Johnson Central’s Hana Hackworth competes in the state bowling tournament on Thursday in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE Hana Hackworth considers herself somewhat of a pioneer.

A week and a half ago, the Johnson Central junior became the first bowler from her school to qualify for the KHSAA state championship. On Thursday, she added to that accomplishment by finishing fourth in the girls singles event at the Executive Strike and Spare Lanes.

Another honor was bestowed upon her on Tuesday, when she was named the 2019-20 Midway University/KHSAA Female Bowling Student-Athlete of the Year.

“I think this year I’ve made great strides. Nobody has ever been here from Johnson Central. So, you can’t ask for anything better than that,” she said. “I’ve made history basically, if you want to say that, for Johnson Central.”

At the Region 8 Championship, Hackworth also finished fourth with six rounds of scores of 163, 268, 167, 156, 170 and 161 in the stepladder round to earn her historic berth to state. Only the game-two 268 was better than what she recorded on Thursday.

Although she has been bowling about half her life and for the Johnson Central team since its inception six years ago when she was in fifth grade, this season she ramped up her schedule and started competing in more events with the goal of eventually being good enough to bowl on a college team.

Don Hackworth, Hana’s father who also serves as an assistant for the Golden Eagles and the co-head coach of the girls team, attributed her improvement to her participation with the Kentucky Youth Bowling Tour last summer as well as the competition she faced on this season’s Johnson Central’s schedule.

“Last year she bowled on a summer tour, the KYBT, that’s where she had her first experience with the stepladder format. That’s when she started stepping up her level of competition,” said the elder Hackworth.

The results of those experiences culminated in Thursday’s performance, which included bowling a 235-192-213=640 to claim a sixth-place finish in the qualification round.

“It went pretty well. I had two good games. I had one a little bit rough game, but overall I bowled pretty good,” she said of her opening-round result, which sent her into the eight-person semifinals. “I was a little nervous to see if I would get in the top eight, but I pulled through.”

She attributed part of her success to her mental approach.

“Honestly, I just did my thing. I just didn’t pay attention to the score. I tried not to get nervous, just told myself not to give up, just to give myself 10 frames,” she said. “I was pretty proud of myself of the way I handled it. My mom gave me a bracelet that says, ‘Never Give Up’ and that’s all that I focused on. I just didn’t think about anything else.”

With only the top four qualifying for the stepladder finals, Hackworth remained focused.

“The first game I did OK and then the second game everybody kind of struggled. But, I did good so I was feeling kind of confident going into the (next) round,” she said. I just stayed with the (lane) mark that I was at that was working for me the first three games. And then I just kept with that, kept my head and I just did my best.”

The result was a 213-209 and a five-round total of 1,062, which safely secured her the final spot for the championship round.

In the stepladder format, the fourth-seeded qualifier faces the third seed with the winner moving on to face the second seed. Whomever successfully navigates those games faces the top seed for the state title.

Hackworth’s run ended in her next match when she fell to Harrison County’s Brooklyn Fryman 237 to 216.

True to the form exhibited by her on-lane demeanor, Hackworth took the result in stride.

“Honestly, she bowled great and I bowled good. I missed one spare. I’m kinda happy with the outcome. It was just her day and it wasn’t mine. That’s just how it was,” she said.

Coach Hackworth was also pleased.

“I thought she kept her composure well today for her first time at State,” he said. “She had a couple of bad shots, but she didn’t let that get her rattled. All in all, I thought she bowled well.”

With her senior season ahead, the younger Hackworth plans to learn from Thursday’s performance and return refocused for the 2020-21 season.

“I’m just going to take the experience with me and work harder in practice and try to come back next year and win,” she said.

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