The Big Walnut High School boys and girls bowling teams had some clear-cut leaders when the season started in seniors Jon McClelland and Cierra Hite.
“It’s going to be exciting seeing what happens with those two,” said second-year coach Pat McClelland, Jon’s father.
Hite was the girls team’s only district qualifier last season. She rolled a 438 series in the sectional at Eastland Lanes to finish 31st of 161 competitors and secure the final district-qualifying berth. She then rolled a 376 series at district at HP Lanes to tie for 72nd of 92 competitors.
This season, she had a 162.1 scoring average per game through two matches.
The boys team did not have any district qualifiers last season. Another key returnee, senior Luke Hartings, led the Golden Eagles at sectional, rolling a 509 series to finish 27th of 158 competitors. McClelland finished 31st (506).
McClelland was leading the boys team with a 206.4 average through three matches this season.
“My goal this year is to make states,” he said. “I have a good feeling (about the season) and I think I can get far.”
The boys team has two other returnees in senior Brandon Mayer and junior Conner Leidtke. Also on the team are juniors Donald Good and Garrett Jackson, sophomore Tyler Martin and freshman Evan Thiergartner.
In addition to Hite, the girls team returns senior Elizabeth Finnegan, junior Alexis Biewinkler and sophomore Bailey Good.
Rounding out the roster are senior Ashley Randolph, sophomore Francesca Gianessi and freshmen Mara Hartings and Holly Pinnix.
“It’s a young (program),” coach McClelland said. “It’s going to be a little rough overall. But there are some teams we can beat.”
The boys team lost to Westerville South 2,351-1,983 on Dec. 18 to drop to 1-2 overall, 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division and 1-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division.
The girls team fell to 0-2 overall, in the OCC-Cardinal and in the COHSBC-North after losing 1,816-1,554 to Westerville South on Dec. 18.
Last season, the boys team finished 7-6 overall, went 6-6 in the 13-team COHSBC-North to tie Olentangy Orange for sixth behind co-champions Jonathan Alder (11-1) and Westerville North (11-1) and went 1-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Delaware Hayes and Gahanna for third behind tri-champions Westerville Central (4-1), Westerville North (4-1) and Westerville South (4-1).
The Golden Eagles placed 10th (3,153) in the 28-team sectional behind champion Westerville South (3,916), finishing one spot shy of advancing to district.
Last season, the girls team finished 2-9 overall, went 2-8 in the 11-team COHSBC-North to tie Jonathan Alder for 10th behind champion Westerville Central (10-0) and went 0-5 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish sixth behind Westerville Central (5-0), Gahanna (4-1), Westerville South (3-2), Delaware (2-3) and Westerville North (1-4).
The Golden Eagles finished 21st (2,278) in the 28-team sectional, behind champion Westerville Central (3,551).
Low numbers for gymnastics team
The gymnastics team has a small and completely new roster this season, as it is comprised of four freshmen in Carlee Ambrose, Jordan Apple, Katelyn Conner and Brianna Glidden.
Last season, Big Walnut had 11 members, which represented the largest roster in program history.
The Golden Eagles lost six girls from a year ago to graduation in Emma Bauer, Natalie Mathews, Krystina Stacy, Macey Hale, Victoria Lawyer and Kali Pace. Mathews was a two-time state qualifier, placing eighth on balance beam last season with a personal-best score of 9.0.
The Golden Eagles also lost Jamie Ballard, Kayla Corbin, Zuri Dockham and Megan Malinowski, each of whom did not return for her sophomore season.
Big Walnut opened Dec. 21 against Dublin Coffman, Dublin Jerome and Olentangy. Its next meet is Jan. 11 against Central Crossing, Olentangy Liberty, Orange and the Westerville club team.
Last season in the district meet, the Golden Eagles had their second highest score of the season, a 126.425, to finish 13th behind champion Grove City (140.075) as 24 teams scored.
Grove City, Coffman (139.375) and Thomas Worthington (137.45) qualified for the team state meet.
Big Walnut scored a 125.1 in the OCC-Capital Division meet last season to finish third behind Jerome (128.925) and Hilliard Bradley (127.575) and ahead of Central Crossing (119), Orange (118.825), Mount Vernon (102.975) and Franklin Heights (27.5).
The Golden Eagles went 2-2 in OCC-Capital dual meets a year ago and finished third in the overall league standings with 16 points, behind Jerome 24, (5-0) and Bradley (20, 4-1) with Orange finishing fourth (12, 2-3). The duals against Mount Vernon and Franklin Heights were canceled.
Mount Vernon is not fielding a team this season.
Martin leads wrestlers in Kilbourne tourney
The wrestling team went 1-4 and finished 12th in the 16-team, dual-format Wolfpack Classic on Dec. 15 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Pickerington Central (5-0) finished first.
Big Walnut went 1-2 to place third in Pool A, beating Delaware B 42-40 and losing to Pickerington Central 61-15 and Mount Gilead 41-25.
The Golden Eagles then lost to Reynoldsburg, which placed third in Pool C, 53-24 before falling to North Union 45-30 in the 11th-place match.
Junior R.J. Martin went 4-1 on the day, going 3-0 in his usual weight class, 138 pounds, and 1-1 at 145.
Junior Austin Carr also competed in two classes in the event, going a combined 3-2 at 160 and 170. Also finishing 3-2 were juniors Austin Crow at 220 and Jhordan Lang at 182.
Big Walnut will compete in the Marion Harding Classic on Friday, Dec. 28, and Saturday, Dec. 29. Last season, the Golden Eagles scored 111 points to tie Allen East for 11th, behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (175.5)