Considering that the DeSales High School boys bowling team returned its entire roster from last season, coach Connie Emlich wasn't surprised that it entered the week with an undefeated record.
The fact that the girls team also was unbeaten was a different story, given that this is its first season and only two girls had any experience in the sport at the start of the season.
The boys team was 7-0 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division and the girls team was 5-0 overall and in the league before competing against Columbus Academy on Jan. 22. The Academy boys were 9-0 overall and in the COHSBC-Central before Jan. 22.
"We weren't even sure we were going to have a girls team before the year," Emlich said. "We used to be a club team and we'd maybe have seven or eight bowlers, period. When we became a varsity sport (this past fall), we had over 20 kids sign up. Now we have 15 -- seven boys and eight girls. They're all doing really well, but I'm not sure I could have seen the girls performing this well."
The girls team was one of three unbeaten teams in the COHSBC-Central entering the week. Ready was 6-0 and Northland was 4-0 before facing off Jan. 21. The Stallions compete against Northland on Thursday, Jan. 23, at Sequoia Pro Bowl.
Amber and Haley Strohacker, DeSales' only returning girls, bowled on the boys team last year. They are joined on the girls squad by freshmen Elizabeth Anderson, Jenni Ciacura, Cynthia Groves, Dena Studer and Josey Waltman.
"Several girls have been having their high games lately," Emlich said. "Everything is clicking. You can see it in the girls in practice, and they feel better when they're competing. The way our matches have gone, some of the teams we've bowled have had lots of new girls, too. But still, no matter who we're bowling against, we're hitting our stride."
Studer had a career-high 222 for a two-game series in a 1,630-1,293 win over Beechcroft on Jan. 14. Waltman rolled a 307 series, highlighted by a 184 game, in a 1,517-1,429 win over Hartley on Jan. 9.
Amber Strohacker had a team-best 157.9 game average through five matches.
Tony LaTorre was leading the boys team with a 182.3 game average, followed by Anthony Hayes (171.7) and Yusef Walton-Bridges (165.3).
The boys team is seeking its first league championship since winning the now-defunct Catholic League in 2005. Despite being undefeated through seven matches, the Stallions were second behind Academy in the COHSBC-Central standings.
"Those top guys have been really strong," Emlich said. "Collin Sebedra has come on strong, and he's in his first year bowling. He had a 415 series (against Centennial). And we only lose Anthony, Patrick (Nie) and Yusef as seniors. Everybody else is coming back. I think things are set up well for the next few years."
Girls basketball team ready for rematch
The girls basketball team has a chance to avenge its only CCL loss when it plays host to Hartley on Thursday, Jan. 23.
DeSales was 12-2 overall before playing Zanesville Maysville on Jan. 20 and is 4-1 in the CCL. The Stallions enter the Hartley game alone in first place in the CCL after Watterson routed the Hawks 68-42 on Jan. 16. Hartley and Watterson both are 3-2 in the league, just ahead of Ready, which is 2-2.
Hartley defeated DeSales 52-50 on Dec. 12, a game in which the Stallions led by 13 points with seconds to play in the third quarter. The Stallions have lost seven consecutive games to the Hawks.
"When we play hard, we can compete with anybody," coach Brian Cromwell said. "We had some slow starts early in the year and we overcame those. We just have to play well for entire games and good things will happen."
This will be the Stallions' first league game in 12 days. They defeated Columbus School for Girls 61-10 on Jan. 11, part of an eight-game winning streak that DeSales took into the game against Maysville.
After the rematch with Hartley, DeSales will have two more CCL games -- at home against Ready on Jan. 30 and at Watterson on Feb. 6 in its regular-season finale.
Softball coach enters OHSFSCA Hall of Fame
Softball coach Julie Barber was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 17 during the organization's annual Coaches Clinic at Hilton Columbus at Easton.
Barber, a 1988 DeSales graduate and the school's director of admissions, has a 268-168 career record with stints at Toledo St. Ursula (1998-2004), Westerville North (2005) and DeSales (2006-present). She led St. Ursula to the Division I state championship in her final season at the school.
During her time at DeSales, the Stallions have won four Division II district championships (2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012), have finished as district runner-up three times (2006, 2008 and 2013) and have won three CCL titles (2010, 2011 and 2012). In 2011, the Stallions advanced to a Division II state semifinal, where they lost to LaGrange Keystone 5-3.
Last season, DeSales went 14-11 overall and 2-4 in the CCL, losing to Licking Valley 4-2 in a district final.