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updated: 2/1/2014 6:03 PM

Duff good enough; Hoffman Estates claims MSL crown

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Kayleigh Duff was worried Friday.

Not so much about how she'd perform at Saturday's Mid-Suburban League girls bowling championship, but more about whether the meet would go on at all due to the impending snowstorm.

"We were talking about it at school," said the Elk Grove senior. "It looked like it was going to be bad and we heard that they had already postponed (some other events). But with our sport, sectionals and state come up so quickly there's no time for rescheduling. So we were hoping for the best."

And with the tourney proceeding as scheduled, the best is what Duff delivered. She rolled a 257 game at Arlington Lanes en route to a 1,232 series and an overall season average of 202.62 to win the MSL individual championship.

Hoffman Estates won the team title handily, scoring 173 points to 139 for the runner-up Grens.

It's the first team championship for the Hawks in five years; Hoffman Estates won the last of its four consecutive crowns in 2008.

"I had a feeling we'd do well this season," said Hawks coach Dan Pfligler. "We basically brought back the same team as last year and added a talented freshman (Amanda Richae)."

"I was confident that if the girls bowled up to their potential they'd be in this position at the end of the season."

It was the culmination of an exciting year for Duff, who recently signed to attend and bowl at Grandview University and was on top of the MSL leader board for most of the season.

And another highlight occurred Saturday when in addition to the individual title, the Grens as a team jumped up to second place overall after a slow start in conference.

"Our team has come together this year," said Duff. "We're a family, and we know if one person doesn't do well, the others are there to pick them up."

"I was a little nervous today because I didn't bowl up to my potential Thursday (in the final MSL regular season meet), but I woke up feeling good today. I was relaxed and loose."

Palatine senior Katie Conrad was best on the day with a 1,271 6-game series, and the effort boosted her to a second-place individual finish.

Hoffman Estates senior Sarah Wille finished third, while the year of the frosh continued in earnest as Sarah Tenyer of Barrington took fourth overall in season average while Hersey's Emma Wrenn was sixth.

"I'm amazed at what I accomplished," said Wrenn, "especially being a freshman. But honestly I have to give the credit to my teammates.

"I have a tendency to focus on the negative. For example, if I miss a spare, it can frazzle me. But my teammates are always there to keep me on the bright side and help me forget about the negativity."

Tenyer's campaign was nothing short of amazing. She had the second-best regular season series, a 710, behind Wille's 747, and was much appreciated by coach Sam Raia.

"Sarah is a great competitor," said Raia, "and she's only going to get better. She deserves all the accolades she's received and she's been great for the program. Sarah is the kind of player you can build on."

"I was focusing on consistency today," said Tenyer. "I wanted to bowl up to my average and I did that."

"I'm looking forward to the postseason. I know it's going to be a little crazy, but hopefully not too crazy."

Abby Owens of Prospect rolled the top game of the day, a 269, to lead Prospect to a third-place finish.

Melyssa Donovan of Hoffman earned the fifth place individual medal, teammate Brandy Hoglund was seventh, Sarah Schwind of Schaumburg finished eighth, Arie Upshaw of Prospect was ninth and the Knights' Megan Mulcahy was 10th

Jamie Hicks of Elk Grove (1197) fired the third best series of the day, while freshman Richae gave a big assist to the Hawks win.

Richae earned the individual 12th-place medal.

"I didn't know what was going to happen this season," said Richae. "I was a little confused actually as to what team I'd be on. But once I realized I'd be on varsity, I was able to fit in and it all come together after that."

Pfligler, for one, can't wait until l the stellar 2014 freshman are seniors.

"Just wait until three years from now," said Pfligler. "The competition for the (MSL) title is going to be intense."

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