When Jerry Wagner became the first coach of the Watterson High School boys bowling team for the 2000-01 season, the Eagles were the top team in central Ohio with Wagner's sons, Jamey and Jerrod, leading the way.

When Jerry Wagner became the first coach of the Watterson High School boys bowling team for the 2000-01 season, the Eagles were the top team in central Ohio with Wagner's sons, Jamey and Jerrod, leading the way.

After losing both Jamey (2001 graduate) and Jerrod (2003 graduate), Watterson struggled the next seven seasons because of a lack of experienced bowlers who were active in the sport year-round.

Last season was particularly difficult for the Eagles, as they went 3-14 overall and finished 30th (2,989) at the 32-team Division I sectional at Eastland Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (4,350). Only the top nine teams from each sectional advanced to district.

However, because of the improvement of several of his team's top returnees and the addition of a year-round bowler in freshman Dave Carter, Wagner is confident the Eagles will prove to be much more competitive this season.

Watterson has started 2-1 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division. The Eagles beat Ready 1,784-1,708 on Dec. 7, defeated DeSales by forfeit on Dec. 10 and lost to Northland 1,698-1,640 on Dec. 13.

"This is the most experience we've had since my first and second seasons here, and we were good that (first) year, winning the City tournament, which was as far as you could go back in the days before there was a state tournament," Wagner said. "I'm not predicting the same kind of success we had that year, because my sons were really good, but I do think this is going to be the best team we've had since my boys bowled for me."

Returning to help lead the boys team are juniors Luke Byorth, Ben Facket, Adam Fortshey, Joseph Meeks, Clark Sabula and Hank Schaab, and sophomores Phillip Andrews, Aram Hosenfeld and Michael Liston.

"I've asked a couple of my teammates to join a bowling league with me, so that we can continue to get better together," Carter said. "The goal this year is to go all the way to state."

•The girls team opened Dec. 7 with a 1,691-1,544 win over Ready before beating DeSales by forfeit on Dec. 10 and defeating Northland 1,732-1,640 on Dec. 13.

Last season, the Eagles went 3-12 and finished 22nd (2,412) at the 26-team Division I sectional at Eastland Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (3,998).

"This year's team has a good shot at winning the Central Division because we have a lot more experience and are already doing better than we've done the past several years," Wagner said.

Returnees for the Eagles are seniors Gia Fantozzi, Alexa Gainer, Caitlyn McDaniel and Morgan Ventresco, junior Claire Enderle and sophomores Kendall Bachinski, Colleen McDaniel and Alisa Noll.

The girls squad also has added a year-round bowler in freshman Kelly Bishop, who has a team-best 167 average.

"I didn't know a lot of my teammates in the beginning, but they've become my friends immediately and we're like a big family," Bishop said. "Our goals are to make it to district and state."