Watterson High School bowling coach Jerry Wagner likes what he has seen from the boys team so far.
The Eagles were averaging 1,970 pins through five matches. They defeated Northland 1,997-1,730 on Dec. 10 before losing to Columbus Academy 1,982-1,867 on Dec. 11 to fall to 4-1 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division.
Last season, Watterson finished 7-10 overall and went 7-7 in COHSBC-Central to tie Academy, Grandview and Hartley for seventh behind champion St. Charles (14-0).
"This is the best group we've had since our first year (2000-01) when we won the city tournament championship, which was as far as you could go (in the postseason) back then," said Wagner, who is in his 13th season.
"Some of our guys have been with me for three or four years and they're stepping up as juniors and seniors. We've already shot over 2,000 a couple of times, and I haven't had a team shoot in the 2,000s this early (in a season) since that first team we had."
The starters for the Eagles are seniors Adam Forshey, Aram Hosenfeld, Michael Liston and Tony Viola and junior David Carter. Also expected to be key contributors are seniors Philip Andrews and Nate Majka and junior Griffin Maxwell.
Andrews and Liston are the team captains.
"David Carter is our only boy who bowls year-round, but Tony Viola has bowled so well for us that he's moved into our No. 1 spot," Wagner said. "The rest of our guys are doing well, too. They're hitting their marks and adjusting when we're telling them to.
"Most of our guys don't compete year-round like some other teams do, and it's difficult to compete with year-round bowlers when you don't stick with it outside of the high school season."
Last season, Watterson finished 13th (2,467) in the 24-team sectional at Columbus Western Bowl behind champion Jonathan Alder (2,918), as the top nine teams and top nine individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the district tournament at HP Lanes.
The Eagles did not have any district qualifiers.
"We're excited because the way we've started this season has been a big change-around compared to the way we bowled last year," Wagner said.
"We should be able to win our division and I will be surprised if we don't win it. Since we don't have many guys competing year-around, I think they will continue to get better over the season. I hope we can start shooting around 2,300 to 2,400 by the end of the season, because that's what it will take to put us in contention to make it to the state tournament."
Girls bowlers looking to continue success
The girls bowling team was 2-1 overall and in the COHSBC-Central after losing to Northland 1,599-1,408 on Dec. 10 and defeating Academy 1,474-1,405 on Dec. 11.
Last season, Watterson finished 10-4 overall and went 8-3 in the COHSBC-Central to finish third behind Ready (11-0) and Northland (9-2).
Leading the way for the Eagles are seniors Miranda Barnewell, Katie Eberhart and Colleen McDaniel.
Also on the team are seniors Kelly Byrne, Maria Condo, Emily Khoury, Mary Merkle, Claire Pappa and Anna Toborg and junior Jaide Reinhard.
Eberhart and McDaniel are the team captains.
"I think our girls team will be pretty decent, too," Wagner said. "Colleen, Katie and Miranda are all bowling well."
Last season, Watterson finished 11th (1,956) in the 22-team sectional at Columbus Western Bowl behind champion Briggs (2,563). Claire Enderle, a 2012 graduate, finished 19th (475) and Eberhart tied for 24th (461) to qualify for district as individuals.
At district, Enderle finished 21st (497) and Eberhart tied for 46th (446), as the top three finishers not on a qualifying team advanced to state.
"Our girls could win at least three-fourths of their games and advance to district," Wagner said. "To do that, we'll need to find girls who can give us good fourth and fifth scores behind our top three performers, who have been pretty consistent."