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updated: 1/26/2013 7:17 PM

Duff struts her stuff, and Elk Grove earns MSL three-peat

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Make it three in a row for Elk Grove.

The Grenadiers, led by a strong performance from junior Kayleigh Duff, held off a late charge from Hoffman Estates Saturday at Arlington Lanes to claim its third consecutive Mid-Suburban League girls bowling championship.

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Duff fired games of 230 and 225 and excelled with a 671 series in the morning session and a 601 in the afternoon.

"This three-peat just shows how these girls deal with adversity," said jubilant first-year coach Jason Svehla. "They had to contend with a new coaching staff this year (the Grens won their first two crowns under Kim Sander),"but they just took that in stride and their ability showed today."

Hoffman's Sarah Wille won the MSL individual title. The junior was in first place from Day 1 of the conference season and rolled four games over 200 (234, 223, 212, 211) Saturday to nail down the crown.

"This year was a learning experience for me," said Wille, who finished with the league's only plus-200 average (200.23). "I gained confidence and learned to be a more well-rounded athlete and compete in pressure situations. At the beginning of the season I was letting the pressure get to me, but I finally realized that every time out I just had to bowl my best, and let whatever happens happen."

Duff was second individually (194.47), and the junior said the day took a nerve-wracking turn in the sixth and final game of the meet when the Grens and Hawks were assigned to bowl on adjacent lanes with the teams separated by a mere 3.5 points.

"Everyone was going crazy," said the junior, referring to the throng that lined the space behind the alleys. "We just looked at each other and said, 'We've got to step up.'"

"Today was all about the team," said Hawks freshman Jordyn Fera. "We told ourselves that we had to fight as hard as we could and pull together."

The battle went down to the wire but it was the Grens who persevered, winning the championship with a point total of 164.5. The Hawks' second-place mark was 154, while Palatine finished third with a 142.

Pirates senior Anna Lessner took third in the individual race with an overall 193.43.

"This was exciting," said Lessner. "It was a crazy experience here today, but we had a good season overall and I'm really proud of everyone. My teammates and I became very close and I think this has been our best team ever."

Lessner also had the MSL's top game (277, along with Prospect's Nicole Cusack) and series, a 698.

In the team race at Arlington, Conant finished fourth while Prospect was fifth and Schaumburg took sixth.

Individually, Meghan Mulcahy of Prospect was fourth with a year-long average of 189.03; Courtney Slavich of Conant (187.67) took the fifth-place medal and teammate Jordyn Wagner (185.85) finished sixth.

Katie Conrad of Palatine scored a seventh-place individual finish with a 185 average while Elk Grove senior Abby Nix, who made a big contribution to the Grens victory Saturday, was eighth at 184.49.

Nix rolled a 214 while teammate Allison Peters fired three games of 205 for a team that, according to Duff, was "super-underestimated all season.

"Nobody gave us a chance to do this," said the junior. "I'm so proud of the fact that we've won three straight. It shows that even though we keep losing great bowlers every year (to graduation), we stick together and pull together as a team."

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