell was at her best during the traditional play portion of the two-day tournament. She accounted for a 206.75 average over four matches, three of which were victories for the Blackbirds. When factoring in her baker performance, Bidwell averaged 19.2 pins per frame over the course of the weekend. She converted 31 of 72 (.431) strike attempts and posted an .817 filled frames percentage. The NEC Rookie of the Week honor is the second of the season for Bidwell. The first-year Blackbird first earned the award on Nov. 14 after posting a 212.9 average at the Northeast Conference Fall Meet.